From Slavery to Kafala: British Colonialism and Its Impact on Labor Governance in the Persian Gulf 1800 - 1950
There is not yet a coherent narrative on how British colonialism influenced the institution of labor in the Persian Gulf. This study challenges this narrative by looking at labor governance in the Gulf through the lens of colonialism, economics, and globalization. It argues that British colonialism facilitated a restructuring of existing regional labor system into a system of capitalist mass labor as early as the nineteenth century. In fact, slavery was actually the first labor institution that felt the impact of globalization. British facilitation of trading in the region opened up the already existing Indian Ocean trade network to Western consumption. And despite some efforts in abolition and the suppression of slave trading by the Brits, British commercial and geopolitical interests often won out in the region, especially when abolition was difficult, expensive, and resisted by Gulf locales. This resulted in the rise of a class of workers whose main objective was to produce commodity to meet Western demands. It also argues that British left several legacies of governance in the Gulf, which include the early form of the sponsorship and non-objection certificate system, along with its own racialized notion of the free worker under advanced capitalism. These legacies are both results of the circumstances of British rule specific to the Gulf and Britain’s previous post-slavery experience in its other colonies.
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Georgetown University in Qatar, GU-Q
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Kamrava, Mehran; Babar, Zahra (Columbia University Press, 2012)In some countries of the Persian Gulf as much as 85 to 90 per cent of the population is made-up of expatriate workers.Unsurprisingly, all of the concerned states spend inordinate amounts of their political energies managing ...