The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 36, Issue 2

Article 6
The Three Fades of Post-Emancipation Migration in Martinique, 1848-1865

Laurence Brown


Internal, indentured and regional migration were tightly interlinked in postemancipation Martinique by both contemporary perceptions and migrant actions. Anticipating a flight from the estates, colonial elites were committed before emancipation to constructing a replacement workforce through immigration. Indentureship was therefore a reaction to a crisis of labour relations rather than of labour supply. Such schemes also stimulated regional movements, from marronage by indentured Africans and Asians to recruitment efforts in the British West Indies. Viewed together, the three faces of post-emancipation migration reveal the continuing tension between the colony’s search for coerced labour and the migrants’ assertions of agency.