The Abolition of Slavery and the ‘New Labour Contract’ in French Equatorial Africa, 1890–1914
This chapter seeks to illuminate the connection between two processes: reform of the labour law in France and the abolition of slavery in French colonial Africa. Most political forces in France agreed that the new welfare state should not to be extended to the colonies, particularly in Africa. Thus, the rules governing labour relations in French Equatorial Africa evolved under the pressure of multiple influences. These included growing anti-slavery sentiment, France’s ‘civilizing mission’ and imperial economic interests, the competition in Africa between the colonial state, European companies, and settlers for local labour resources and the need to negotiate with African chiefs. In effect, regulations governing labour were established through a mix of coercion and traditional French rules governing servants.
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