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Part of the book series: A Modern Economic History of Southeast Asia ((MEHSA))

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Abstract

The great expansion in tin mining in Southeast Asia in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was accompanied by an expansion in plantation crop agriculture. Although the region produced a number of export crops prior to this period — pepper, coffee, indigo — it could hardly be said to have dominated the trade in these commodities. With two industrial crops, rubber and oil palm, it was different. Under plantation cultivation (and smallholder cultivation for rubber as well), the region soon dominated the trade in these commodities. The plantation mode of production differed from previous production methods in the region because it originated from outside the region and was organised predominantly by Western enterprise. Just as European tin-mining firms edged out Chinese labour-intensive mining enterprises by introducing heavy equipment, advanced technologies and capital-intensive methods, the same methods were transferred to the plantation sector. In this case the rubber and oil palm plantations were characterised by large units under a single management, scientific advances, substantial capital investment, and the mobilisation of large amounts of wage labour.

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© 2004 Amarjit Kaur

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Kaur, A. (2004). Plantation Rubber and Wage Labour. In: Wage Labour in Southeast Asia since 1840. A Modern Economic History of Southeast Asia. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230511132_4

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