Coercion, paternalism and the labour process: The mozambican cotton regime 1938-1961

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In 1938 the Portuguese colonial regime imposed a brutal system of cotton cultivation throughout rural Mozambique. Within four years more than 700,000 peasants had been forced to grow cotton. Although other European colonial governments had introduced similar schemes, no cotton project in all of Africa was built upon a more repressive work regime nor was more completely predicated upon state intervention at the point of production than in Mozambique. For more than two decades intimidation, coercion and terror were synonymous with cotton. This study examines the ways in which the Portuguese colonial state and its cotton concessionary allies tried to organise peasant labour and the ways in which peasants sought to organise themselves. It seeks to determine how the imposition of cotton restructured the organisation of work, or more precisely restructured the peasant labour process.2 Focusing on the labour process offers a way to explore how the relative autonomy of peasants structured their response to Lisbon's cotton scheme. The partial autonomy of peasants was inextricably linked to their access to land and their ability to mobilise their own labour power through the household,which, together, gave them command over subsistence.3 Even in the most highly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-526
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1992


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