World Sugar History Newsletter

Number 5, November 1984

In this issue:

  1. Research in Progress
  2. Book Reviews
  3. Archive Report
  4. Conference Reports
  5. Announcement

This version of the World Sugar History Newsletter, Number 5, November 1984, has been edited for the purpose of on-line display. The contents remain complete.


[In addition to the list given in issue no. 4]

Sabine Manigat, FLACSO, Aptdo Postal 20-021, Mexico 20 - DF, Mexico.
"Evolution and social movements of the labour force in the Caribbean sugar industry, 1890-1930/45."

Yoshiko Nagano-Kano, Department of International & Cultural Studies, Koryo International College, Sogamine, Nisshen-cho, Aichi-gum, Aichi-ken, Japan 470-01.
"The Philippine sugar industry."

Carl H. Feuer, Dept. of Political Science, State University College at Cortland, PO Box 2000, Cortland, NY 13045, USA.
"Co-operatives in Jamaica."
Forthcoming publications:
"The Sweet and Sour: Sugar and Jamaica in the Twentieth Century" in Social and Economic Studies, Sept. 1984.
Jamaica and Sugar Worker Co-operatives: The Politics of Reform Westview Press, Dec. 1984.

Howard B. Johnson, Town Court Apts., Apt. 26, PO Box 55 6302, Nassau, Bahamas.
"Political economy of Trinidad in the late 19th century."

John J. McCusker, Dept. of History, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.
"17th and 18th century Caribbean sugar economy."

Peter Griggs, Department of Geography, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Australia 4067.
"Plantations to Small Farms: A Historical Geography of the Sugar Industry in the Lower Burdekin, North Queensland, Australia, 1880-1930." (PhD thesis)

Woodville K. Marshall, Faculty of Arts and General Studies, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, PO Box 64, Bridgetown, Barbados."
"Social and economic adjustments to slave emancipation in the British Windward Islands; the Apprenticeship; establishment of peasantries and villages in the Commonwealth Caribbean."

Riva Berleant-Schiller, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Torrington, Conn. 06790, USA.
"Peasant and plantation adaptations in the Lesser Antilles."

James Walvin, Dept of History, University of York, York, UK.
"Worthy Park Estates Jamaica; revised history."
"New project on Jamaican sugar industry, 1970-1984."

Herman W. Konrad, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.
"The lowland tropical forest frontier in Mexico: capitalism, export commodities, and plantations."

George L. Beckford, Dept. of Economics, University of the West Indies, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
"Plantation history, political economy of the Caribbean."

Jacques Adelaide, BP 592, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.
"Labour problems between 1895 and 1984."

S. V. Singaravelou, Institute of Geography, University of Bordeaux III, 33405 Talence, France.
"Plantation society and culture."

Louis Ferleger, Dept. of Economics, University of Massachusetts/Boston, Harbor Campus, Boston, Mass. 02125, USA.
"Labor shortages and technological change in field operations in the 19th century."


A. Payne & P. Sutton (eds), Dependency under Challenge: the Political Economy of the Commonwealth Caribbean (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984). Pp. 295. 25 pounds.

This is a useful but depressing book chronicling the failure of the states of the Commonwealth Caribbean to produce an effective response to the situation of dependency in which they all find themselves. Given that these sugar territories are some of the earliest and most dramatic creations of international capitalism one might expect them to use their common experience to challenge the ruling economic orthodoxy following independence, but after many false starts this goal continues to elude them.

The "political economy" of the subtitle is well advised, since it is predominantly written by political scientists; indeed it is largely written by the editors, who between them contribute four of the ten substantive papers, as well as the introduction and conclusion. The result is a preoccupation with the doings of governments, records of conferences, the formation of agencies and policies. The fact that in the Caribbean this is what frequently passes for government action is accepted rather than commented on.

There are other noticeable gaps, especially concerning the theoretical background to the concept of dependency. Payne starts with a brief run through the main Caribbean commentators, pausing only to make the very interesting point that many of the radical academic writers of the past are now highly paid bureaucrats operating this flawed economic system. With the exception of the piece by Clive Thomas we find nowhere a discussion of what Caribbean dependency is or looks like. Payne laments that Caribbean scholars are not involved in recent discussions of dependency: it is a pity that the present authors have followed their example.

Instead we have, to start, a consideration of the national strategies of four states. Payne discusses the failure of the Manley regime in Jamaica, both in electoral and economic terms. Sutton examines the last decade of Eric Williams's Trinidad, with the problems of sudden oil wealth, while Thomas examines the ideological pretentions and practical failings of the PNC regime in Guyana. Thorndike describes the emergence of the Grenada revolution and demonstrates the problems of contemporary analysis by predicting a troubled but viable future for the regime.

One unacknowledged element in these cases is the dominance of charismatic leaders. The significance of this is brought out in the next section, which is concerned with the efforts to produce regional economic growth. Here papers by Payne on industrial and Axline on agricultural policy cover the failures in detail. The final section covers international relations, with Ramsaran on the US and the Caribbean Basin Initiative and Sutton on relations with the EEC through the Lome conventions, while Lewis's paper on the hemispheric middle powers of Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil touches a neglected area. Benn explores Caribbean involvement in the New International Economic Order: more conferences and resolutions.

This is a very worthy and potentially useful book. It is intellectually unadventurous but contains a great deal of material which is clearly presented and well suited for teaching. The regional expert will find little that was not known already, but for the newcomer it represents a good guide to recent history. Whether it is worth the published price of 25 pounds is more doubtful: get your library to buy it.

Eric Hanley
University of Edinburgh

Robert Marx Delson (ed.), Readings in Caribbean History and Economics: An Introduction to the Region (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1981). Pp. xxi + 336. $66.

Jay R. Mandle, Patterns of Caribbean Development: An Interpretive Essay on Economic Change (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1982). Pp. xi + 156. $32.50.

These volumes initiate a new series of monographs, Caribbean Studies, edited by Roberta Delson and Arnaud Marks, with the announced aim of adopting a "pan-regional focus" and developing a "methodology suitable to comparative perspectives". The first, a set of readings, offers coverage from the sixteenth century to the present and should be useful to those beginning their study of the area, if taken as a supplement to, for example, Knight's The Caribbean. The editorial commentary is quite substantial and the choice of items unusually eclectic. Perhaps the only criticism to offer is that, while valuable as an introduction, it does not provide much help for students proceeding to consider the more recent and specialist research. Thus there is no discussion of the problems of slave demography or the slave family, and while Higman's work is cited, no indication is given of its argument. And it is remarkable that although G. Beckford, Michael Manley, G. K. Lewis, and Hugh Thomas are reproduced on modern issues, W. A. Lewis does not make an appearance.

Mandle's study is focussed more narrowly on the region's current problems, interpreted as a legacy of plantation agriculture. It begins with lucid summaries of Marxist thinking on development, of theories of dependency and the plantation economy, and of the recent debate over the association of economic growth with welfare. But Mandle is less successful in linking this general literature with his more specific material in Cuba, Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad, in the 1960s and 1970s. His narrative of the preceding half century is rather sketchy, with a disproportionate emphasis on post-1945 industrialisation by invitation policies and their failings. The pathology of the plantation economy is presented mainly in terms of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century history: slavery, post-emancipation coercion, and the consequent "cheap labour mentality". So, for example, no mention is made of how Cuba's sugar industry had become so highly productive by 1920, or of the possibility that market vicissitudes accounted to some extent for its subsequent difficulties. Similarly, there is nothing on the revival of the Jamaican sugar industry from World War I to its zenith in the mid-1960s, and no way of understanding why its output should have been declining for a decade before the "strike of capital" against the PNP government, so heavily emphasised in the account given here of the 1970s.

J. R. Ward
University of Edinburgh



CSR Limited

The major collection held is that of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company which has dominated the history of the Australian sugar industry. Now CSR Limited, the Company was formed in Sydney in January 1855, founded by Edward William Knox. With a few exceptions the records cover the period 1855 to 1947 and document CSR's involvement in the importation of raw sugar in the nineteenth century, the investigation of areas for cane farming, experimental work in agriculture and chemical control in production, and the development of mills in NSW, Queensland, and Fiji, distillery works in Sydney and Melbourne, and branch offices and refineries in five Australian states and New Zealand.

The records now occupy some 240 shelf metres and continue to grow. It is impossible to describe them all here. This article attempts to show highlights of the collection and the more extensive series available for research.

The major record series is the Head Office correspondence. Bound inward letters and outward press copies comprise over 3,000 volumes arranged by title of the corresponding agency. Sets exist for each of the Company's mills, refineries, and branches, and for agents, banks, shipping companies, and industry associations. In addition, they cover subject areas such as Staff, Private, Fiji Cables, Mill Inspectors, Inspecting Engineers, Employees Benefit Society, Imports, General, etc. Gaps exist and few sets are complete to 1947. Other Head Office records include:

In addition, the correspondence with J. Pickering, Inspecting Engineer in Glasgow, is complete for 1905-29. Pickering advised on the purchase of plant, equipment, and vessels. Purchases were made through London agents, Parbury Henry & Co.

Records of predecessor and related companies include the Australasian Sugar Company's letter books 1847-57 and a wages book 1851-54; Robey and Company letters 1853-55 with details of their raw sugar imports 1854-62. Information on the New Zealand Sugar Company is found in minutes, letters, and wages books for the 1880s. CSR was a part owner of this group which joined the main company in 1888.

Of significance in the collection is the large quantity of single photographs and albums c.1870-1960. Albums were kept for each mill and refinery, CSR ships, engineering workshops, cane farms, Sydney Office, etc. They show the stages of development of buildings, fires, floods, installations of plant and machinery, construction work of bridges and railways, often scenic detail of a region, staff and workers housing, and recreational events such as shows, tennis and cricket matches. For Fiji many of the photographs include employees and evidence of the pineapple plantation and cannery operated there between 1938 and 1955.

The most recent additions to the deposit were received in 1983. These records include a wide variety of letters and reports on the Company's projects between 1929 and 1950, including munitions work during the second world war; Fiji files and photographs 1960s; bound sets of transcripts of Royal Commissions, Arbitration Hearings, and Inquiries relating to the industry in Australia and Fiji 1912-69; and a series of Patents files from the Sugar Division.

The Australian Estates Company Limited

Most of the records of this Company relate to its pastoral interests but its involvement in sugar estates and milling in Queensland can be found in Annual Accounts and Managers Reports for "Kalamia" estate and mill 1928-58, 1971-73, and "Palms" 1929-47. Copies of the Secretary's letters sent are held in Mail Letter Books 1895-1922 concerning the management of the sugar interests. Photograph albums for "Kalamia" and "Palms" show mills, homesteads, quarters, cane cutting, transport, machinery, staff groups, etc. c.1903-20. A file entitled "Sugar" 1898-1906 contains correspondence, reports, sketch maps and plans, managers notes, and annual accounts for the Mackay Estates (mainly "Palms") and Burdekin Estates ("Kalamia" and "Seaforth").

Trade Union Records

In addition to the papers described above, the Archives also maintain a large collection of trade union records, some of which are directly concerned with sugar workers, as well as those engaged in sugar refining and the distributive trades.

All enquiries concerning these records should be addressed to the Archives Officer, Archives of Business and Labour, The Australian National University, GPO Box 4, Canberra City 2601. Advance notice is required for the use of CSR records as it is necessary to obtain access permission from the Company.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia Conference (held in Adelaide between 13-19 May) saw a panel devoted to "Sugar Production in the Pacific/Asia Region". The panel was organised by Howard Dick of the University of Newcastle and John Perkins of the University of New South Wales. While papers were confined only to the history of sugar production in Java, Thailand, and Queensland (see list below), the level of debate and discussion they aroused was of a high order. It is envisaged that the papers will be published in a book edited by the panel convenors along with studies of Phillipines, Malaysian, Fijian, and Hawaiian sugar production from the early colonial period up to the present. The book is to be called The Political Economy of Sugar Production of the Asia Pacific Region.

List of Papers

Colin Brown (School of Modern Asian Studies, Griffith University): "Sugar in Java: Smallholders and Government Policy, 1949-1984".

E. C. Chapman (Department of Geography, Australian National University): "Observations on the Growth of the Sugar Industry in Thailand since 1960".

R. E. Elson (Department of South-east Asian History, Australian National University): "Notes on Changing Modes of Production in the Java Sugar Industry, 1830-1940".

Adrian Graves (Department of Economic History, University of Edinburgh): "The Political Economy of the Queensland Sugar Industry, 1862-1906".


The "First World Plantation Conference" was held at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from 2-5 October, 1984, organised by Sue Eakin of the Department of History at Louisiana State University, at Alexandria, with help from John Tarver and Patsy Barber. The meeting, which attracted scholars from major universities of the United States, United Kingdom, the French and British West Indies, France, Canada, Japan, and Latin America, was sponsored by the L.S.U. Agricultural Center at Baton Rouge and the L.S.U. at Alexandria.

The Conference began on a high note with stimulating, introductory papers from Professors Edgar Thompson and Sydney Mintz. Subsequent papers treated the plantation as an economic, social, cultural, or spatial entity in regions as diverse as East Elbia, the southern United States, Queensland, Yucatan, Mexico, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Reunion, Mauritius, Trinidad, Granada, French Guyana, Hawaii, and Brazil. Several papers, such as those by George Beckford, James Walvin, Edgar Thompson, and Sydney Mintz addressed issues of general interest to the study of the plantation.

One of the highlights of the meeting involved a debate on the concept of the plantation economy in which Louis Ferleger and Jay Mandle presented a spirited defense against a critique offered by Ed Beechert and Adrian Graves. It is hoped that the important issues covered by the debate will be published in a relevant journal soon.

In addition to those listed below as the authors of papers, other participants of the conference included: Vera Rubin, John Hope Franklin, Joseph Logsdon, Sozo Hondo, John Loos, Reva Berleant-Schiller, and Marie D. Strazan.

The conference finished with a day devoted to touring Louisiana plantations accompanied by an abundance of southern hospitality. All participants agreed that the meeting was extremely worthwhile and voted for the establishment of a Society of Plantation Scholars to encourage further contacts and exchange.

Proceedings of the conference will be published at L.S.U. Further information may be obtained from Dr. Sue Eakin, Department of History, Louisiana State University, Alexandria, Louisiana 71301, USA.

List of Papers

Edgar Thompson (Emeritus Professor, Duke University, Durham): "The Importance of Comparative Studies of Plantations".

Sydney Mintz (Johns Hopkins University): "Tropical Plantations and the Birth of the Modern World".

S. Davis-Bowman (History, Hampden - Sydney College): "A Comparison of Southern Plantations and Contemporaneous East Elbian Ritterguter".

Adrian Graves (Universities of Edinburgh and Adelaide): "The Structure and Organisation of the Wage Labour Plantation in Queensland, 1862-1900".

Asael T. Hansen (Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama): "Plantations in Yucatan, Traditional (1600-1870) and Commerical (1870-1920)".

Sydney Nathan (History, Duke University, Durham): "I Learned to Live Here: AfroAmericans and the Plantation Frontier, 1850-1920".

Herman W. Konrad (Anthropology, University of Calgary): "Plantation Labour Systems in the Tropical Forests: The Case of the Chewing-Gum Tappers".

Alain Buffon (Guadaloupe): "L'indemnisation des planteurs apres l'abolition de l'esclavage".

Jacque Adelaide-Merlande (Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Guadaloupe): "Problems of the Remuneration of the Plantations of Guadaloupe, Martinique, after emancipation, 1848-1884".

Jean Benoist (Universite de Droit d'Economie de Sciences d'aux Marseille): "From Plantation to Village: French West Indies and Mauritius".

Roberto H. C. Motta (Fundacao Joachim Pernambuco, Brazil): "Plantation Life in the Freyre Model: Race, Religion, and Paradigms of Historical Interpretation".

George Beckford (Economics, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica): "Plantation Capitalism - Comparative Perspectives".

S. Turner (Landscape Architecture, L.S.U., Baton Rouge): "Beyond Moonlight and Magnolias: Landscape Patterns of Louisiana Plantations".

Robert Heck (Architecture, L.S.U., Baton Rouge): "Architecture of Louisiana Plantations".

S. Valy Singaravelou (Geography, Universite de Bordeaux III): "East Indians and the Plantation System of the French Caribbean".

Jay Mandle (Economics, Temple University): "Plantations of Trinidad and Grenada".

Ed. Beechert (History, University of Hawaii): "Labour Relations on Hawaiian Sugar Plantations".

Andrew Lind (Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii): "Race Making on Hawaii's Plantation Frontier".

James Walvin (History, University of York): "The Plantation Model: The British Case".


We plan to hold an international conference on sugar industries in the inter-war period. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the crisis which hit the world sugar economy and the different responses of individual sugar industries, both cane and beet, to the difficult conditions of these years. Besides considering the fate of their particular industry, the conference participants will be encouraged to address themselves to broader issues, such as the role of primary product export in economic development, the interplay between imported and locally developed technology, the relationship between technical change and increasingly militant labour, the role of foreign capital and credit, and the impact on sugar producers of the changing trade policies of the leading sugar importers, especially Britain and the United States.

It is proposed that the conference be held in Norwich, UK, at the University of East Anglia in the first week of September, 1986. Anyone interested in presenting a paper please contact: Dr. Adrian Graves, Department of Economic History, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JY, UK.