Singapore, Chinese Migration and the Making of the British Empire, 1819-67

Stan Neal

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The transformation of Singapore, founded by Stamford Raffles in 1819, from a trading post to a major centre for international trade was a huge commercial and colonial success for Britain. One key factor in all of this was the recruitment of Chinese migrant labour, which by the 1850s made up over half of the population. The transformation, however, was not limited to Singapore. As this book demonstrates, colonial administrators saw that the "model" of what had been done in Singapore, especially the use of Chinese migrant labour, could be replicated elsewhere. This book examines the establishment of the "Singapore model" and its transference - to Assam in India, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), Mauritius, Australia and the West Indies. It examines the role of the key people who developed the model, including the Hong Kong merchant houses and their financial expertise, discusses central ideas which lay behind the model, notably free trade and the use of "industrious" Chinese rather than "lazy" natives, and assesses the varying outcomes of the different colonial experiments. The themes discussed - economic opportunities and globalisation; the need to find labour without recourse to slavery, indentured labour or convict labour; migration, ethnicity and racism - all continue to have great significance at present, as does the idea that Singapore, still, is a model to be replicated more widely.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWoodbridge
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Publishers
Number of pages202
ISBN (Print)9781783274239
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 17 May 2019

Publication series

NameWorlds of the East India Company
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
ISSN (Print)1752-5667


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