‘Child Slavery’ and Imperial Networks
Chapter 7 shows how evidence of unfree migrant child labourers flared repeatedly from centres under British and French colonial rule, horrifying those convinced of the need to make empire ‘respectable.’ Reformers raised the alarm over official inaction or European complicity in the trafficking of children into statuses not easily distinguishable from slavery. They exposed Hong Kong, Singapore, Saigon and Hanoi as linked nodes in networks through which children were trafficked into unpaid migrant labour outside the family. This chapter examines the linked, trans-colonial movement of unfree children that so powerfully posed the question of European responsibility for the raising of youthful colonial subjects. It also explains why British and French engagements with this problem evolved in strikingly different directions.
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