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The Pearl FrontierIndonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia's Northern Trading Network$
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Julia Martínez and Adrian Vickers

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824840020

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824840020.001.0001

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Border-Crossing on the Pearl Frontier

Border-Crossing on the Pearl Frontier

(p.9) Chapter One Border-Crossing on the Pearl Frontier
The Pearl Frontier

Julia Martínez

Adrian Vickers

University of Hawai'i Press

Between the 1870s and the 1970s thousands of Indonesians worked in the northern Australian pearl-shell industry. They came to the ports of Broome, Darwin and Thursday Island as indentured laborers. Before 1945 the new arrivals were classified into two broad categories “Koepangers” or “Malays”. The term “Malays”, used as a British racial category, was applied to both recruits from Singapore — who also often originated from the Netherlands East Indies — as well as men recruited from the ports of Makassar, Dobo, and Ambon in eastern Indonesia. In telling of the migration of Indonesians across the maritime borders of the pearl frontier we explore the development of commodity trading networks, and demonstrate how Australia came to be drawn into the deep history of mobility across borders in Southeast Asia.

Keywords:   Frontier, maritime borders, pearl-shell, trading networks, Indonesia, indentured, Singapore, Southeast Asia

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