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Their inescapable portion? Cyclones, disaster relief, and the political economy of pearlshelling in northwest Australia, 1865–1935

Christensen, J.ORCID: 0000-0002-0075-0544 (2016) Their inescapable portion? Cyclones, disaster relief, and the political economy of pearlshelling in northwest Australia, 1865–1935. In: Bankoff, G. and Christensen, J., (eds.) Natural Hazards and Peoples in the Indian Ocean World. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 283-311.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-94857-4_11
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Abstract

The pearlshelling industry in Northwest Australia developed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries along one of the world’s most cyclone-prone coasts. Periodic losses of lives and boats were commonplace and contributed to pearlshelling’s reliance upon imported Asian labour in an era marked by implementation of the White Australia Policy and its restriction elsewhere in the Commonwealth on non-white labour. This chapter focusses on the cyclone of 27 March 1935, the single worst disaster to beset an industry that weathered more than 70 storms since its inception. It explores the reasons why this storm, falling as it did at a time when pearlshelling faced growing Japanese competition, helped to inaugurate Commonwealth assistance to Australian communities to aid recovery from natural disasters, locating concern for the industry’s future and coastal settlements it supported in the context of broader social and political concerns over the prospects for European settlements on the continent’s remote and inhospitable Northwest coast.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright: © The Author(s) 2016
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/52103
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