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Captives on Cocos: The origins and evolution of the plantation community of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Brockman, Rosemary Ann (1981) Captives on Cocos: The origins and evolution of the plantation community of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis is a history of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands from their first settlement in 1826 to 1955, the year in which their control was transferred from the United Kingdom to Australia. The central theme is the relationship between the Islands' proprietors (the Clunies Rosses) and their Cocos Malay plantation community. A particular aim is to outline the means by which the former maintained its dominance for five generations.

The study reveals an authority structure headed by the Rosses and their managers, assisted by an elite group of Cocos Malay families, termed the Royal Family, into which the Rosses occasionally married. The first Ross stipulated the principles which should govern the establishment and maintenance of a plantation organisation and his ideas strongly influenced his successors. Economic imperatives moulded the community pattern and this survived almost unchanged for 150 years. The Rosses' strategies included the manipulation and obstruction of British officialdom in matters relating to social reform. They were also aided by extraordinary good luck.

In the mid-1940s, during an interregnum in the Ross regime, the Islanders experienced the benefits of a relatively enlightened administration. Upon the return of the Rosses, however, their efforts to reduce the population led to a feeling of betrayal on the part of the Cocos Malays. Following extensive emigration, and the withdrawal of British influence the closed system of the Rosses was re-established.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Reece, Robert and Broeze, F.
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