History Paper Example on Asian Migration to the Caribbean

Published: 2021-06-30
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Harvey Mudd College
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The early years of civilization and revolution were marked with the constant migration of people from one region to the other. The historical accounts record how different groups moved to their present location because of social, economic, and political reasons. One of the key consideration while evaluating the migration of a specific or several groups of communities is the segregation of the voluntary and involuntary causes. Some groups were displaced because of the slave trade of the 17th century while others willingly relocated because of reasons such as the security, food and water, economic needs, and religious factors. The migration of communities to a new region has both powerful and negative influence. The same applies to areas where the people are coming. On the other hand, the migration data is fundamental elements of the policy formation process for most countries. The need to make an informed decision regarding the public affairs also require the migrants data for evidence-based analysis (UN Population Division-b 1). The process of migration also leads to challenges that require sustainable mitigation measures; therefore, the analysis of the migration-related factors becomes central to the decision process. Alternatively, the shifting of people to different locations have been leveraged to the advantage of the receiving nation regarding social, economic, and political diversity (UN Population Division-b 1).

One of the regions with different migration influence is the Caribbean. The Non-British ethnic communities have been increasing from the Post-World War II period. In the year 2001, the number of the minorities in the Caribbean was estimated to be more than 40 times larger than the total number of immigrants of Asian origin back in 1951 (Maxwell 1452). The region is currently characterized by a significant population of the immigrants. The Asian communities form a greater percentage of the total ancestral foreigners in the area. The Indians are the majority of the Asian communities in the region while the Chinese as the second largest composition. One of the key consideration of the scholars is the reasons that enhanced the migration of Asians into this region. Although most studies have focused on the resultant effect of the Asian migration to the region, several factors stand out as the major influence elements for the large percentage of the Asian communities specifically the Chinese and the Indians in the Caribbean (UN Population Division 5). This excerpt examines the historical overview of the Asian migration into the Caribbean by reviewing the key historical highlights and the contributing factors that led to the present-day diversity in the region.

Overview of the Migration

The History of the Asians in the Caribbean can be traced back to the 1800s in Trinidad where the alternative to the abolished Western slave trade was needed. The shortage of labor was one of the key challenges faced in many Western countries, and there was a critical urgency to solve the problem. The Atlantic Slave Trade was a popular practice that dominated the previous centuries; however, the change emanating from the abolitionist's movement created a new turnover of events in the United Kingdom and the surrounding (Misrahi-Barak 1). The call to end the Atlantic Slave Trade, therefore, let to the Chinese and Indian inversion for labor in 1805. By 1806, the first group of laborers of Asian origin arrived in the British Empire where the needs of the country in line with the agricultural extension became the determinant factor of the gender and age of laborers needed (Misrahi-Barak 1). Although the slave trade had been abolished, the workers were given little stipend in return for payment for their services. At this moment, the Asian community became the alternative to the African slaves associated with the Atlantic trade.

Moreover, reports of the House of Commons in 1811 also affirmed the existence of the Asian communities in the Caribbean region. The community reported the success emanating from the Asian labor while presenting the challenge of returning to their homeland based on possibilities of policy interaction (Clementi 39). One of the remarkable factors that the community noted that the order and improvement of the economy from the Asian laborers was an essential instrument of the success in the Caribbean countries. According to Clementi (16), the onset of the migration of the Asians to the Caribbean region can be traced between the mid-19th and 20th centuries. The British leadership played a central role in initiating the migration process through parliament enactment between early 1811 and 1843. The move saw most of the Asian foreigners move to the Caribbean and settle in British Guiana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Although little achievement regarding numbers was witnessed, the need to sustain the labor needs in the Caribbean region called for the immediate mitigation measures (Clementi 13). By 1854 the first group of Chinese laborers arrived in Jamaica, and this became the beginning of the continuous movement of the Asian communities in the region (Clementi 16; Misrahi-Barack 2).

Furthermore, other dimensions that cannot be ignored regarding the ancient migration of the Asian to the Caribbean is the constant strife between British Empire and the Chinese leadership. The invasion of the two countries can be traced back before 1854 when the first group of laborers arrived in Jamaica. The first war that affected the Chinese territory lasted between the 1840 and 1843 where China refuted the consideration from Europe to receive equal treatment for all the economic and diplomatic engagement with other Western countries. Such a turndown allowed the British Empire to start negotiation with the China, which did not lead to any meaningful agreement. Therefore, the European leaders resorted to war. Moreover, other political and economic strife existed before the British and the Asian regions entered a meaningful relationship such as the second war between 1856 and 1860, Taiping Rebellion from 1850 to 1864, and the Mahommedan Rebellion between 1867 and 1873 (Clementi 13).

Contributing Factors

The evaluation of the factors that contributed to the migration of the Asians to the Caribbean region cannot be effective without the understanding of the two phases that characterize the migration. The Asian groups, specifically the Chinese and the Indians, moved to the Caribbean nations based on the first wave that was later followed by the second wave of migration. The first shift was associated with the involuntary movement based on the engagements between the Asian states and the British leadership and merchants (Rajkumar 1). The main reason behind the migration as the indentured laborers who were destined to provide their services in different countries in the region.

On the other hand, the second wave was voluntary movement because of the changing socioeconomic factors and took place in the 1890s. The second group of immigrants has been ascertained to form the present-day population of the Asian communities in Caribbean countries (Rajkumar 1). The major factors that can be traced through historical evidence to have contributed to the movement of the Asians to the Caribbean include the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the failure of the African immigration plan, labor shortage and economy shifts in the Caribbean, and the increasing population and social pressure in Asian regions.

Abolition of Atlantic Slave Trade: The Atlantic Slave Trade was a widely practiced activity among Western Economies in the 16th to 19th century. The number of slaves contributed to over 9% of the total population in Europe (Archive Education Service 4). On the other hand, another group of foreigners were called the Villeins forming part of the freed slaves but were remaining under the control of their manor. The Villeins formed about 45% of the slaves who were brought into Europe from different regions across the globe. The population was mainly from Africa and other region conquered during the Roman invasions. The slaves played a central role in advancing the economy of the Caribbean region through the advanced agricultural practices. The slaves offered readily available labor and advanced the trade practices among European merchants. Moreover, trading the slaves through agents and other traders also became a source of income. Eventually, slaves formed part of the economic growth and agricultural productivity witnessed in the entire Europe. The production of sugar and tobacco relied on intensive labor, which the slaves offered. However, the slave trade was characterized by several practices, which were considered not appropriate and called to end the capturing and selling of slaves started to find the way in the medieval period.

By March 1807, the abolition of the slave trade was declared through the Slave Trade Act that prohibited the purchase, sale, and transfer of persons as slaves. The Act includes the restriction of using individuals who were captured in advancing any economic or social activities from the coastal region and Africa (The National Archives 1). The imposition of the fines kept the traders off the slave trade, and the labor force in the firms started to decrease. In British Guiana, the slave trade was still dominant until 1843 when the Court of Policy accepted the registration of slaves as apprentice laborers (Clementi 2). Therefore, the shift in labor practices forced the private employers and investors to seek alternative means of workforce procurement. At that time, the British leadership was establishing ties with the Asian rulers, especially in China and India. The two Asian states became the next option to labor procurement, which contributed to the immigration of the Asians to the Caribbean region. However, it was not easy to achieve the transfer of Chinese to the British Guiana because of the political and commercial resistance that existed between the two empires (Clementi 13).

Shortage of Labor and Economy Shifts in the Caribbean: The Caribbean region has a historical account associated with a labor shortage. Although currently, the region is a major exporter of laborers, both professional and unskilled, the region suffered an extended period of a labor shortage that called for alternative measures to curb the problem. The increasing population in the area called for food security, and the process of industrialization also required workers. The first wave of migration to the Caribbean was because of the slave trade, but the aftermath of the abolition act generated a labor shortage that led to the need for more people to work in the plantations and cropping industries (Rajkumar 1). However, the greater force for more labor emanated from the global economic restructuring between the 1970s and 1990s (Nurse 4). The China became the preferred target to cover the deficit in labor requirement in the region. The free labor from the Chinese assisted the colonies in the Caribbean to increase the productivity of the declining plantations under the custody of Indian and African laborers (Cepal 3). The number of the Chinese in the Caribbean started to grow especially with the diversity and enterprising skills associated with the community.

Moreover, the range of competencies that the Chinese brought to the British colonies in the Caribbean was essential for growth. The China immigrants became barbers, tailors, craftsmen, goldsmiths, and carpenters. The various skills increased the diversity of production in the region as opposed to the agricultural-based growth from the Indian and African laborers. The enterprising culture associated with the Chinese foreigners did not allow them to be restricted to labor provision since some started owning shops and other small businesses in the r...

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