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date: 03 December 2022

History of the Seychellesfree

History of the Seychellesfree

  • Richard B. AllenRichard B. AllenDepartment of History, Framingham State University

Summary

The history of the Seychelles since the islands’ colonization in 1770 has been shaped by their physical geography, location in the western Indian Ocean, and peripheral status in the French and British colonial empires. The archipelago’s social, economic, and political history reflects its role in facilitating the slave trade that funneled hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and Malagasies toward the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and Réunion between 1770 and the early 1830s, the development of cotton and then coconut plantation agriculture, and its status as a Mauritian dependency until it became a separate British Crown Colony in 1903. Economic and political life after independence in 1976 included a coup d’état in 1977 that led to the establishment of a one-party socialist state in 1979, a return to multiparty democracy in 1993, and the country’s increasing economic dependence on tourism during the late 20th and early 21rst centuries.

Subjects

  • East Africa and Indian Ocean

Location and Geography

The Seychelles, an archipelago of some 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean situated between 4° and 11° south latitude and 46° and 56° east longitude, are composed of four principal island groups, with a total surface area of 175 square miles, only 5 percent of which is arable while another 45 percent is suitable for tree crops, such as coconuts. The central Mahé group consists of some forty granitic islands, the largest of which, Mahé, is located 995 miles (1,600 km) east of Mombasa. More than 85 percent of the Seychellois population, estimated at almost 99,000 in 2021, live on Mahé; most other Seychellois reside on the neighboring islands of Praslin and La Digue, 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Mahé. The archipelago’s Aldabra, Farquhar, and Amirantes groups, located south and southwest of the Mahé group, are coralline and mostly uninhabited. The islands’ physical geography and location in the western Indian Ocean played a major role in shaping Seychellois social, economic, and political history between the islands’ colonization in 1770 and independence in 1976 by ensuring that the archipelago remained a peripheral part of the French and, after 1814, British colonial empires.

Slavery, Slave Trading, and the Seychellois Economy

The history of the Seychelles must be understood in terms of the impact of European imperialism and colonialism in the Indian Ocean during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; transoceanic slave trading; the creation of a colonial plantation economy; and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834. Cartographic evidence suggests that although the islands were probably known to Arab/Swahili sailors before 1500, they remained uninhabited by humans. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the archipelago in 1502 when Vasco da Gama sighted and named the Amirantes during his second voyage to India. In 1609, an English East India Company expedition spent ten days in the islands. The Euro-American pirates who established themselves in northern Madagascar between circa 1690 and 1720 probably visited the archipelago occasionally, but the islands remained of little sustained European interest until 1742 when François Bertrand Mahé de La Bourdonnais, governor (1735–1746) of the French Compagnie des Indes’s colony of the Îles de France et de Bourbon (the modern Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and La Réunion, respectively), dispatched an expedition led by Lazare Picault to explore the archipelago.1 Picault visited the islands again in 1743 and 1744, and in 1756 the French formally claimed the archipelago which they named in honor of the Comte Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s comptroller general of finances. In 1768, following the Compagnie’s bankruptcy and the advent of royal government in the Mascarenes, Governor François-Julien du Dresnay des Roches (1768–1772) and intendant (comptroller) Pierre Poivre (1767–1772) dispatched another expedition led by Marion Dufresne to reconnoiter the islands.

The archipelago remained uninhabited, however, until August 27, 1770, when a small group of settlers from the Île de France established themselves on the small island of Sainte Anne near Mahé. The reasons for the archipelago’s colonization remain a subject of debate. Guy Lionnet and William McAteer assert that its settlement was prompted by Pierre Poivre’s desire to encourage spice cultivation in the Îles de France et de Bourbon.2 Claude Wanquet holds that although the islands’ initial settlement reflected this aspiration, colonization after 1777–1778 was governed by two other considerations: the existence of a good harbor at Mahé and the archipelago’s reputation for having a healthful climate, which made the islands well suited to serve as a naval base from which French interests in India could be supported, and the desire to develop the islands into an agricultural colony.3 More recently, Peter Nicholls has argued that colonization was spurred by the need for a “refreshment” station to service the increasing numbers of ships carrying slaves from Mozambique and the Swahili Coast to the Îles de France et de Bourbon after a 1769 royal decree opened the Mascarenes to free trade by French citizens, a privilege extended to American merchants in 1784 and all other foreign nationals in 1787.4 Jehanne-Emmanuelle Monnier, in turn, contends that the archipelago provided poor whites on the Île Bourbon with access to land and other economic opportunities that were unavailable to them on that island.5

Regardless of the reasons for the islands’ settlement, the colonization process proceeded slowly. In 1788, the islands housed only 250 inhabitants as well as a royal establishment of some twenty soldiers, one pilot-fisher, and twelve slaves. The archipelago’s population continued to increase between 1788 and 1810, with the most notable growth occurring in the size of its slave population, which rose from 487 in 1791, to 1,820 in 1804, and to 3,015 in 1810 (table 1).6 This increase stemmed in part from the Seychelles’ importance as a refreshment station for the ships that exported an estimated 99,600 to 115,200 enslaved men, women, and children from Mozambique and the Swahili Coast toward Mauritius and Réunion between 1770 and 1810.7 Archival sources document a minimum of fifty-four slaving voyages from eastern Africa to the Mascarenes during the 1770s, 78 during 1780s, and 128 during the 1790s.8 Although the number of such documented voyages declined to forty during the first decade of the 19th century, in part because of increasing Royal Navy activity in the western Indian Ocean after 1803 as Britain waged war against Napoleonic France, at least forty-six other voyages that involved the transfer of slaves from the Seychelles to Mauritius and Réunion occurred between 1796 and the British capture of the Mascarenes in 1810.9 At least fifty-nine slave ships are known to have called at the islands between 1774 and 1809, a figure that undoubtedly underrepresents the number of such visits by a substantial margin.10 These ships remained an average of thirty-three days to make needed repairs, permit their human cargoes to recover from disease and the hardships of the Middle Passage, and take on water and provisions needed to complete their voyage to the Mascarenes.11 Visiting captains often sold part of their human cargoes during their stay in the archipelago, sometimes to cover their expenses while there.

Mauritius and Réunion’s capture by the British in 1810 and the subsequent enforcement of the 1807 parliamentary ban on slave trading by British subjects spurred the development of an

Table 1. Population of the Seychelles, 1788–1931

Year

Whites

Free Persons of Color

Slaves

Total

1788a

20

9

221

250

1791

65

20

487

572

1803/4

215

86

1,820

2,121

1810

317

135

3,015

3,467

1818

471

214

6,638–7,323

7,323

1824

739–815

218–301

5,755–6,525

6,712–6,741

1825

582–759

323–407

5,920–6,058

6,963–7,070

1826

733–790

378–407

6,069–6,525

7,180–7,722

1830

4,698

1842

5,453

1845

5,949

1851

6,811

1861

7,486

1871

11,082

1881

14,081

1891

16,440

1901

19,237

1911

22,691

1921

24,523

1931

27,444

a Excludes 33 members of the royal establishment.

Sources: Robert R. Kuczynski, Demographic Survey of the British Empire, Vol. 2 (London, 1949), 905–907, 911–912, 914–915, 917, 920; Claude Wanquet, “Le peuplement des Seychelles sous l’occupation française: Une experience de colonization à la fin du XVIIIe siècle,” in Mouvements de populations dans l’océan Indien (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1979), 195, 201; and Richard B. Allen, “Licentious and Unbridled Proceedings: The Illegal Slave Trade to Mauritius and the Seychelles during the Early Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History 43, no. 1 (2001): 96.

illegal slave trade that continued to Mauritius after the 1814 Treaty of Paris ceded the island and its dependencies to Britain and resumed to the Ile Bourbon, which the treaty had returned to French control after France abolished its slave trade in 1818. This clandestine trade funneled an estimated minimum of 75,800 to 88,800 East African and 43,800 to 51,400 Malagasy slave exports toward the Mascarenes between 1811 and the early 1830s.12 Mauritian officials reported that slavers sailing from the eastern African coast frequently transferred their human cargoes to smaller vessels, which aroused less suspicion when they approached the Mauritian and Réunionnais coasts, at Providence Island in the Farquhar group and in the Amirantes. Slave ships also landed men, women, and children in the Seychelles, where some underwent a modicum of acculturation before being forwarded to Mauritius, either surreptitiously or legally under government license.13 The magnitude of this activity is suggested by Mauritian police chief Edward Byam’s assertion that sixty-one of one hundred locally based ships that returned to the colony in 1822 from Madagascar and the Seychelles carried slaves as well as much-needed provisions in their holds, and by Mauritian authorities recording the legal importation of 1,560 male and 394 female slaves from the Seychelles between 1 August 1818 and 17 May 1826.14 The illicit trade’s demographic impact on the Seychelles is revealed by census and other reports, which indicate that the local slave population soared from 2,760 (or 3,015) men, women, and children in 1810 to as many as 7,323 in 1818 and numbered from 6,133 to 6,740 individuals between 1822 and 1827.15

Information about the Seychellois slave population’s structure and composition remains limited. The islands housed 959 men, 445 women, 345 boys, and 162 girls in 1804 compared to 3,225 men, 1,622 women, 665 boys, and 634 girls in 1826, figures consistent with the 2:1 male-to-female ratio that prevailed in Mauritius and other early 19th-century European slave colonies.16 Information about this population’s ethnic composition is limited to that provided by the 1826–1827 slave census, which recorded that the archipelago housed 2,231 Creole (i.e., locally born), 3,924 “Mozambican,” 282 Malagasy, 38 “Indian,” and 2 “Malay” slaves.17 An 1817 Mauritian slave census and other sources provide more detailed information about the possible origins of some of these men, women, and children. These sources reveal that the Mauritian slave population included individuals from thirteen ethno-cultural populations on Madagascar (Ambanivolo, Amboalambo [Hova, Merina], Andrantsay, Antaisaka, Antalaotra, Antanosy, Antatsimo, Antateime [sic], Betanimena, Maninga [sic], Betsileo, Marvace [sic], Sakalava) that can be identified with certainty and at least fourteen readily identifiable populations (Bisa, Ekoti, Kamanga, Lolo [Lomwe], Makonde, Makua, Maravi, Mrima, Mujao (probably Yao), Ngindo, Nyambane, Nyamwezi, Sagara, and Sena) in eastern Africa, some of whom came from as far away as modern Malawi and eastern Zambia.18

The Seychelles’ involvement in the Mascarene slave trade played a significant role in shaping local economic life during the 18th and early 19th centuries in several ways, including encouraging the development of a plantation sector that relied on slave labor to produce foodstuffs for local consumption and sale to passing ships. In 1786, for example, Seychellois colonists sold 22 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of their maize and rice crops to ships calling at the islands.19 Cotton, first exported from the islands in 1796, became the archipelago’s principal export between 1802 and the early 1820s when competition from American producers prompted local estate owners to shift to coconut production, primarily for oil. The slave trade also encouraged the development of a local shipbuilding and repair industry, which facilitated the ability of Seychellois colonists to mount a number of slaving voyages to the East African coast on their own account and the islands’ ability to service the American whaling ships that began to operate in the western Indian Ocean during the 1820s and continued to do so into the 1850s.20

From Abolition to Independence

The collapse of cotton exports, the lure of greater economic opportunities in Mauritius, the abolition of slavery in Mauritius and its dependencies on February 1, 1835, the termination of the post-emancipation “apprenticeship” system in the colony on March 31, 1839, and the withdrawal of many ex-apprentices from plantation labor contributed to significant changes in Seychellois social and economic life that lasted well into the 20th century. The economic consequences of the decision by perhaps one-half of the archipelago’s white and free colored inhabitants to move to Mauritius following the collapse in cotton exports and to take some three thousand slaves with them were compounded by the large-scale exodus of the islands’ ex-apprentices from plantation agriculture after 1839.21 Mauritian ordinances modeled on the former slave laws sought to compel these freedmen and -women to return to estate labor but were disallowed by the colonial secretary in London. Renewed attempts to regulate labor relationships and ensure social order in Mauritius and the Seychelles during the 1870s, however, received official sanction.22 The chronic shortage of agricultural labor in the Seychelles was partially alleviated by the landing between 1861 and 1875 of 2,667 “Liberated Africans” removed from Arab/Swahili dhows captured by Royal Navy ships that patrolled the western Indian Ocean as Britain strove to suppress the East African slave trades to the Persian Gulf and India during the second half of the 19th century.23

Many of these “Liberated Africans” were indentured to local planters for five years who employed them to produce the coconuts and manufacture the coconut oil that had become the islands’ principal export from the mid-1820s onward. Many of these workers refused to continue working on these plantations after they completed their indenture, whereupon local planters introduced the moitié (literally “half”) sharecropping scheme in an attempt to secure the labor they needed. The scale of coconut production during the latter part of the 19th century is indicated by an estimate that the islands contained more than one million coconut palms in 1875.24 Early in the 20th century, planters shifted to producing copra rather than coconut oil, and copra exports dominated the islands’ economy into the 1970s, accounting for 70 percent of Seychellois exports in 1960.25 In 1926, approximately 21,000 of the islands’ 24,700 cultivable acres were covered by coconut palms; in 1962, an estimated two million palms covered 23,000 acres and yielded more than 5,700 tons of copra for export. Copra production peaked at 7,093 tons in 1964, after which it began to decline in the face of increasing production costs, especially labor costs; pressure to convert agricultural land to other uses; aging coconut palm groves; and insect infestations.26 Fluctuations in the world market price for coconut oil encouraged attempts during the late 19th century to diversify the islands’ agricultural base. Planters on La Digue and Praslin produced vanilla between 1886 and 1904 before drought and competition from synthetic vanilla undermined the industry. Cinnamon production became increasingly important after 1904 and accounted for 24 percent of the value of Seychellois exports in 1960.27

The late 19th century witnessed the Seychelles resuming its role as a place to which political exiles were deported. The islands first served this function in 1801 when Jacobin deportees accused of participating in an attempt to assassinate Napoleon arrived from France. British authorities began using the Seychelles as a “barless prison” in 1875 when the deposed Sultan Abdullah Khan of Perak arrived. The islands housed a number of prominent exiled African rulers as the “Scramble” for African colonies drew to a close in the late 1890s. In 1899, Mwanga II, the kabaka of Buganda, and Kabarega, the omokama of Bunyoro, arrived after having been exiled from their kingdoms following these states’ incorporation into the British colony of Uganda. The following year witnessed the arrival of Asantehene Prempeh I, the ruler of the Asante kingdom that became part of Britain’s West African colony of the Gold Coast (modern Ghana), and his retinue who were joined by other Gold Coast deportees the following year. Political exiles from other British colonies and protectorates including Nyasaland (Malawi), Somaliland (Somalia), Zanzibar, Egypt, Aden, Palestine, and Cyprus arrived in the islands during the early and mid-20th century, perhaps the most famous of whom was Cypriot archbishop Makarios III in 1956. The last such political exile arrived from the Maldives in 1963.28

Autonomy, Independence, and the Postcolonial Era

After decades as an often neglected Mauritian dependency, the Seychelles became a separate Crown Colony on August 31, 1903. The islands’ new political status did little to alter local economic life, and the islands remained dependent into the 1960s on the exportation of copra and cinnamon and grants-in-aid from Britain. The opening of an international airport on Mahé in 1971, and the islands’ renowned natural beauty transformed the local economy into one dominated by tourism, which remains its most important sector, albeit one sensitive to the impact of global recessions and other events such as the financial crisis of 2008.29

The first stirrings of Seychellois political nationalism occurred during the early 1960s as the decolonization process in the British Empire led to the independence of Tanganyika in 1961, Uganda in 1962, and Kenya in 1963. As elsewhere in the empire, the speed of this process in the Seychelles was governed by domestic politics, more specifically the competition between the Seychelles Democratic Party led by James R. Mancham and the Seychelles People’s United Party led by France Albert René. The Seychelles gained independence on June 29, 1976, with Mancham as president, but his government was overthrown on June 5, 1977, by a coup d’état led by René who sought to establish a revolutionary socialist state and society. A new constitution promulgated in 1979 formalized the creation of a one-party system that survived several attempts to overthrow it during the 1980s. In 1991, increasing pressure from France and Great Britain led the government to agree to a return to multiparty politics, an agreement made manifest in a new constitution in June 1993. René was reelected president the following month as his renamed Seychelles People’s Progressive Front (SSPF) won the legislative election decisively. Subsequent elections maintained René and the SSPF in power. René resigned the presidency in 2004 and was succeeded by James Michel, who served as president until his resignation in October 2016. His successor, Danny Faure, remained in office until his electoral defeat by opposition leader Wavel Ramkalawan in October 2020.30

Discussion of the Literature

Although the Seychelles have been a subject of scholarly interest since the 1960s, the islands’ relative isolation, small size and population, and peripheral role in the history of the French and British colonial empires mean that many aspects of Seychellois history remain poorly understood, if not ignored altogether. Attempts at comprehensive histories of the islands are limited to the work of two amateur historians, Mauritian-born agronomist, naturalist, linguist, and author Guy Lionnet and journalist and newspaper editor William McAteer, and the problematic study by Pacific historian Deryck Scarr.31 These works provide sometimes detailed narrative accounts of events and developments in the islands’ history but fail to situate them in more fully developed local, regional, pan-regional, or comparative contexts. Histories of 18th- and 19th-century colonial Mauritius basically ignore the islands.32 Although Moses Nwulia included the Seychelles in the title of his study of slavery and indentured labor in Mauritius between 1810 and 1875, the islands received little substantive attention in his book.33 More specialized studies of the islands’ history are also comparatively few in number and tend to focus on slavery and associated developments during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The Seychelles have been a subject of interest to scholars from other disciplines such as geographer Jonathan Sauer and anthropologist Burton Benedict, both of whom include discussions of the islands’ history in their studies of, respectively, the relationship between plants and man on the Seychelles coast and Seychellois society and culture.34 Other anthropologists have examined life on Seychellois plantations during the late 20th century and the impact of globalization, while political scientists have focused on the attainment of independence in 1976, the 1977 coup and the creation of a one-party socialist state, and the reestablishment of a multiparty democracy in 1993.35

Primary Sources and Links to Digital Materials

Royal Navy Lieutenant James Prior, James Holman, and Robert Montgomery Martin published firsthand accounts of their brief visits to the Seychelles as part of their voyages in the Indian Ocean during the early 19th century.36 In 1909, A. A. Fauvel assembled a collection of previously unpublished documents on Seychellois history before 1810 drawn from journals, reports, and records preserved mostly in French archives; Fauvel’s work was republished in 1980 in collaboration with the Belgian government.37 The Seychelles National Archives hold a major collection of archival materials on the islands’ history. The National Archives of the United Kingdom at Kew house another such collection dating mostly from the period when the Seychelles were a Crown Colony (1903–1976); see especially the records of the Colonial Office (CO series). The Mauritius National Archives also contain information on the Seychelles before 1903; see A. Toussaint and H. Adolphe’s bibliography of Mauritius for a brief guide to these materials.38 Other materials, primarily from the French period (1770–1810), are in the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence. See also the consular records (1868–1887) for the Seychelles (Record Group 84.3) in the National Archives of the United States.

Further Reading

  • Allen, Richard B. European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500–1850. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014.
  • Benedict, Marion, and Burton Benedict. Men, Women, and Money in Seychelles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
  • Lionnet, Guy. The Seychelles. Newton Abbot, UK: David & Charles, 1972.
  • McAteer, William. Hard Times in Paradise: The History of Seychelles, 1827–1919. Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2000.
  • McAteer, William. Rivals in Eden: The History of Seychelles, 1742–1827, rev. ed. Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2002.
  • McAteer, William. To Be a Nation: The History of Seychelles, 1920–1976. Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2008.
  • Sauer, Jonathan D. Plants and Man on the Seychelles Coast: A Study in Historical Biogeography. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.
  • Scarr, Deryck. Seychelles since 1770: History of a Slave and Post-Slavery Society. London: C. Hurst, 2000.

Notes

  • 1. On Euro-American pirates in the western Indian Ocean, see Arne Bialuschewski, “Pirates, Slavers, and the Indigenous Population in Madagascar, c. 1690–1715,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 38, no. 3 (2005): 401–425; Jane Hooper, “Pirates and Kings: Power on the Shores of Early Modern Madagascar and the Indian Ocean,” Journal of World History 22, no. 2 (2011): 215–242; and Ryan Holroyd, “Whatever Happened to Those Villains of the Indian Seas? The Happy Retirement of the Madagascar Pirates, 1698–1721,” International Journal of Maritime History 29, no. 4 (2017): 752–770.

  • 2. Guy Lionnet, The Seychelles (Newton Abbot, UK: David & Charles, 1972), 68; William McAteer, Rivals in Eden: The History of the Seychelles, 1742–1827, rev. ed. (Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2002), 62–63. On attempts to encourage spice cultivation in the Mascarenes, see Madeleine Ly-Tio-Fane, Mauritius and the Spice Trade: The Odyssey of Pierre Poivre (Port Louis, Mauritius: Esclapon, 1958); Madeleine Ly-Tio-Fane, The Triumph of Jean Nicolas Céré and his Isle Bourbon Collaborators (Paris: Mouton et Cie, 1970); Dorit Brixius, “A Hard Nut to Crack: Nutmeg Cultivation and the Application of Natural History between the Maluku Islands and Isle de France (1750s–1780s),” British Journal of the History of Science 51, no. 4 (2018): 585–606. On Poivre’s involvement in French attempts to procure and cultivate cloves and nutmegs, see Dorit Brixius, “A Pepper Acquiring Nutmeg: Pierre Poivre, the French Spice Quest and the Role of Mediators in Southeast Asia, 1740s to 1770s,” Journal of the Western Society for French History 43 (2015): 68–77.

  • 3. Claude Wanquet, “Le peuplement des Seychelles sous l’occupation française: Une Experience de Colonization à la fin du XVIIIe Siècle,” in Mouvements de Populations dans l’océan Indien (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1979), 188–190.

  • 4. Peter Nicholls, “‘The Door to the Coast of Africa’: The Seychelles in the Mascarene Slave Trade, 1770–1830” (PhD diss., University of Kent, 2018), 22, 32–33, 58, 64. For an initial suggestion to this effect, see Richard B. Allen, European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500–1850 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014), 100.

  • 5. Jehanne-Emmanuelle Monnier, “Migration from Reunion as a Factor in the Early Development of Seychelles (1770–1903),” Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 15, no. 1 (2019): 10–11.

  • 6. On the archipelago’s non-slave population during the early 19th century, see Joël Eymeret, “Population et vie quotidienne aux Seychettes [sic] sous le Premier Empire,” Revue française d’histoire d’outre-mer 71, no. 262–263 (1984): 5–29.

  • 7. Richard B. Allen, “The Mascarene Slave-Trade and Labour Migration in the Indian Ocean during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” in The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, ed. Gwyn Campbell (London: Frank Cass, 2004), 41. These figures do not include an estimated 46,200–53,400 Malagasy exports toward the Mascarenes during the same period.

  • 8. On the problems reconstructing the Mascarene slave trade, see Allen, European Slave Trading, 65–67. See also Richard B. Allen, “Ending the History of Silence: Reconstructing European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean,” Revista Tempo [Brazil] 23, no. 2 (2017): 294–313.

  • 9. Richard B. Allen, unpublished inventory of the intra-colonial slaving voyages between the Seychelles and the Mascarenes, 1796–1811.

  • 10. Nicholls estimates that two-thirds of slave ships returning to the Mascarenes from East Africa called at the islands during the 1780s (“‘The Door to the Coast of Africa’,” 106).

  • 11. Allen, European Slave Trading, 80.

  • 12. Allen, “The Mascarene Slave-Trade,” 41. The illegal Mauritian trade ended circa 1826, while references to the illegal Réunionnais trade disappear from the archival record circa 1833. For a fuller account of the clandestine Mascarene trade, see Allen, European Slave Trading, 141–178.

  • 13. Allen, European Slave Trading, 158. An act of Parliament permitted legally held slaves to be transferred from the Seychelles to Mauritius. Royal Navy officers complained repeatedly during the early 1820s about the abuse of this act to conceal illicit slave imports into Mauritius.

  • 14. Allen, European Slave Trading, 105; and British Parliament Sessional Papers 1828 XXV (205), 77.

  • 15. Richard B. Allen, “Licentious and Unbridled Proceedings: The Illegal Slave Trade to Mauritius and the Seychelles during the Early Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History 43, no. 1 (2001): 96.

  • 16. Robert R. Kuczynski, Demographic Survey of the British Empire, vol. 2 (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 907, 909–910. Boys and girls were usually defined as being 14 years of age and younger.

  • 17. Kuczynski, Demographic Survey, 908. The descriptor “Mozambican” referred to slaves originating from along the Swahili Coast as well as Mozambique, while “Indian” denoted slaves from Bengal, the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, and the Tamil-speaking areas of South India, and “Malay” indicated those of Southeast Asian origin.

  • 18. Allen, European Slave Trading, 73–74.

  • 19. Nicholls, “‘The Door to the Coast of Africa’,” 77, 81. On islands’ importance as provisioning centers for shipping in the Indian Ocean, see Jane Hooper, Feeding Globalization: Madagascar and the Provisioning Trade, 1600–1800 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2017); and Jane Hooper, “American Provisioning and the Environmental Impact on Islands in the Indian Ocean,” Global Food History 6, no. 3 (2020): 194–210.

  • 20. Nicholls, “‘The Door to the Coast of Africa’,” 82, 99. On American whalers that visited the Seychelles, see William McAteer, Hard Times in Paradise: The History of Seychelles, 1827–1919 (Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2000), 25–36. On the scale of this activity, see Tim D. Smith, Randall R. Reeves, Elizabeth A. Josephson, and Judith N. Lund, “Spatial and Seasonal Distribution of American Whaling and Whales in the Age of Sail,” PLoS ONE 7, no. 4 (2012): e34905. On whalers’ environmental impact in the Seychelles, see Hooper, “American Provisioning,” 200–202.

  • 21. Cindy Davids, “Colonialism and the Criminal Law: The Transition from Slavery to Wage Labour in Seychelles Prior to 1903,” Humanity and Society 18, no. 1 (1994), 22–38. On ex-apprentices in post-emancipation Mauritius, see Richard B. Allen, Slaves, Freedmen, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 105–135.

  • 22. Davids, “Colonialism and the Criminal Law.”

  • 23. Moses D. E. Nwulia, The History of Slavery in Mauritius and the Seychelles, 1810–1875 (Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981), 197. See also Matthew Hopper, “Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World,” in Liberated Africans and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1807–1896, ed. Richard Anderson and Henry R. Lovejoy (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2020), 271–294, esp. 284–286.

  • 24. Jean-Pierre Doumenge, “Les îles Seychelles,” Annales de géographie 96, no. 533 (1987): 95.

  • 25. Doumenge, “Les îles Seychelles.” Copra is dried coconut meat from which oil is extracted.

  • 26. Martin H. Fowler, “Coconut Production in Seycheles [sic],” Coconut Research and Development Journal 4, no. 2 (1988): 1–3.

  • 27. Doumenge, “Les îles Seychelles,” 95. For a study of agriculture and the plantation system’s vestiges on one of the archipelago’s smaller islands, see Jean-François Dupon, “Aspects de l’agriculture aux Seychelles: L’exemple de l’île Silhouette,” Cahiers d’outre-mer no. 95 (1971): 217–244.

  • 28. Lionnet, The Seychelles, 101–102. See also Uma Kothari, “Contesting Colonial Rule: Politics of Exile in the Indian Ocean,” Geoforum 43, no. 4 (2012), 697–706.

  • 29. For example, Katarzyna Podhorodecka, “The Economic Significance of the Tourism Sector in Seychelles in the Wake of Global Economic Crisis,” Economic Problems of Tourism 3 (2018), 29–40; Neelu Seetaram and Brigette Joubert, “Tourism in the Seychelles: Trends and Experiences,” in Tourism Management in Warm-water Island Destinations, ed. Michelle McLeod and Robertico Croes (Boston: CAB International, 2018), 131–146; and Andrea Giampiccoli, Oliver Mtapuri, and John Nauright, “Tourism Development in the Seychelles: A Proposal for a Unique Community-Based Tourism Alternative,” Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 3, no. 4 (2020), .

  • 30. On the decolonization process and the early postcolonial era, see Marcus F. Franda, The Seychelles: Unquiet Islands (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1982); Deryck Scarr, Seychelles since 1770: History of a Slave and Post-Slavery Society (London: C. Hurst, 2000), 164–203; and William McAteer, To Be a Nation: The History of Seychelles, 1920–1976 (Mahé, Seychelles: Pristine Books, 2008), passim.

  • 31. Lionnet, The Seychelles; McAteer, Rivals in Eden; Hard Times in Paradise; To Be a Nation; and Scarr, Seychelles since 1770. See the reviews of Scarr, Seychelles since 1770 by Richard B. Allen, “Slavery and After in the Seychelles,” Journal of African History 4, no. 2 (2001), 503–505; and Jean Houbert, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 72, no. 2 (2002), 329–334.

  • 32. For example, Auguste Toussaint, Histoire des îles Mascareignes (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1972); Vijaya Teelock, Bitter Sugar: Sugar and Slavery in 19th Century Mauritius (Moka, Mauritius: Mahatma Gandhi Institute Press, 1998); Allen, Slaves, Freedmen; and Megan Vaughan, Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005).

  • 33. Nwulia, The History of Slavery.

  • 34. Jonathan D. Sauer, Plants and Man on the Seychelles Coast: A Study of Human Biogeography (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967); Burton Benedict, People of the Seychelles, 3rd ed. (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1970); Burton Benedict, “Slavery and Indenture in Mauritius and Seychelles,” in Asian and African Systems of Slavery, ed. James L. Watson (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980), 135–168; and Marion Benedict and Benedict Benedict, Men, Women, and Money in the Seychelles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).

  • 35. Jon Pederson, The Social Construction of Fertility: Population Processes on a Plantation in the Seychelles (Oslo, Norway: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, 1985); Jon Pederson, “Plantation Women and Children: Wage Labor, Adoption, and Fertility in the Seychelles,” Ethnology 26, no. 1 (1987): 51–61; Gunnvor Berge, Hierarchy, Equality and Social Change: Exchange Processes on a Seychelles Plantation (Oslo, Norway: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, 1987); Thomas Hylland Eriksen, “Implications of Runaway Globalisation in the Seychelles,” Small States and Territories 3, no. 1 (2020): 9–20; for example, Franda, The Unquiet Islands; B. Baker, “Seychelles: Democratising in the Shadows of the Past,” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 26, no. 3 (2008): 279–293; Wouter Veenendaal, “Political Representation in Microstates: St. Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, and Palau,” Comparative Politics 45, no. 4 (2013): 437–456; Wouter Veenendaal, Politics and Democracy in Microstates (London: Routledge, 2014), 136–169; and Mosmi Bhim, “Does Electoral Authoritarianism Persist? A Comparison of Recent Elections in Fiji, Seychelles, and Maldives,” in Governance and Political Adaptation in Fragile States, ed. John Idriss Lahai, Karin von Strokivch, Howard Brasted, and Helen Ware (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 243–270.

  • 36. James Prior, Voyage in the Indian Seas, in the Nisus Frigate, to the Cape of Good Hope, Isles of Bourbon, France, and Seychelles; to Madras; and the Isles of Java, St. Paul, and Amsterdam, during the Years 1810 and 1811 (London: Printed for Richard Phillips, 1820); James Holman, A Voyage Round the World, including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, Etc. Etc. from MDCCCXXII, vol. 3 (London: Smith, Elder and Company, 1835); and Robert Montgomery Martin, History of Southern Africa: Comprising the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Seychelles, & c., vol. 2 (London: John Martimer, 1836).

  • 37. Albert-Auguste Fauvel, Unpublished Documents on the History of the Seychelles Islands Anterior to 1810 (1980; rept., Mahé, Seychelles: Government Printing Office, 1909).

  • 38. Auguste Toussaint and Harold Adolphe, Bibliography of Mauritius (1502–1954), Covering the Printed Record, Manuscripts, Archivalia and Cartographic Material (Port Louis, Mauritius: Esclapon, 1956), 595.