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date: 02 July 2022

Forced Labor in Portuguese Africafree

Forced Labor in Portuguese Africafree

  • Zachary Kagan GuthrieZachary Kagan GuthrieUniversity of Mississippi


Forced labor was central to the modern history of the Portuguese empire. It was widely imposed across Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé, and Guinea after the imposition of Portuguese colonial rule in the late 19th century and persisted within the Portuguese empire for decades after it had been abolished by other European powers. The brutal violence and far-reaching social disruption created by forced labor had a profound impact on colonized communities. It was one of the most important ways that individual subjects interacted with the Portuguese colonial state. Forced labor was also fundamental in structuring the economic, political, social, and ideological contours of the Portuguese empire: the colonial economy was deeply dependent on the exploitation facilitated by forced labor, and both the operations of the Portuguese colonial administration and the justification for its existence were closely intertwined with conscripting forced workers. Finally, the prevalence of forced labor in the Portuguese empire precipitated recurring international scandals, which did a great deal to define Portuguese colonialism in the eyes of the world. Studying forced labor has therefore become an important methodology for understanding the depredations of Portuguese colonial rule, its impact on the lives of the people it governed, and the economic and political organization of the Portuguese empire.


  • Slavery and Slave Trade


Forced labor was an integral part of Portuguese colonial rule in Africa from its inception in the late 19th century to its dissolution in 1974. Being conscripted into forced labor, or navigating the absence of family members who were conscripted, was a nearly ubiquitous experience for those living under Portuguese colonial rule, and was one of the most important ways that people interacted with the colonial state. Forced labor also shaped the economics, ideology, and politics of the empire itself. It was a key aspect of the Portuguese colonial economy, which relied on woefully underpaid African labor. The need to provide undercapitalized Portuguese employers with a ready source of cheap labor was vital in driving the use of labor coercion across the Portuguese empire. Labor also assumed an outsized role in Portugal’s civilizing mission; while the equation of European civilizational ideology with wage labor was not unique to Portugal, it was crucial in providing the framework through which forced labor was imposed. The mandate of civilization, as well as the racialized difference that this mandate encoded, readily justified the widespread use of compulsory labor. Finally, forced labor was essential in the politics of colonial rule and was a key method through which Portuguese administrators asserted their sovereignty over the colonies. In the decades during and after colonial takeover, forced labor was important in demonstrating Portuguese dominion, both to competing colonial powers and to newly colonized subjects. Even after colonial rule had been consolidated, forced labor became crucial in ensuring that the often-distant Portuguese administration remained capable of broadcasting its power over otherwise recalcitrant subjects.

Forced labor was essential across the Portuguese empire, but its specific manifestations assumed many forms. It was shaped by the economic exigencies of specific regions, the social dynamics of African communities targeted by its imposition, the forms of local rule that underlay colonial administration, and the gendered and generational expectations of who should be performing what types of work. In addition, the specific forms of compulsion that defined forced labor were highly variable, both in different parts of the empire and at different times in colonial history. Low pay, exploitative working conditions, and brutal treatment were all common, but the specific methods used by the Portuguese authorities to restrict and control workers’ autonomy varied widely.

The extensive use of forced labor was central in defining the Portuguese empire’s identity to the rest of the world. While the British, French, and Belgian empires made similar use of coercive labor practices, a series of well-publicized international scandals made Portugal the symbolic exemplar of forced labor in colonial Africa. In 1906, the plight of Angolan workers on the cocoa plantations of São Tomé sparked a global campaign against British chocolate manufacturers for condoning labor practices considered tantamount to slavery. In 1925, a League of Nations investigation into forced labor in Angola and Mozambique led to Portugal’s referral to the Slavery Commission of the League of Nations. In 1961, Portugal was the target of a Ghanaian complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO) against its labor practices. Portugal was the last colonizing power to sign the ILO Convention against forced labor, and forced labor remained officially legal in the Portuguese empire until 1961, well after it had been abolished by other European colonial powers. Many of the first academic studies of Portuguese colonial rule were similarly concerned with charting the predations of Portuguese authorities in imposing forced labor upon the populations they ruled. As a result, the methods of labor compulsion employed by the Portuguese authorities were frequently portrayed as anomalous outliers from related forms of controlling workers utilized by other European empires. Forced labor is therefore important not just in understanding the history of the Portuguese empire, but also in charting the evolution of global ideas of “free labor” and “forced labor” from the abolition of slavery to the present day.

From Slavery to Forced Labor in the Portuguese Empire

The abolition of slavery in the Portuguese Empire was brought about through a series of laws passed between 1854 and 1858, which determined that slavery would end in 1878. A subsequent law passed in 1869 immediately abolished slavery but required individuals freed from slavery—christened libertos—to continue working for their former enslavers until 1878. In 1876, yet another law converted the final two years of service into work as “contract” workers. This last law began a long history of obfuscating labor coercion through the use of nominally legalistic forms, particularly a work “contract.”1 Forced labor continued through these legalistic forms during the interregnum between the abolition of slavery in the 1870s and the expansion of Portuguese colonial rule in the 1880s and 1890s. In Mozambique and Angola, post-abolition laws banning “vagrancy” and permitting the “apprenticeship” of workers ensured a continued supply of forced workers, while on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, formerly enslaved persons were required to continue to work on the cocoa plantations (roças) after abolition.2

These forms of forced labor were, in many cases, little different from enslavement. In Angola, “apprentice” workers were frequently bought and sold in a system that had almost no meaningful distinction from slavery.3 Similarly, workers from Angola who were sent to São Tomé were sold by labor brokers with the understanding that they would never be returning home.4 In Mozambique, many workers understood new forms of forced labor through reference to older forms of slavery, and many “free” workers from Mozambique were sent into lengthy labor contracts on French islands in the Indian Ocean, a system that resembled the shipment of workers from Angola to São Tomé.5

The many continuities with slavery notwithstanding, the formal abolition of slavery had nonetheless opened the possibility of a more liberal approach to labor relations that, in some parts of the Portuguese empire, complicated the widespread use of labor coercion.6 This orientation proved incompatible with the growing demand for African workers following the expansion of Portuguese colonial dominion in Mozambique and Angola during the 1880s and 1890s.7 Many top officials in Portugal’s expanding empire thus defended the importance of forced labor in buttressing the economic and political foundations of newly created colonial administrations. In Mozambique, for example, the argument in favor of forced labor was most clearly enunciated by the influential colonial official António Enes, who proclaimed forced labor to be “the most disciplining authority, the conquest least exposed to revolt, the army that can occupy the most impassable wilderness.”8 The arguments of Enes and others in favor of forced labor carried the day, and Portuguese policy changed in the 1890s to explicitly allow for the more extensive imposition of forced labor. These changes culminated in the 1899 creation of a new labor code (Regulamento de Trabalho Indígena), authored by Enes, which established the legal basis for compulsory labor among African subjects and provided a broad umbrella under which forced labor could be imposed by local authorities.9

The imposition of forced labor was thus closely linked to the expansion of Portuguese colonial rule, as well as the early attempts by Portuguese officials to create new colonial economies. Nonetheless, the resulting forms of forced labor depended greatly on local political and economic conditions, as the forced labor system was constructed around shifting local demands for workers. These demands ultimately drove the imposition of forced labor: in most cases, employers who needed workers would appeal to the local administration, which would then transmit orders for labor conscription down the bureaucratic chain to the local “chiefs,” who would round up individual workers, sometimes with the assistance of the administrative police. Labor conscripts were then sent into a “contract” with a particular employer for a fixed period. Successive decades brought consistent attempts by Portuguese authorities to rationalize the labor conscription system by routing the multiple demands for forced workers through a centralized bureaucracy, which would then transform labor conscription into a consistent, routinized process. These attempts were not particularly successful, given the thin administrative apparatus of the Portuguese colonial state. As a result, conscription into forced labor remained an unpredictable, violent process in which the fate of individual workers was determined by the vicissitudes of employers’ demand, the shifting policies pursued by administrators and local chiefs, and workers’ own decisions about how best to navigate the brutalities of the colonial political economy.

The imposition of forced labor, alongside the expansion of colonial rule, precipitated a broad range of social and political consequences everywhere it was imposed. In central and southern Mozambique, the growing conscription of workers brought about widespread flight into the neighboring territories of South Africa, Rhodesia, and Nyasaland, where wages were generally higher and treatment was generally better, which fueled a long-standing process of cross-border labor migration from Mozambique to its neighbors.10 Other workers sought the comparative benefits of “voluntary” labor, particularly domestic work in the cities, which contributed to the gradual creation of an urban working class.11 In northern Mozambique, the imposition of forced labor helped to reshape existing ethnic and geographical identities, and realigned preexisting categories of slavery and servitude toward a colonial ideology of “civilization” and barbarism.12 In northern Angola, the expansion of the Portuguese colonial administration into the territory of the former Kingdom of Kongo facilitated the widespread use of forced labor in plantations in Cabinda. Labor conscription was carried out with the assistance of the chiefs of Kongo, which rapidly undermined existing sociopolitical relations and culminated in a revolt against the illegitimacy of the new colonial regime.13 In central Angola, labor conscription for expanding colonial enterprises intensified the gap between rich and poor in Ovimbundu societies, as wealthier individuals found ways to evade the burden of forced labor by dispatching less favored individuals into the maw of the Portuguese labor regime. But as the demand for labor expanded, so did the scope of labor coercion, and soon individuals whose wealth and status had previously insulated them from the labor demands of the Portuguese were being sent into forced labor under conditions they equated with slavery.14

Virtually every significant industry in the Portuguese empire relied on forced labor. While wages and treatment differed between different employers and different colonies, Portuguese economic enterprises were generally either unwilling or unable to create the kind of working conditions that would attract enough voluntary workers to function. In this, the Portuguese empire was not anomalous: there were many employers across colonial Africa who did not wish to pay livable wages and relied on state coercion to obtain workers. For example, the expansion of settler farming was particularly dependent on forced labor across colonial Africa, as poorly capitalized small farmers relied on the coercive machinery of the colonial administration to make their economic model viable.15 Mozambique and Angola were no exception; in central Mozambique, for example, a burgeoning group of settler farmers in the districts of Manica and Chimoio were entirely dependent on forced workers supplied by the colonial administration—due in no small part to the farmers’ reputation as particularly brutal employers.16 Sugarcane plantations in Mozambique and Angola used a more varied workforce than did the white farmers, establishing labor hierarchies that attracted some volunteers, but they remained similarly dependent on forced labor to function—again, mirroring plantation economies elsewhere in colonial Africa.17 The construction of roads, railways, and other forms of infrastructure was poorly paid and heavily dependent on forced workers—as in the rest of colonial Africa, where cash-strapped administrations relied on widespread labor coercion to expand the infrastructure underpinning the colonial state.18

While employers and administrators across colonial Africa depended on forced labor, it was the Portuguese empire that came to exemplify the abuses committed against African workers under European colonial rule. Many observers viewed the practices of forced labor in the Portuguese empire as largely analogous to slavery.19 Perhaps the most important example came from the cocoa plantations of São Tomé following the abolition of slavery, when workers from rural Angola began arriving on long-term “contracts,” which were renewed by plantation owners without the assent of the workers. Since these “contract” workers were rarely able to return home, they proved vulnerable to increasingly severe forms of exploitation.20 Over the course of the final decades of the 19th century, conditions on the cocoa plantations steadily worsened: death rates were high, the labor was difficult, and punishment was brutal.21

The labor system in São Tomé offered clear parallels to the slave trade and soon attracted international attention. The journalist Henry Nevinson published an exposé that created a major international scandal involving the British firm Cadbury and led to promises from the Portuguese government to substantially reform its colonial labor practices.22 São Tomé was not entirely anomalous within the cocoa economy of the Gulf of Guinea; other cocoa plantations in the region relied on similar mechanisms of labor coercion that involved importing workers from far away, thus ensuring that workers had no control over their working conditions and little prospect of returning home.23 Nonetheless, the international focus on São Tomé helped cement the idea of the Portuguese empire as the worst perpetrator of coercive labor practices in colonial Africa—an idea that would be reinforced as forced labor continued to expand throughout the Portuguese empire in subsequent decades.

Forced Labor and Colonial Rule, 1890s–1920s

The Portuguese government’s promises of substantial labor reform following the São Tomé scandal proved hollow, and forced labor remained integral to the Portuguese colonial project over the next several decades. The inseparability of forced labor and Portuguese colonial rule was manifest in several dimensions. The first was as a justification: labor remained at the core of Portugal’s “civilizing mission,” the central tool through which Portugal would supposedly convert African subjects into civilized members of global society.24 Enes, for example, in defending the imposition of forced labor, argued that:

Work is the most moralizing mission, the most instructive school . . . the education that will make brutes into men. The savage that is brought into work becomes captive to civilization; it is that which disciplines him. The rural dullard who sees the glint of his wages in the palm of his hand, and with it buys clothing for his nudity or food for his hunger, feels ignited in him the stimuli that, properly cultivated, impel all of the marvels of his effort and all of the miracles of human ingenuity; if civilization blows on this spark, it creates a soul. I do not know if Africa will someday have a messiah. If it does, the Good News of its evangelization will be a precept of work, and its radiant empire will open only for these blessed workers.25

The ideology of civilization through labor operated symbiotically with the material and political goals of the Portuguese administration. Forced labor was necessary for ensuring the profitability of Portuguese colonial enterprises: it was one of the only means of driving people to work for the low wages paid by Portuguese employers, as the weak administrative apparatus governing Portugal’s African colonies generally did not have the capacity to otherwise force individuals, through taxation or land alienation, into selling their labor.26 Meanwhile, for workers in the Portuguese colonies who did wish to engage in wage labor, it was often more desirable to do so by emigrating abroad, since Portuguese firms in Angola and Mozambique rarely paid workers as much as they might earn in neighboring colonies.27 The constant departure of workers from Mozambique and Angola, both to evade the impositions of Portuguese colonial rule and seek out better employment options abroad, constantly threatened to further undermine the economic viability of the Portuguese colonial project.28

Finally, forced labor was a crucial tool through which Portuguese administrators established their authority over the territories they governed. Portuguese colonial administrators were heavily focused on creating a bureaucratic apparatus capable of conscripting sufficient workers to meet the demands of colonial employers and distributing those workers to employers in an economically rational way. Making forced labor into the primary mode of labor relations gave administrators a powerful tool through which to direct the colonial economy. It also provided a powerful tool through which administrators could continually project their personal and political authority over colonized subjects, cementing their position as the social and political embodiment of Portuguese sovereignty.

Crucial within forced labor’s political role was its central role in Portuguese claims to a civilizational and racial superiority over the people they ruled. The mythology of the lazy African, unwilling to work without the compulsion of colonial rule, was widespread across colonial Africa, and the Portuguese empire was certainly no exception.29 Enes, for example, wrote that the abolition of slavery

would have already entirely spoiled the natives of Mozambique if they were more intelligent and less ignorant, and if their innate awareness of their inferiority had not resisted the suggestions of the laws which make them equal to, if not better than, the whites.30

The prominent Portuguese writer J. P. Oliveira Martins similarly argued that Africans were biologically inferior due to their “natural state of indolence and laziness,” in which they worked

only when pushed by immediate need: and the blacks have few needs, and they are easily satisfied. They do not give up their freedom of laziness, which for them are the happy conditions of a savage life, for fixed, constant, everyday work, which is the difficult precondition of civilized life.31

Racialized ideas of African laziness continued to reverberate as a justification for forced labor throughout the history of Portuguese colonial rule. A half century after Enes and Martins had written their manifestos, the governor-general of Mozambique defended his forced labor policy in 1942 through the same racist discourse of civilization and labor, explaining that “the offering of work in Africa cannot continue to depend on the whim of the black man, who by temperament and natural environment is inclined to a minimal effort that corresponds to the minimum that his necessities require.”32 A high-ranking colonial official named Abel de Sousa Moutinho, in a speech delivered to African subjects in central Mozambique defending the forced labor policy, underlined the racial mandates of Portuguese forced labor policy even more forcefully:

All of the natives judge themselves victims of too much work. Look, in all the world, the people who show the least desire to work are the blacks! In Portugal there are no blacks, and it is the whites who do everything: women and men fulfill all of the jobs within every aspect of social and economic life. In Africa—the land of the blacks because God determined this—it is the “native society” to which you belong that must labor, guided and directed by the whites. The whites work their whole lives, and you blacks think it’s a punishment having to work for 6 months each year!33

The interlocking mandates of racial and civilizational ideology, political control, and economic imperative ensured that forced labor remained central across the Portuguese empire. In Angola, the expansion of forced labor was briefly interrupted by the installation of the reformist Norton de Matos as governor between 1913 and 1916, which brought an end to the most extreme forms of labor coercion. Nonetheless, state control over African workers remained extensive, forced labor remained widespread, and both trends accelerated after de Matos’s departure.34 In Mozambique, the first decades of the 20th century saw the continued expansion of the colonial labor bureaucracy charged with imposing forced labor, which gradually spread the reach of its operations throughout the colony.35 On São Tomé, forced workers continued to arrive from Angola, joined by workers from Cabo Verde and Mozambique, with few opportunities for challenging the power of the plantation owners.36

The expansion of forced labor throughout the first decades of Portuguese colonial rule was temporarily halted following its official abolition by Portuguese law in 1928 and the onset of the Great Depression in the late 1920s. The legal abolition of forced labor followed another international outcry over Portuguese labor practices. In 1925, Edward Ross, a sociologist from the University of Wisconsin, went to Angola and Mozambique to investigate labor conditions in the Portuguese colonies. Ross issued a report to the League of Nations detailing severe corporal punishment, frequent theft of wages, coercive obligations to labor, and workers’ total inability to control their working conditions.37 In response to Ross’s report, the Portuguese government instituted new legislation that officially prohibited “all regimes under which the State is obligated to supply native workers.”38 The intent of the new legislation was clear: In Mozambique, the regulations that implemented the law flatly declared that “the State does not impose nor does it permit the demand from natives in its colonies any type of obligatory or compelled labor for private ends.”39 At the same time, the Great Depression helped dampen labor demand, although with differing impacts on different parts of the empire. In Mozambique, the reduced demand for labor led to both a drop in wages for workers and a temporary alleviation in labor conscription.40 In São Tomé, many workers were repatriated after the onset of the Depression, but those who remained were subject to even more extreme forms of labor control.41 Regardless, the changes to the forced labor system provoked by the Great Depression proved temporary; following the economic expansion spurred by World War II, forced labor again became widespread across the Portuguese empire.

Forced Labor in the Era of Development, 1930s–1960s

Forced labor was illegal under Portuguese law after 1928. Legal abolition notwithstanding, numerous studies of various regions of the Portuguese empire have demonstrated the continuing reliance on forced labor—particularly once the economic paralysis of the Great Depression waned in the 1930s. As with the first decades of colonial rule, the specific modes of forced labor that took shape during the 1940s and 1950s were highly dependent on local circumstances, since the forced labor system was organized around specific employers’ demands for workers. In the central Mozambican province of Zambézia, administrative officials in the 1940s began allying with local chiefs in an attempt to systematically conscript workers for regional employers, most notably the huge sugar plantations of Sena Sugar Estates, as well as several tea and sisal plantations.42 The large Cassequel sugar plantation in central Angola similarly depended on forced workers conscripted by local chiefs; after arriving at the plantations, laborers’ daily work tasks were enforced through brutal physical punishments.43 In the central Mozambican districts of Manica and Chimoio, white settler farmers remained almost entirely dependent on forced workers brought in from an ever-expanding set of neighboring districts.44 It was not just rural employers who depended on forced workers: in the Mozambican capital of Lourenço Marques, a postwar construction boom was also undertaken on the backs of overworked and underpaid labor conscripts.45 In central Angola, many workers were conscripted to work for local settler farmers and for large employers established elsewhere in the colony—from the diamond mines in the north to the fishing industry in the south, while over the course of the 1950s, and especially into the 1960s, the number of labor migrants continued to grow, supplying workers to the expanding coffee plantations in northern Angola.46 São Tomé also remained dependent on forced laborers sent from Mozambique and Angola, who continued to labor under terrible conditions with little hope of repatriation.47 Many of these workers had been sentenced to lengthy terms of penal labor in Angola and Mozambique, often on the basis of spurious accusations, a process driven by the urgent demands from Portuguese authorities to find more workers who could be sent to São Tomé.48

Alongside the continued use of forced labor among colonial employers, the 1930s also saw a vast expansion of forced cash crop cultivation. The forced cultivation program aimed to further entrench the Portuguese empire as the supplier of raw materials to the metropole, most notably cotton. Forced cash-crop cultivation was vitally important in extending forced labor’s impact, an expansion felt in two dimensions. The first was in multiplying the number of people who had to perform forced labor. Women were legally exempt from the types of forced wage labor that had long been imposed on men—but it was women who were targeted for compulsory labor under the forced cultivation program. Forced cultivation allowed Portuguese authorities to reap the profits of female workers’ labor, which had previously been less directly incorporated into the colonial political economy. Second, forced crop cultivation extended the geographic reach of forced labor. There were many areas in the Portuguese empire that lacked large colonial employers and consequently imposed forced labor only to the extent that conscripted workers could be forced to migrate to areas where their labor was needed by employers established elsewhere. The forced cultivation scheme changed this dynamic by extending labor coercion into a larger number of households across a wider geographical area. Forced cultivation was a form of forced labor that wrought a profound impact on the everyday lives of people living under Portuguese colonial rule. It spurred important changes to gender relationships by requiring women to work for the state, severely worsened food insecurity by forcing peasants to concentrate their efforts on cotton, and exacerbated social distinctions between wealthier chiefs, who were well-positioned to take advantage of cash-crop cultivation, and their impoverished subjects, who were not.49

The importance of the cotton regime also demonstrates the limitations of analyzing forced labor’s impact according to the gender ideology used by the Portuguese.50 Portuguese policies were largely directed toward compelling and regulating wage labor performed by men for colonial employers. As a result, most histories of forced labor in the Portuguese empire have focused on men. Nonetheless, the impact and operation of forced labor went far beyond the men who performed it, and women played a vital role in underpinning the forced labor system.51 First, gender was crucial in justifying the forced labor program, as it was central to the racist ideology propagated by the Portuguese that African men were intrinsically lazy social parasites who lived off the sweat of their wives’ cultivation and thus needed to be forced to work. At the same time, Portuguese officials were well aware that the meager wages paid to men kept them reliant on the unpaid labor of women, whose cultivation of food crops underpinned the migrant labor system. Women were similarly essential in maintaining the forced labor system against any possible attempts at resistance, as women were frequently taken as hostages to force otherwise recalcitrant men to accept forced labor and to dissuade them from the possibility of flight.52 Finally, women were crucial in maintaining the migratory foundation of forced labor; it was women who guaranteed the spatial and social division between places of employment and rural communities that made forced labor possible.53 Since successfully imposing forced labor required Portuguese authorities to compel people to leave their homes in order to work for colonial employers for a set period of time, keeping women in an imagined rural “home” to which those men would return was a necessary foundation of the system.54

While forced labor remained widespread throughout the 1940s and 1950s, it was increasingly challenged by a series of changes within and beyond the Portuguese empire. The first of these changes was growing urbanization, a change mirrored across colonial Africa, which undermined the migratory bedrock of compulsory labor. In Lourenço Marques, for example, domestic work and some factory jobs began attracting women workers, helping to transform the urban African population during decades of rapid growth.55 A new stratum of middle-class Africans, including women, became more visible in the postwar decades, and in staking a claim to their position within urban Mozambique, they helped further reinforce the nascent trend toward urbanization and away from migrant labor.56 Angola saw similar trends of urbanization and labor specialization, spurred in large part by the changing gender dynamics of work. Among the large workforce of the diamond company Diamang, the inclusion of women accompanying male workers brought a new degree of stability and professionalism to the workforce.57 In Huambo, the urban population more than doubled between 1950 and 1960, driven by increases in employment among skilled railway workers and their construction of a middle-class family life.58

The trend toward urbanization accompanied and helped precipitate a postwar shift among European empires toward a discourse of development. As part of this shift, forced labor was increasingly disavowed. Several British colonies re-imposed forced labor during World War II, but those programs ceased when the war ended, and the French empire outlawed forced labor in 1946.59 In both the French and British empires, various forms of labor coercion continued even after forced labor’s official abolition.60 Nonetheless, British and French policy after World War II was increasingly marked by the implementation of reforms that envisioned the “stabilization” of formerly migrant workers into a more permanent, well-trained, and well-paid workforce.61 Debates over similar reforms began to unfold in the Portuguese empire, and many officials across the colonial bureaucracy began to adopt reformist positions.62 Perhaps the best known was Henrique Galvão, who issued a 1947 speech in the Portuguese Parliament that condemned the extreme brutalities of forced labor, particularly in Angola.63 Galvão’s report was promptly suppressed by the Portuguese government, but it nonetheless indicated the existence of a counter-current of debates over the role of forced labor among Portuguese colonial officials. Several of the governors-general of the Portuguese colonies, as well as high-ranking colonial inspectors, argued for changes to the forced labor system.64 In Angola, a report by a district governor named Hélio Esteves Felgas sharply condemned forced labor and sparked a major debate over the future of the forced labor policy.65 Even in São Tomé, long the exemplar of forced labor in the Portuguese empire, there were some attempts at changing the methods of conscripting workers, as well as improving working conditions on the cocoa plantations.66

Debates within the Portuguese empire over transitioning away from forced labor were both accompanied and propelled by the hardening international consensus against forced labor. Portuguese policy began to change to reflect that consensus. In 1956, following a great deal of external critique and internal debate, Portugal belatedly ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Forced Labor, originally passed in 1930; while the immediate impact of the ratification was muted, it nonetheless augured larger changes to come.67 In 1959, Portugal ratified the ILO Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labor, which came into effect in the Portuguese colonies on November 23, 1960. The following year, the Portuguese government abolished the Indigenato, or “native code,” which had provided the legal framework for forced labor. At the same time that Portugal was gradually and belatedly changing its official policy on forced labor, works by Western journalists, historians, and anthropologists were highlighting the widespread abuses of forced labor within the Portuguese empire.68 In 1961, Portugal was charged with contravening the ILO Convention on Forced Labor by newly independent Ghana; while the complaint was adjudicated in Portugal’s favor, it nonetheless underscored the shifting international landscape against Portuguese labor policies.69 The continuation of forced labor also posed obvious risks for the stability of the Portuguese empire in an era of decolonization. In 1961, an uprising in Angola against the forced cotton cultivation program sparked a wave of violence by and against Portuguese settlers, shattering the previous assumption of the Portuguese that their empire was largely immune to the pressures of decolonization.70

The official disavowal of forced labor was part of a significant change in the official rhetoric of Portuguese rule. A new generation of reformers, led by Overseas Minister Adriano Moreira, ushered in profound changes to the discursive framework of the Portuguese empire. The colonies were recast as “overseas provinces” of a “pluricontinental” state, and the racialized division between “natives” and Europeans was erased in favor of highlighting the supposed Portuguese propensity toward multiracial harmony as the rationale for continuing Portuguese rule in a rapidly decolonizing world. As part of this shift, forced labor was no longer officially tolerated, and local administrators were given strict instructions to divorce themselves from intervening in the process by which workers entered into employment.

Those changes notwithstanding, many aspects of the old system of labor coercion remained. Although there are fewer studies of forced labor after the 1961 reforms, there is clear evidence that labor coercion persisted until the end of the Portuguese empire. Some administrators continued to promote labor coercion, disregarding the changes to official policy.71 More generally, migrant labor remained widespread, and many migrant workers were coerced into work through the pressure of local “chiefs.” Many large employers continued to depend on a consistent supply of poorly paid and easily exploited migrant workers, whose capacity to leave their jobs or negotiate over the terms of their employment remained sharply limited.72 In Mozambique, for example, the huge sugar plantations of the Buzi Company relied on workers brought from hundreds of miles away, who had little knowledge of where they were going or what they would be doing.73 The enormous construction project to build the Cahora Bassa dam similarly relied on migrant workers with very limited ability to control the terms of their labor.74 White farmers in Chimoio, in central Mozambique, were also dependent on migrant workers throughout the 1960s, a system that one observer called “a type of slavery” in which “workers were sold to farmers as if they were slaves, without the freedom to choose their job, much less the task that they would be performing.”75 The turn toward development and the rejection of forced labor opened important new possibilities for workers in the Portuguese empire. Nonetheless, the dynamics of exploitation and coercion remained an enduring threat to colonial subjects until the final dissolution of the empire.

Discussion of the Literature

Many of the first scholarly accounts of Portuguese colonial rule, written during the 1960s, focused on the historical and contemporary importance of forced labor within the Portuguese colonies. These accounts, written during a time when the Portuguese empire was becoming increasingly anomalous in a largely decolonized Africa, helped cement the association between Portuguese rule and forced labor. Early postcolonial histories produced after the fall of the Portuguese empire in the 1970s and 1980s built on this literature and focused on the role of forced labor in shaping individual experiences under Portuguese colonial rule. These books were mostly local studies of specific regions and time periods that charted both the pervasiveness of forced labor and its deleterious impact on individuals living under colonial rule. Other early studies adopted a more systematic approach, highlighting the centrality of forced labor within the political and economic structures of the Portuguese empire and its importance within colonial processes of economic exploitation and political and social repression.

More recent studies have built on these early works to examine forced labor from different perspectives, including comparisons with older systems of slavery, investigations of the role of local chiefs in imposing forced labor, and analyses of the various methods of control utilized by Portuguese colonial officials within the broader processes of labor coercion. There has also been a wide range of recent works studying how forced labor both shaped and reflected the empire’s relationship with the metropole, including forced labor’s outsized role within Portugal’s conception of its civilizational duties, the ways that forced labor mediated Portugal’s complex relationship with international governing bodies, and the importance of forced labor in catalyzing impulses toward reform within the Portuguese empire.

Histories of forced labor in the Portuguese empire are unevenly distributed. There have been many more studies of Angola and Mozambique, perhaps a result of their comparative economic importance in the Portuguese empire, which elevated them to greater prominence within the colonial bureaucracy and generated greater representation in the archival sources used by historians. The same dynamic has generated significant regional differences within Angola and Mozambique: northern Mozambique, for example, has been the subject of considerably fewer histories than southern and central Mozambique. There have also been fewer recent histories of Angola, owing to the disruption of the Angolan civil war. The history of forced labor in São Tomé during the late 19th and early 20th centuries has received a great deal of attention, but there is less scholarship on the latter decades of colonial rule. Little has been written on the history of forced labor in either Guinea or Cabo Verde, with the partial exception of migrant labor from Cabo Verde to São Tomé. In addition to the scholarly gaps internal to the Portuguese empire, there have been few comparative works that juxtapose labor coercion in Portuguese colonies with related forms of labor coercion in other European empires; as a result, the widespread assumption that Portuguese labor coercion was exceptional in both its scope and its brutality has not always been carefully interrogated.

One question that warrants further investigation concerns the history of forced labor in the Portuguese empire following its abolition in 1961. While there are a number of contemporaneous accounts of forced labor during this era written by journalists and anthropologists, historians have yet to produce many studies of this time period. Another topic that has not been thoroughly researched is the ways in which colonial practices of forced labor helped shape the dynamics of repression and control in the former Portuguese colonies after independence. There have been some very insightful studies of the coercive practices of postcolonial governments, particularly during the civil wars that consumed Mozambique and Angola; these practices often resembled—and sometimes directly reproduced—policies instituted under colonial rule.76 Future research will undoubtedly do much to further our understanding of the reverberations of forced labor policy after independence and into the present day.

Primary Sources

While numerous archival collections discuss the importance of forced labor in the Portuguese empire, there is no singular collection that provides a complete overview. Key archives include the Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique in Maputo; the Arquivo Histórico Nacional de Angola in Luanda; and the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, the Arquivo Histórico Diplomatico, and the Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo in Lisbon. Some holdings of the Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo have been digitized and can be accessed on the archive’s website. The archives of various protestant missionary groups also discuss forced labor, particularly in Angola. The investigations of Henry Nevinson, Edward Ross, and Basil Davidson into forced labor in São Tomé, Angola, and Mozambique all offer valuable contemporaneous accounts of forced labor in the Portuguese empire from the 1900s, the 1920s, and the 1950s. Nevinson’s book is available online through HathiTrust, while Ross’s report is available online at the Internet Archive.

Further Reading

  • Allina, Eric. Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Central Mozambique. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.
  • Ball, Jeremy. Angola’s Colossal Lie: Forced Labor on a Sugar Plantation, 1913–1977. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015.
  • Cahen, Michel. “Seis teses sobre o trabalho forçado no império português continental em África.” África 35 (2015): 129–155.
  • Chilundo, Arlindo. Os camponeses e os caminhos-de-ferro e estradas em Nampula (1900–1961). Maputo, Mozambique: Promedia, 2001.
  • Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012.
  • Isaacman, Allen. Cotton Is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938–1961. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996.
  • Kagan Guthrie, Zachary. Bound for Work: Labor, Mobility and Colonial Rule in Central Mozambique. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018.
  • Keese, Alexander. “‘Proteger os pretos’: Havia uma mentalidade reformista na administração portuguesa na África tropical (1926–1961)?” Africana Studia 6 (2003): 97–125.
  • Monteiro, José Pedro. Portugal e a questão do trabalho forçado: um império sob escrutínio (1944–1962). Lisbon, Portugal: Edições 70, 2018.
  • Nascimento, Augusto. “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato em São Tomé e Príncipe nos séculos XIX–XX: Sujeição e ética laboral.” Africana Studia 7 (2004): 183–217.
  • Neto, Maria da Conceição. “De Escravos a ‘Serviçais,’ de ‘Serviçais’ a Contratados’: Omissões, percepções e equívocos na história do trabalho africano na Angola colonial.” Cadernos de Estudos Africanos 33 (2017): 107–129.
  • Neves, Joel das. “Economy, Society and Labour Migration in Central Mozambique, 1930–c. 1965: A Case Study of Manica Province.” PhD diss., University of London, 1998.
  • O’Laughlin, Bridget. “Proletarianisation, Agency, and Changing Rural Livelihoods: Forced Labour and Resistance in Colonial Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 28, no. 3 (2002): 511–530.
  • Penvenne, Jeanne. African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877–1962. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995.
  • Vail, Leroy, and Landeg White. Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique: A Study of Quelimane District. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980.
  • Zamparoni, Valdemir. De escravo a cozinheiro: colonialismo e racismo em Moçambique. Salvador, Brazil: EDUFBA, 2007.


  • 1. J. M. da Silva Cunha, O trabalho indígena: Estudo de direito colonial (Lisbon: Agência Geral das Colónias, 1956), 146–148; and Margarida Seixas, “O trabalho escravo e o trabalho forçado na colonização portuguesa oitocentista: Uma análise histórico-jurídica,” Revista Portuguesa de História 46 (2015): 217–236.

  • 2. Seixas, “O trabalho escravo e o trabalho forçado,” 232–233; Maria da Conceição Neto, “A República no seu estado colonial: Combater a escravatura, estabelecer o ‘indigenato,’” Ler História 59 (2010): 205–225; and Augusto Nascimento, “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato em São Tomé e Príncipe nos séculos XIX–XX: Sujeição e ética laboral,” Africana Studia 7 (2004): 183–217.

  • 3. Linda Heywood, “Slavery and Forced Labor in the Changing Political Economy of Central Angola, 1850–1949,” in The End of Slavery in Africa, ed. Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 420. See also Maria da Conceição Neto, “De Escravos a ‘Serviçais,’ de ‘Serviçais’ a Contratados’: Omissões, percepções e equívocos na história do trabalho africano na Angola colonial,” Cadernos de Estudos Africanos 33 (2017): 107–129.

  • 4. Nascimento, “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato”; Catherine Higgs, Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press), 2012, chaps. 1, 4, and 5; Heywood, “Slavery and Forced Labor,” 421.

  • 5. Eric Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Central Mozambique (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012); Eric Allina,“Para compreender a ‘Esravidão Moderna’: Vozes dos arquivos,” Africana Studia 33 (2017): 131–155; Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, “Political Changes and Shifts in labour Relations in Mozambique, 1820s–1920s,” International Review of Social History 61 (2016): 115–135; and Paulo Cesar Gonçalves, “Na vaga do trabalho escravo: O tráfico de trabalhadores engajados de Moçambique para a Ilha Reunião no pós-abolição da escravidão colonial francesa,” Topoi 20, no. 42 (2019): 578–603.

  • 6. Seixas, “O trabalho escravo e o trabalho forçado,” 231–232.

  • 7. Valdemir Zamparoni, “Da escravatura ao trabalho forçado: Teorias e práticas,” Africana Studia 7 (2004): 299–325; and Michel Cahen, “Seis teses sobre o trabalho forçado no império português continental em África,” África (São Paulo) 35 (2015): 129–155. Cahen argues that forced labor should be seen as a rupture from, rather than a continuation of, preexisting forms of labor coercion under slavery, a rupture produced by capitalist expansion under colonial rule.

  • 8. António Enes, Moçambique: Relátorio apresentado ao govêrno (Lisbon: Agência Geral das Colónias, 1956 [1893]), 75.

  • 9. Seixas, “O trabalho escravo e o trabalho forçado.”

  • 10. Valdemir Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro: Colonialismo e racismo em Moçambique (Salvador, Brazil: EDUFBA, 2007), chap. 4; Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, 91–104; and Leroy Vail and Landeg White, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique: A Case Study of Quelimane District (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), 166–183.

  • 11. Jeanne Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877–1962 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994), chap. 3.

  • 12. Fernanda Nascimento Thomaz, “Disciplinar o ‘indígena’ com pena de trabalho: Políticas coloniais portuguesas em Moçambique,” Estudos Históricos 25, no. 50 (2012): 313–330.

  • 13. Jelmer Vos, “Império, Patronato e uma Revolta no Reino do Kongo,” Cadernos de Estudos Africanos 33 (2017): 157–182; and Jelmer Vos, Kongo in the Age of Empire, 1860–1913: The Breakdown of a Moral Order (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2017), chap. 5.

  • 14. Heywood, “Slavery and Forced Labor,” 425–428.

  • 15. This was particularly widespread in the British settler colonies in southern Africa: see David Johnson, “Settler Farmers and Coerced African Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1936–1946,” Journal of African History 33, no. 1 (1992): 111–128; David Duncan, “Farm, Labor and the South African State, 1924–1948,” in White Farms, Black Labor: The State and Agrarian Change in South Africa, 1910–1950, ed. Alan Jeeves and Jonathan Crush (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997); Helen Bradford, “Getting Away with Murder: ‘Mealie Kings,’ the State and Foreigners in the Eastern Transvaal, c. 1918–1950,” in Apartheid’s Genesis 1935–1962, ed. Philip Bonner, Peter Delius, and Deborah Posel (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1993); and Ivan Evans, Bureaucracy and Race: Native Administration in South Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), chap. 3. See also Opolot Okia, Communal Labor in Colonial Kenya: The Legitimization of Coercion, 1912–1930 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

  • 16. Central Mozambique was ruled by a sovereign company, the Mozambique Company, until 1942, although the company used similar methods of labor conscription as elsewhere in the Portuguese empire. For more on the settler farmers, see Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, 36–40; and Joel Maurício das Neves, “Economy, Society, and Labour Migration in Central Mozambique, 1930–c.1965: A Case Study of Manica Province,” (PhD diss., University of London, 1998), chap. 3.

  • 17. Vail and White, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique; Jeremy Ball, Angola’s Colossal Lie: Forced Labor on a Sugar Plantation, 1913–1977 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015). For comparative examples, see Alexander Keese, “Equilíbrios no Terror: Trabalho forçado, fuga e continuidades clandestinas no Congo-Brazzaville, 1918–1968,” Cadernos de Estudos Africanos 33 (2017): 183–206; Babacar Fall, Travail forcé en Afrique-Occidental française, 1900–1946 (Paris: Karthala, 1993); Babacar Fall, Social History in French West Africa: Forced Labour, Labour Market, Women and Politics (Calcutta: SEPHIS, 2002); Maurice Archer, “Travail force et processus de mobilization de la main deõeuvre em Côte d’Ivoire,” in Trabalho forçado africano: Experiências coloniais comparadas (Porto, Portugal: CEAUP, 2006), 259–272; and Okia, Communal Labor in Colonial Kenya.

  • 18. Philip Havik, “Estradas sem fim: O trabalho forçado e a ‘politica indígena’ em Guiné (1915–1945),” in Archer, Trabalho forçado africano, 229–247; Arlindo Chilundo, Os camponeses e os caminhos de ferro e estradas em Nampula (1900–1961) (Maputo, Mozambique: Promédia, 2001). For comparative studies, see Kwabena Akurang-Parry, “Colonial Forced Labor Policies for Road-Building in Southern Ghana and International Anti-Forced Labor Pressures, 1900–1940,” African Economic History 28 (2000): 1–25; Enrique Martino, “Panya: Economies of Deception and the Discontinuities of Indentured Labour Recruitment and the Slave Trade, Nigeria and Fernando Pó, 1890s–1940s,” African Economic History 44 (2016): 91–129; Alice Weimers, “‘It Is All He can Do to Cope with the Roads in His Own District’: Labor, Community, and Development in Northern Ghana, 1919–1936,” International Labor and Working-Class History 92 (2017): 89–113; Romain Tiquet, “Challenging Colonial Forced Labor? Resistance, Resilience, and Power in Senegal (1920s–1940s),” International Journal of Labor and Working Class History 93 (2018): 135–150; and Sarah Kunkel, “Forced Labour, Roads, and Chiefs: The Implementation of the ILO Forced Labour Convention in the Gold Coast,” International Review of Social History 63, no. 3 (2018): 449–476.

  • 19. This argument is made by Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name; Zamparoni, “Da escravatura ao trabalho forçado”; and Neto, “De Escravos a ‘Serviçais,’” among others.

  • 20. Catherine Higgs, “Happiness and Work: Portuguese Peasants, British Laborers, African Contract Workers, and the Case of São Tomé and Príncipe, 1901–1909,” International Labor and Working Class History 86 (2014): 55–71.

  • 21. Nascimento, “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato.”

  • 22. Henry Nevinson, A Modern Slavery (New York: Harper, 1906). For an overview, see Higgs, Chocolate Islands, as well as Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, The “Civilising Mission” of Portuguese Colonialism, 1870–1930 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), chap. 2.

  • 23. W. G. Clarence-Smith, “Cocoa Plantations and Coerced Labor in the Gulf of Guinea, 1870–1914,” in Breaking the Chains: Slavery, Bondage and Emancipation in Modern Africa and Asia, ed. Martin Klein (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), 150–171; and Martino, “Panya.”

  • 24. Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, “The ‘Civilization Guild’: Race and Labour in the Third Portuguese Empire, c. 1870–1930,” in Racism and Ethnic Relations in the Portuguese Speaking World, ed. Francisco Bethencourt and Adrian Pearce (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); for a broader introduction to the Portuguese civilizing mission, see Jerónimo, Civilizing Mission.

  • 25. Enes, Moçambique, 75.

  • 26. Land alienation played a more important role in southern Mozambique, where white settlement was more widespread. See Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro, 77–112.

  • 27. The most famous example of this phenomenon is the massive migration of Mozambican workers, mostly from southern Mozambique, to the gold mines on the Witwatersrand. For a social-historical analysis of this phenomenon, see Ruth First, Black Gold: The Mozambican Miner, Proletarian, and Peasant (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983); for an account grounded in cultural history, see Patrick Harries, Work, Culture, and Identity: Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1860–1910 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994).

  • 28. Alexander Keese, “Why Stay? Forced Labor, the Correia Report, and Portuguese–South African Competition at the Angola-Namibia Border,” History in Africa 42 (2015): 75–108; Alexander Keese, “Developmentalist Attitudes and Old Habits: Portuguese Labour Policies, South African Rivalry, and Flight in Southern Angola, 1945–1974,” Journal of Southern African Studies 41, no. 2 (2015): 237–253; Neves, “Economy, Society, and Labour Migration”; Zachary Kagan Guthrie, Bound for Work: Labor, Mobility, and the Colonial State in Central Mozambique, 1940–1965 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017), chap. 5; and Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, chap. 4.

  • 29. See particularly Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro, chap. 2, as well as Mário Moutinho, O indígena no pensamento colonial português: 1895–1961 (Lisbon: Ediçoes Universitárias Lusófonas, 2000).

  • 30. Enes, Moçambique, 72.

  • 31. Quoted in Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro, 54–55.

  • 32. José Tristão de Bettencourt, Relatório do Governador Geral de Moçambique, Respeitante ao periodo de 29 de Março de 1940 à 31 de Dezembro de 1942 (Lisbon: Agência Geral das Colónias, 1945), 79–86.

  • 33. Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique, Fundo ISANI, Caixa 39, Inspection to Sofala District, 1943–4.

  • 34. Neto, “A República no seu estado colonial”; and Jeremy Ball, “Colonial Labor in Twentieth Century Angola,” History Compass 3 (2005): 1–9.

  • 35. Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism; Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro; Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name; and Vail and White, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique.

  • 36. Nascimento, “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato.”

  • 37. Edward Ross, Report on Employment of Native Labor in Portuguese Africa (New York: Abbott Press, 1925). For a recent overview, see Jerónimo, Civilising Mission, chap. 5.

  • 38. Diário de Governo (Mozambique), Serie I, No. 156, Decreto 18:570, 29 May 1930.

  • 39. Silva Cunha, Trabalho indígena, 208–209.

  • 40. Judith Head, “State, Capital and Migrant Labour in Zambézia, Mozambique: A Study of the Labour Force of Sena Sugar Estates Limited,” (PhD diss., Durham University, 1980), chap. 3; Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, chap. 3; and Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism, chap. 5.

  • 41. Nascimento, “Escravatura, trabalho forçado e contrato,” 195–196.

  • 42. Vail and White, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique, chaps. 7 and 8.

  • 43. Ball, Angola’s Colossal Lie, chap. 3.

  • 44. Neves, “Economy, Society and Labour Migration,” chap. 3.

  • 45. Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism, chap. 9.

  • 46. Linda Heywood, “The Growth and Decline of African Agriculture in Central Angola, 1890–1950,” Journal of Southern African Studies 13, no. 1 (1987): 355–371; Maria da Conceição Neto, “In Town and Out of Town: A Social History of Huambo (Angola), 1902–1961,” (PhD diss., University of London, 2012), 166–176, 246–256; and Alexander Keese, “Searching for the Reluctant Hands: Obsession, Ambivalence, and the Practice of Organising Involuntary Labour in Colonial Cuanza-Sul and Malange Districts, Angola, 1926–1945,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 41, no. 2 (2013): 238–258.

  • 47. Alexander Keese, “Early Limits of Local Decolonization in São Tomé and Príncipe: From Colonial Abuses to Postcolonial Disappointment, 1945–1976,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 44, no. 3 (2011): 373–392.

  • 48. Augusto Nascimento, Desterro e contrato: Moçambicanos a caminho de São Tomé e Príncipe (anos 1940–1960) (Maputo, Mozambique: Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique, 2002); and Zachary Kagan Guthrie, “Repression and Migration: Forced Labour Exile of Mozambicans to São Tomé, 1948–1955,” Journal of Southern African Studies 37, no. 3 (2011): 449–462.

  • 49. For an overview, see Allen Isaacman, Cotton Is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work, and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938–1961 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995).

  • 50. For critiques of the male-centered focus of labor studies, see Jeanne Penvenne, Women, Migration and the Cashew Economy in Southern Mozambique, 1945–1975 (Rochester, NY: James Curry, 2015); and Bridget O’Laughlin, “Proletarianisation, Agency and Changing Rural Livelihoods: Forced Labour and Resistance in Colonial Mozambique,” Journal of Southern African Studies 28, no. 3 (2002): 511–530, especially 524–526. See also Marie Rodet, Les migrantes ignoreés du Haut-Senegal: 1900–1946 (Paris: Karthala, 2009).

  • 51. For an overview, see Kathleen Sheldon, Pounders of Grain: A History of Women, Work, and Politics in Mozambique (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002).

  • 52. Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, 131–138; Guthrie, Bound for Work, 79–81; and Zamparoni, De escravo a cozinheiro, 77–78.

  • 53. Guthrie, Bound for Work, chap. 3.

  • 54. For more on the importance of migration, see Guthrie, Bound for Work, as well as Todd Cleveland, Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015), chap. 3; and Allina, Slavery by Any Other Name, chap. 4.

  • 55. Penvenne, Women, Migration, and the Cashew Economy; Jeanne Marie Penvenne, “Seeking the Factory for Women: Mozambican Urbanization in the Late Colonial Era,” Journal of Urban History 23, no. 3 (1997): 342–379. From an earlier era, see Matheus Serve Pereira, “Entre a ‘escola de vício’ e o ‘mundo temperado de ritmo e poesia’: Experiências de mulheres trabalhadores indígenas em Lourenço Marques (1900–1940), Cadernos Pagu 49 (2017); more broadly, see David Morton, Age of Concrete: Housing and the Shape of Aspiration in the Capital of Mozambique (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2019).

  • 56. Lilly Havstad, “‘To Live a Better Life’: The Making of a Mozambican Middle Class,” (PhD diss., Boston University, 2019).

  • 57. Cleveland, Diamonds in the Rough, chap. 5.

  • 58. Neto, “In Town and Out of Town,” chaps. 4 and 5; the population figure is from p. 240.

  • 59. Johnson, “Settler Farmers and Coerced African Labour in Southern Rhodesia”; Kenneth Vickery, “The Second World War Revival of Forced Labor in the Rhodesias,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 22 (1989): 423–437; Alexander Keese, Living with Ambiguity: Integrating an African Elite in French and Portuguese Africa, 1930–1961 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006); and Fall, Travail forcé en Afrique-Occidental française.

  • 60. Alexander Keese, “Slow Abolition within the Colonial Mind: British and French Debates about ‘Vagrancy,’ ‘African Laziness,’ and Forced Labour in West Central and South Central Africa, 1945–1965,” International Review of Social History 59 (2014): 377–407; Alice Weimers, “‘When the Chief Takes an Interest’: Development and the Reinvention of ‘Communal’ Labor in Northern Ghana, 1935–1960,” Journal of African History 58, no. 2 (2017): 239–257; Elisabeth MacMahon, “Developing Workers: Coerced and ‘Voluntary’ Labor in Zanzibar, 1909–1970,” International Journal of Labor and Working Class History 92 (2017): 114–133; Benedetta Rossi, “From Unfree Work to Working for Free: Labor, Aid, and Gender in the Nigerien Sahel, 1930–2000,” International Journal of Labor and Working Class History 92 (2017): 155–182; and Opolot Okia, Labor in Colonial Kenya after the Forced Labor Convention, 1930–1963 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

  • 61. The classic account is Frederick Cooper, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  • 62. Keese, Living with Ambiguity; Alexander Keese, “‘Proteger os pretos’: Havia uma mentalidade reformista na administração portuguesa na África tropical (1926–1961)?” Africana Studia 6 (2003): 97–125; and José Pedro Monteiro, Portugal e a questão do trabalho forçado: Um império sob escrutínio (1944–1962) (Lisbon: Ediçoes 70, 2018).

  • 63. A portion of the speech is in Henrique Galvão, Santa Maria: My Crusade for Portugal (Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Company, 1961); see also Douglas Wheeler, “The Galvão Report on Forced Labor (1947) in Context and Perspective: The Trouble-Shooter Who Was ‘Trouble,’” Portuguese Studies Review 16, no. 1 (2008): 115–152.

  • 64. Keese, “Proteger os Pretos.”

  • 65. Carla Susana Alem Abrantes and Marina Berthet, “A gestão do trabalho indígena frente à resistência política em Angola, 1950,” Revista de Ciências Sociais 46, no. 2 (2015): 117–140; Alexander Keese, “The Constraints of Late Colonial Reform Policy: Forced Labour Scandals in the Portuguese Congo (Angola) and the Limits of Reform under Authoritarian Colonial Rule, 1955–1961,” Portuguese Studies 28, no. 2 (2012): 186–200; and Monteiro, Portugal e a questão do trabalho forçado, chap. 7.

  • 66. Keese, “Early Limits of Local Decolonization in São Tomé and Príncipe”; and Alexander Keese, “Forced Labor in the Gorgulho Years: Understanding Reform and Repression in Rural São Tomé e Príncipe, 1945–1953,” Itinerario 38, no. 1 (2014): 103–124.

  • 67. Monteiro, Portugal e a questão do trabalho forçado, chap. 5.

  • 68. Key examples included Basil Davidson, The African Awakening (London: Cape, 1955); Marvin Harris, “Portugal’s African Wards: A Firsthand Report on Labor and Education in Mozambique,” Africa Today 5 (1958): 6–36; James Duffy, A Question of Slavery (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967); and Perry Anderson, “Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism, Parts 1-3.” New Left Review 15 (1962): 83–102; 16 (1962): 88–123; 17 (1962): 85–114.

  • 69. Monteiro, Portugal e a questão do trabalho forçado, chaps. 8 and 9.

  • 70. Aida Freudenthal, “A Baixa de Cassanje: Algodão e revolta,” Revista Internacional de Estudos Africanos 18 (1995), 245–283; Diogo Ramada Curto, Políticas coloniais em tempos de revolta—Angola 1961 (Porto: Afrontamento, 2016), chap. 4; and Keese, “Dos abusos às revoltas? Trabalho forçado, reformas portuguesas, política ‘tradicional’ e religião na baixa de Cassange e no distrito do Congo (Angola), 1957–1961,” Africana Studia 7 (2004): 247–276.

  • 71. Zachary Kagan Guthrie, “This Was Being Done Only to Help’: Development and Forced Labor in Barue, Mozambique, 1959–1965,” International Journal of Labor and Working Class History 92 (2017): 134–154; and Vail and White, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique, 386–388.

  • 72. Guthrie, Bound for Work, chap. 6.

  • 73. José Claudio Mandlate, “A Companhia do Buzi em transição: Uma abordagem sobre as transformações no recrutamento de mão de obra e na estrutura de produção agrícola da empresa, 1961–1991,” (Bachelor’s diss., Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, 2004), 12–22. See also Ball, Angola’s Colossal Lie, chap. 4.

  • 74. Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman, Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013), 73–77.

  • 75. Alves Gomes, “Entre Vila Pery e Lourenço Marques: Jornalismo e Revolução,” in Mafalala 1974: Memôrias do 7 de Setembro, a grande operação (Maputo, Mozambique: Movimento, 2015), 126–128.

  • 76. João Paulo Borges Coelho, “Protected Villages and Communal Villages in the Mozambican Province of Tete (1968–1982): A History of State Resettlement Policies, Development, and War,” (PhD diss., University of Bradford, 1993); Omar Ribeiro Thomaz, “‘Escravos sem dono’: A experiência social dos campos de trabalho em Moçambique no período socialista,” Revista de Antrpologia 51, no. 1 (2008): 177–214; Benedito Machava, “State Discourse on Internal Security and the Politics of Punishment in Post-Independence Mozambique (1975–1983),” Journal of Southern African Studies 37, no. 3 (2011): 593–609; Benedito Machava, “Reeducation Camps, Austerity, and the Carceral Regime in Socialist Mozambique (1974–79),” Journal of African History 60, no. 3 (2019): 429–455; Marlino Mubai, “Making War on Village and Forest: Southern Mozambique during the Sixteen-Year Conflict, 1976–1992,” (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 2015); Carlos Quembo, O Poder do Poder: Operação Produção e a invenção dos ‘improdutivos’ urbanos no Moçambique socialista, 1983–1988 (Maputo, Mozambique: Alcance, 2017); and Eric Morier-Genoud, Michel Cahen, and Domingos do Rosário, eds., The War Within: New Perspectives on the Civil War in Mozambique, 1976–1992 (Rochester, NY: James Currey, 2018).