Forced labour in European colonies

Construction d'une voie ferrée au Dahomey vers 1900. Photo : Roger Viollet 


Forms of forced labour existed during the sixteenth century in Spanish America. However, it was during the modern period—after the abolition of slavery, and after or concurrent with indentured labour—that forced labour was systematically used in European colonies, either for the benefit of the colonists (in Java beginning in 1830), major concessionary companies (the Belgian Congo and the French Congo), or the “development” of colonies by the colonial state (in particular the AOF, l’Afrique-Occidentale française).