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Ghanaian railwaymen at work in the town of Sekondi. A key aim of the project will be to investigate how the colonial authorities sought to maintain labour discipline among key strategic workers, such as railwaymen, dock workers, and planation labourers.

Research projects

ESRC Future Research Leaders Award

Dr Gareth Curless has been awarded a three year ESRC Future Research Leaders grant (2013–16). Using Malaya, British Guiana, and the Gold Coast as case studies, this project will examine the imperial authorities' response to the labour protests that swept through the British Empire during the era of decolonisation. Specifically, the project will investigate how Cold War security imperatives, together with anxieties about rising anti-colonial nationalism and imperial decline, shaped colonial labour policy. Here the study will explore issues such as the regulation and monitoring of trade union activities, the deployment of security resources to protect strategic industries and essential economic infrastructure, and the policing of industrial disputes and workplace protests.

The project will complement the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society’s research on colonial state violence and in particular it will benefit from Professor Martin Thomas’s recent research on police intervention during colonial labour disputes in the Depression era. As part of the project, Professor Martin Thomas and Dr Curless are organising a workshop on colonial counterinsurgency, which is scheduled for 18th and 19th September 2014.

More information about the workshop can be found on the Centre workshops and seminars page.