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Torres Strait in the Moluccas: The transformation of pearling in the residency of Ambon, Netherlands Indies, 1890s–1942
chapterposted on 28.05.2020, 00:00 by Stephen Mullins
This chapter describes the expansion of Australian industrial pearling to the Aru Islands, the location of the most productive grounds in the Netherlands Indies. It focuses on the determined incursions of 1893–94 and the 1905 relocation of Australia’s largest pearling syndicate from Thursday Island to Dobo. It explores how the arrival of Australian fleets altered the regulation and management of pearling in the Residency of Ambon, assesses its influence on the day-to-day working arrangements of regional and indigenous pearling, and reflects on how it changed local and regional power relations against a backdrop of shifts in the larger framework of Netherlands Indies policy. It also identifies commonalities and contrasts that bring into sharper focus issues that affected the management of pearling in Torres Strait, the northwest of Western Australia, and other pearling regions of the Indian Ocean World.