blackbirding

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From blackbird +‎ -ing, suggestedly from the putative slang blackbird (indigenous Pacific islander).

Noun[edit]

blackbirding (uncountable)

  1. (UK, Australia) The practice of kidnapping Pacific Islanders, or kanakas, for sale as cheap labour.
    • 1995, John Gunn, Taking Risks, QBE 1886-1994: A History of the QBE Insurance Group, page 9,
      Burns Philp was to incur public odium in the most notorious case in Queensland concerning blackbirding.
    • 2004, Lawrence McCane, Marist Brothers, Melanesian stories: Marist Brothers in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea 1845-2003, page 120,
      Douglas Oliver, in Black Islanders, tells the story of a blackbirding party which, in 1871, captured a group of eighty-five unsuspecting Bougainvilleans who had taken their twenty-man canoes to the blackbirding ship out of curiosity or a desire to trade.
    • 2008, Andrew David Grainger, The Browning of the All Blacks: Pacific Peoples, Rugby, and the Cultural Politics of Identity in New Zealand, page 326,
      Blackbirding was the euphemism given to the slave-trading that occurred in the Pacific from the mid-1800s through to the early-1900s. According to one study, blackbirding, [as] “the practice of luring Melanesians and Polynesians to toil for next to nothing was called”, involved upwards of 60,000 people between 1863 and 1904 (Horne, 2007, p. 2).

Related terms[edit]