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Title: The politics of convict space : Indian penal settlements and the Andaman Islands
Other Titles: The politics of convict space : Indian penal settlements in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Islands
Authors: Anderson, Clare
First Published: 1-Jan-2003
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
Citation: Anderson, C, The politics of convict space : Indian penal settlements and the Andaman Islands, ed. Bashford, A; Strange, C, 'Isolation : places and practices of exclusion', Routledge, 2003, pp. 40-55
Abstract: From the late eighteenth century, as the British made incursions into India, they established a series of penal settlements for the reception of South Asian convicts. Bencoolen was the first destination, from 1773. It was later joined and eventually replaced during the first half of the nineteenth century by convict settlements in Prince of Wales’ Island (Penang), Singapore, Malacca, the Tenasserim and Martaban Provinces (Burma), Mauritius and Aden. In the wake of the 1857 Uprising, the British further settled the Andaman Islands as a penal colony... This chapter seeks to analyse the contradictions between convicts’ perceptions of and colonial discourses on the kala pani. Convicts themselves did not always view the prospect of their exclusion and isolation in the same way. Throughout the nineteenth century, it became increasingly clear that transportation was not the focus of terror in the way administrators had hoped for. Colonial representations of the power of the kala pani eventually had to acknowledge convicts’ differing views and desires about the punishment, in relation to caste. By the 1890s, the realisation of the breach between the discourse and practice of the punishment led penologists in the Andamans to take radical measures to make transportation the deterrent they believed that it no longer was: the construction of a Cellular Jail at Port Blair. The chapter will then go on to show how this space of secondary confinement was later used to incarcerate political agitators. Subsequently, since independence, the Jail has been transformed into a symbolic anti-colonial national site. Paradoxically, the resurrection of the discourse of kala pani has been central to this, the creation of the Andaman Islands more generally as a space of anti-colonial struggle.
ISBN: 0415309808
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Chapter
Rights: Copyright © 2003, Routledge (Taylor & Francis). Archived with permission of the publisher.
Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, School of Historical Studies

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