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Title: Convicts, Commodities, and Connections in British Asia and the Indian Ocean, 1789-1866
Authors: Anderson, Clare
First Published: 26-Mar-2019
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP) for Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis
Citation: International Review of Social History, 2019, 64, Special Issue S27 (Free and Unfree Labor in Atlantic and Indian Ocean Port Cities (1700–1850)), pp. 205-227
Abstract: This article explores the transportation of Indian convicts to the port cities of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean during the period 1789 to 1866. It considers the relationship between East India Company transportation and earlier and concurrent British Crown transportation to the Americas and Australia. It is concerned in particular with the interconnection between convictism and enslavement in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. Examining the roots of transportation in South Asia in the repressive policies of the East India Company, especially in relation to its occupation of land and expropriation of resources, it moves on to discuss aspects of convicts’ lives in Moulmein, Singapore, Mauritius and Aden. This includes their labor regime and their relationship to other workers. The argument is that Indian convict transportation was part of a carceral circuit of repression and coerced labor extraction that was intertwined with the expansion of East India Company governance and trade. The Company used transportation as a means of removing resistant subjects from their homes, and of supplying an unfree labor force to develop commodity exports and build the infrastructure necessary for the establishment, population and connection of littoral nodes. However, the close confinement and association of convicts during transportation rendered the punishment a vector for the development of transregional political solidarities, centered in and around the Company’s port cities.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0020859019000129
eISSN: 1469-512X
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2019, Cambridge University Press (CUP) for Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of History of Art and Film

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