Convict labour

The venue of the first ELHN Conference, Turin

Convicts and other (“free” and “unfree”) workers. Views from the First ELHN Conference

How can we frame convict labour in the broader context of entangled labour relations? This is one of the key-questions in the Carceral Archipelago project, which seeks to understand how (especially transported) convicts interacted with other workers within and across empires. Some important suggestions for addressing this question emerged during the first European Labour History […]

The Carceral Archipelago Conference, Leicester 13-16 September 2015

The Carceral Archipelago Conference, Leicester 13-16 September 2015

The Carceral Archipelago conference, held in Leicester from 13 to 16 September 2015, felt just like reading over thirty outstanding monographs in two-and-a-half days, getting to know their authors personally, and having the chance to reflect collectively about their mutual entanglements. It was an intense marathon through the burgeoning field of the global history of […]

Sounds in the silence of political exile

Sounds in the silence of political exile

My recent discovery of Alexander Sochaczewski’s painting, Farewell to Europe!, in the Museum Pawilon-X in Warsaw compelled me to think anew about the experience of political exile and about the innate “wordlessness” that the state intended it to symbolize.  Although Sochaczewski never sold a single painting during his life, today his work is viewed by thousands of visitors who […]

The Archivo General de Indias, Seville

On multi-sited research and mono-sited (nationalist) memory

Addressing convict transportation –the key feature in the Carceral Archipelago project – implies multi-sited research, that is, research in archives located in different places (and countries/continents). Indeed, as convicts were transported from site to site within and beyond the borders of empires and nation-states, they left traces in official records presently held in repositories across […]

Comparisons and Connections (part 1)

Comparisons and Connections (part 1)

In her last blog (, Clare Anderson points to the challenges the Carceral Archipelago Project faces in writing the history of punishment as global history. Indeed, addressing the singularity of each site and connection of convict transportation and proposing broader interpretations is a complex task, which requires a high degree of self-reflexivity regarding our methodological […]

Figure 1:  View of Changuu Island from the air

Zanzibar’s Prison Island: The Prison That Never Was, by Sarah Longair

My initial research on peculiar history of Zanzibar’s so-called Prison Island as part of the Carceral Archipelago project began last year delving into the records in the National Archives and the British Library. Relying on Foreign Office correspondence, I was able to piece together some of the original documents of the construction of prison buildings […]

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