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The Carceral Archipelago: transnational circulations in global perspective, 1415-1960 (CArchipelago)
Start date: Mar 1, 2013, End date: Feb 28, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project centres ‘the carceral archipelago’ in the history of the making of the modern world. It analyses the relationships and circulations between and across convict transportation, penal colonies and labour, migration, coercion and confinement. It incorporates all the global powers engaged in transportation for the purpose of expansion and colonization - Europe, Russia, Latin America, China, Japan – over the period from Portugal’s first use of convicts in North Africa in 1415 to the dissolution of Stalin’s gulags in 1960. It uses an innovative theoretical base to shift convict transportation out of the history of crime and punishment into the new questions being raised by global and postcolonial history.The project maps for the first time global networks of transportation and penal colonies. It undertakes case study archival research on relatively unexplored convict flows, and on the mobility of ideas and practices around transportation and other modes of confinement. It analyses its findings within the broader literature, including on transportation but also debates around the definition of freedom/ unfreedom, the importance of circulating labour, and global divergence and convergence. It redefines what we mean by ‘transportation,’ explores penal transportation as an engine of global change, de-centres Europe in historical analysis, and defines long-term impacts on economy, society and identity. It places special stress on investigating whether a transnational approach to the topic gives us a fresh theoretical starting point for studying global history that moves beyond ‘nation’ or ‘empire.’The project lies at the intersections of national, colonial and global history, and economic, social and cultural history. It will be of wide interest to scholars of labour, migration, punishment and confinement; comparative and global history; diaspora, creolization and cultural translation; and museum and heritage studies.

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