Global Convict Labour


Global Convict Labour offers a global history of convict labour across many of the regimes of punishment that have appeared from Antiquity to the present, including transportation, prisons, workhouses and labour camps. The editors' essay surveys the available literature, and sets the theoretical basis to approach the issue. The fifteen chapters explore the genealogies of convict labour and its relationships with coloniality and governmentality.

The volume re-establishes convict labour firmly within labour history, as one of the entangled, multiple labour relations that have punctuated human history. Similarly, it places convictism back within migration history at large, bridging the gap between the growing literature on convict transportation and research on slavery and other forms of free and bonded migration.

Contributors are: Carlos Aguirre, David Arnold, Marc Buggeln, Timothy Coates, Christian G. De Vito, Mary Gibson, Miriam J. Groen-Vallinga, Stacey Hynd, Padraic Kenney, Alex Lichtenstein, Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Alice Rio, Ricardo D. Salvatore, Jean-Lucien Sanchez, Pieter Spierenburg, Stephan Steiner, Laurens E. Tacoma, Heather Ann Thompson, Lynne Viola.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Christian G. De Vito, Ph.D. (2008), University of Leicester, is Research Associate at that university, and Honorary Fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. He has published articles and monographs on prison-, labour-, and global history.

Alex Lichtenstein, Ph.D. (1990, University of Pennsylvania), is Associate Professor at Indiana University. A historian of labour and race relations in the U.S. South, he has more recently turned his attention to the history of South Africa under apartheid.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Contributors

Editors’ preface
Christian G. De Vito and Alex Lichtenstein

Writing a global history of convict labour
Christian G. De Vito and Alex Lichtenstein


Contextualising condemnation to hard labour in the Roman empire
Miriam J. Groen-Vallinga and Laurens E. Tacoma

Penal enslavement in the early middle ages
Alice Rio

Prison and convict labour in early modern Europe
Pieter Spierenburg

“An Austrian Cayenne.” Convict labour and deportation in the Habsburg empire of the early modern period
Stephan Steiner

The long view of convict labour in the Portuguese empire, 1415-1932
Timothy J. Coates

Convict labour extraction and transportation from Britain and Ireland, 1615-1870
Hamish Maxwell-Stewart


Labouring for the Raj: convict work regimes in colonial India, 1836-1939
David Arnold

The relegation of recidivists in French Guiana in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Jean-Lucien Sanchez

“…a weapon of immense value”? Convict labour in British colonial Africa, c. 1850-1950s
Stacey Hynd

Colonies of settlement or places of banishment and torment? Penal colonies and convict labour in Latin America, c. 1800-1940
Ricardo D. Salvatore and Carlos Aguirre


Gender and convict labour: the Italian case in global context
Mary Gibson

Forced labour in Nazi concentration camps
Marc Buggeln

Historicising the Gulag
Lynne Viola

“A defilade of trick ponies”: work and physical experience in the political prison
Padraic Kenney

Rethinking working class struggle through the lens of the Carceral state: toward a labour history of inmates and guards
Heather Ann Thompson


Index of places
Post-graduate students and historians of labour, migration and punishment; sociologists and criminologists concerned with multiple forms of crime and punishment. And specialists of all areas and periods addressed in the chapters.
  • Collapse
  • Expand