About

The first global history of penal colonies

The Carceral Archipelago project is funded by the European Research Council (2013-2018). It is based in the School of History at the University of Leicester, under the direction of Professor Clare Anderson.

The aim of the project is to write the first global history of penal colonies. The project team is building on specific regional literatures, and working in archives all over the world,in order to piece together the scope and scale of convict transportation.

The project starts with Portugal’s first use of convicts for colonisation purposes in North Africa in 1415, and ends with the dissolution of Stalin’s gulags in the 1960s.

We are exploring how convict transportation and penal colonies intersect with larger histories of imperialism, unfree labour, coerced migration, confinement and incarceration. This includes research on their relationship to other forms of punishment, indentured labour, enslavement, Indigenous reservation and settler societies.

Our work spans all the global powers engaged in transportation forthe purpose of expansion and colonisation – including the European Empires, Russia, Latin America, and Japan. Our aim is to foreground penal colonies in world history as engines of global change, and to define their long-term impacts on economy,society and identity in a range of global locations.

Our work spans all the global powers engaged in transportation for the purpose of expansion and colonisation  – including the European Empires, Russia, Latin America, and Japan.

Project Team

Professor Clare Anderson Principal Investigator (British & French Empires, inc. Bermuda, Caribbean, Gibraltar, French Guiana, New Caledonia)

Dr Christian De Vito Research Associate (Spanish & Portuguese Empires, Ecuador)

Dr Adam J Barker Research Associate (North America)

Dr Minako Sakata Research Associate (Hokkaido, Japan)

Takashi Miyamoto Research Associate (Japan & Southern Islands)

Mikhail Nakonechny Researcher (Russian Empire & USSR)

Dr Eureka Henrich Researcher (Australian convict heritage)

Dr Sarah Longair Researcher (Zanzibar)

Dr Lorraine Paterson Researcher (French Empire)

Maureen Rail Researcher (South Africa)

Dr Aaron Jaffer Researcher (South Asia)

Manuela Sanchez Noriega Researcher (Ecuador)

Carrie Crockett PhD student (Sakhalin Island, Russian Far East)

Katherine Roscoe PhD student (Rottnest & Cockatoo islands, Australia)

Ms Rachel Dawes  Project Administrator

Advisory Board

Professor Timorthy Coates (College of Charleston)Dr Simon Dixon (University of Leicester)Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (University of Tasmania)Professor Judith Pallot (Christ Church College, Oxford), Dr Miranda Spieler (The American University of Paris), Professor Ann Stoler (The New School for Social Research), Professor Kerry Ward (Rice University)