The Global Versus the Local: Modeling the British System of Convict Transportation After 1830

  • Sean WinterEmail author
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA, volume 35)


British convict transportation was a long-running system that forcibly removed convicted criminals to colonies all over the world. Running from ca. 1600 to ca. 1900, the British system comprised a network of over 20 penal colonies in the Americas, Africa, South-east Asia, and Australia, managed from a central hub in London, England. However, the nature and operation of convictism changed over time, developing from an ad hoc affair to a well-developed system organized around standard operating procedures. By 1830 changing penal theory led to a system that favored reform over punishment, while the inclusion of the Royal Engineers in its operation meant an increasing architectural standardization. Nevertheless, the operation and physical form of each individual penal colony was a unique amalgam of the needs of the system and the local needs of that colony. Assessing the archaeological remains of each British penal colony is thus a matter of understanding the needs of the system at the time it was implemented, combined with the needs of the colony.


Material Culture Corporal Punishment Penal Colony Archaeological Investigation Penal System 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology, M405, School of Social and Cultural StudiesUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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