Empires and colonial incarceration in the twentieth century

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This book engages with a controversial issue, namely the establishment of penal colonies and concentration camps in imperial spaces, which have informed ongoing debates on the repressive practices of colonial rule and popular resistance against it. The contributors offer a reassessment of the history of politically motivated incarceration based upon a multi-disciplinary perspective in a global, imperial setting during the twentieth century.
The introduction and seven chapters engage with comparative and transnational perspectives on political persecution, forced confinement and colonial rule in British, French, German, Belgian and Portuguese dominions in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Addressing political incarceration's global imperial dimensions, they focus upon the organisation, strategies, narratives and practices associated with political internment in Africa (Angola, Tanzania, Rhodesia, South Africa), Latin America (French Guyana) and the Pacific region (New Caledonia). Penal legislation, policies of convict transport and political imprisonment, resettlement, prison regimes, resistance and liberation struggles, counter insurgency, prisoner agency, and prisons as cultural spaces and of memory are discussed here for different time periods from the mid-1800s to the late twentieth century. The chapters build upon the ongoing debate on political incarceration in the empire and the remarkable dynamic scientific research witnessed over the last decades. As a result, they provide novel insights into the nature of legal systems, colonial discourse, memory, racial segregation and persecution, prisoners’ narratives of practices of punishment and incarceration, and human rights abuses in imperial spaces.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. The editors have also written an original conclusion to the present volume.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages230
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-17344-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-00272-9, 978-1-032-00273-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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