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Title: The Indian convict labourer : convict or labourer? The interrelation between the colonial penal system, convict transportation and the usage of Indian convict labour by the British in colonial Singapore from 1825–1873
Authors: Valarmathi Mahendran
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::History::Asia::Singapore::Politics and government
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: Singapore’s past as a penal settlement has been largely based upon the usage of Indian convict labour to build up the colonial state in the 19th century. Indian convicts who had been forcefully transported over from other British penal settlements served their respective sentences through labouring in Singapore. They were known as both convicts and labourers, and the enigma surrounding the dual identity of the Indian convict labourer compels a critical questioning of the role of Indian convict labour in penal settlements as it indicates an interrelation between the colonial penal system and the usage of forced labour in colonial settlements. This paper first explores the Indian convicts’ entanglement in a colonial penal system that had justified and legalised penal transportation as well as the usage of forced labour. It then shows the colonial administrators’ preoccupation with governing as well as reshaping convicts through labour, so as to assert their inherent legitimacy, power and authority over them. Lastly, it looks to local European perception on the usage of convict labour and in doing so, it serves to provide an explanation for the cessation of penal transportation in 1860 and the discontinuation of Indian convict labour in 1873 in Singapore.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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