<p> South Asian convicts transported to Southeast Asia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were part of a global system of forced migration. Together with slaves and bonded and indentured laborers, they helped settle and colonize the overseas European empires. No wonder, then, that recent writings have designated them as "convict workers," an emphasis that shifts attention away from their earlier characterization as "professional and habitual criminals" to highlight their actual lived experiences in the penal settlements. Indeed, Indian "convict workers" filled a critical need for labor in Southeast Asia, playing an especially significant role in carrying out the public works projects that were so essential to the establishment and consolidation of the British Empire in the region. This convict system came to an end in the late nineteenth century. </p>
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: May 27, 2003
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