What is the relationship between forced migration and queerness, especially migration that takes the form of transportation to an offshore detention facility under the auspices of a state security regime? How could an obsession with same-sex eroticism on the part of a prison administration affect the political ecology of an entire archipelago? What insights can be gained by opening a dialogue between the interdisciplinary fields of political ecology and LGBTQ studies? This essay examines such questions through a late-nineteenth-century crackdown on “unnatural offences” at the British penal colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The prosecution of same-sex eroticism among forced migrants at the colony turns out to be intimately entangled with prison labor, discourses of visibility, recontoured landscapes, criminalization of everyday activities, and a politics of surmise. The essay argues for a more capacious and historically contextualized understanding of embodiment on the part of queer theory, one that can go beyond the suffering, labors, and desires of queered yet still visibly bounded bodies to take into account the “somaeconomic” extension of those bodies into the environments they shape.

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