The penal colony that the british established in the Andaman Islands at the end of the 1850s was originally intended as a place of permanent exile for a particular class of Indian criminals. These offenders had, for the most part, been convicted by special tribunals in connection with the Indian rebellions of 1857–58. As the British vision of rehabilitation in the Andamans evolved, the former rebels were joined in the islands by men and women convicted under the Indian Penal Code. In the islands, transported criminals were subjected to various techniques of physical, spatial, occupational, and political discipline (Sen 1998). The slow transition from a convicted criminal to a prisoner in a chain gang, to employment as a Self-Supporter or a convict officer in the service of the prison regime, to life as a free settler in a penal colony was in effect a process by which the state sought to transform the criminal classes of colonial India—the disloyal, the idle, the elusive and the disorderly—into loyal, orderly, and governable subjects.

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