Children in chains: juvenile male convictism and the formation of subjectivity, Carters' Barracks and Point Puer
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:06 by Cameron Bruce Nunn
During the transportation period, Britain sent twenty-five thousand convict boys who were seventeen years or under to the Australian colonies. Three thousand five hundred of those boys were sent to Carters' Barracks (1820-1834), in Sydney or Point Puer (1834-1849), adjacent to Port Arthur in Tasmania. This was a bold new 'experiment' in reforming young criminals into productive members of society. What is particularly interesting is that this ideological 'experiment' was the first of its kind, anywhere in the world. This thesis is concerned with the complex ways that the juvenile convict was imagined by law-makers, reformers, penal authorities and especially the boys themselves. It argues that the ideology that surrounded juvenile transportation from the 1820s finds unique expression in the institutions of Carters' Barracks and Point Puer. It is also interested in the relationship between the boys and the various figures of penal authority, arguing that these relationships created a dynamic discursive and political space, characterised by power, resistance, compliance and subversion. It considers how often juxtaposing ideas of what it meant to be male, reformed and a useful colonial worker were played out through the myriad daily transactions at Carters' Barracks and Point Puer. It is in this relational and physical crucible, that juvenile male convict subjectivity was manifested. By focussing therefore on subjectivity, this thesis goes beyond the traditional approach of describing juvenile penal practice, exploring a wide range of primary source documents that have often been neglected by historians and offering new perspectives on juvenile convictism.