Macquarie University
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Children in chains: juvenile male convictism and the formation of subjectivity, Carters' Barracks and Point Puer

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:06 authored 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.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. Come all you wild and wicked youths : representations of young male convicts in nineteenth-century English broadsides -- Chapter 2. Juveniles as human capital : re-evaluating the economic value of juvenile male convict labour -- Chapter 3. Making them good and useful : the ideology of juvenile penal reformation at Carters' Barracks and Point Puer -- Chapter 4. Pure minds, pure bodies, pure lips : religious ideology and the juvenile convict institutions at Carters' Barracks and Point Puer -- Chapter 5. Becoming men : masculinities and the juvenile convict institutions of Carters' Barrack and Point Puer-- Chapter 6. First of its kind : an analysis of early juvenile prison architecture in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land -- Conclusion -- Bibliography.


Bibliography: pages 241-264 Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robert Reynolds

Additional Supervisor 1

Tanya Davies


Copyright Cameron Bruce Nunn 2017. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (viii, 264 pages) illustrations

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