"Recasting the Criminal" is a comparative examination of the government use of violence against criminals and insurgent groups in two important British imperial locations in order to examine metropolitan and colonial attitudes towards crime, race and class during a period of global revolution and rapid political change. The bulk of my evidence is composed of newspaper reports, personal accounts, letters, pamphlets, monographs and magazines published in London during this period. I investigate the treatment of West Indian slaves, Jamaican maroons, and Irish political and religious dissidents with particular attention to the types of violence -- including torture, mutilation, branding and execution -- used to "punish" these men and women. I argue that In London, unmistakably "unenlightened" acts of government violence against these subaltern groups were justified by blaming an emergent criminal class. This discourse allowed those in London to distance the actions of British citizens in the empire from the British government and from symbols of British integrity and patriotism. Furthermore, the British characterized their colonial adversaries as criminal individuals rather than members of a race or group prone to inherent criminality; these "criminal" criteria were similar across race and religion. The links in these explanations only emerge in a comparative study, and initial research suggests that these links also extend into British justification of violence in their eighteenth-century Indian territories.
Wicken, Emily Anne,
"Recasting the Criminal: Scenes of Colonial Violence in the West Indies and Ireland, 1790-1800"
History Theses and Dissertations.
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