Abstracts - Moving Under Pressure

Daniel Beer
Reader in Modern European History at Royal Holloway, University of London

 "Siberian Exile: The Biopolitics of Penal Migration in Imperial Russia, 1800-1830"
The paper will examine the failure of the tsarist state to effectively combine punishment and colonisation in Siberia in the early nineteenth century. The exile system was a vast project of penal migration, one which depended on the efficient transfer, control and deployment of convicts and their transformation into robust and self-disciplined frontier settlers who would populate and develop a continent. But beneath the autocracy’s lofty ambitions for the coercive colonisation of a continent, the exile system was a chronically under-governed imperial space, shaped by the administrative weakness of the state, the corruption of the authorities and by the subversive activities of the exiles themselves.

Examination of the three key planks in the state’s imperial project beyond the Urals – the deportation, the territorial control and the rehabilitation of the exile population – reveals a widening gulf between the state’s designs and its ability to implement them. State policy in Siberia found no transmission belts in the traditional structures of feudalism. The government found itself directly responsible for administering, provisioning, controlling and disciplining hundreds of thousands of its own subjects.

Chronically underfunded, mismanaged and brutalised, exiles lacked the incentives and resources necessary to establish themselves as reformed, independent and productive colonists in Siberia’s unforgiving climate and terrain. The families of convoy officers, prisoners’ associations, lynch mobs, bounty hunters, and the destitute and desperate families of the exiles themselves all proved unreliable and subversive adjuncts of state power. Penal migration to Siberia foundered on the underdevelopment of the tsarist regime and on the disproportion between its soaring imperial ambition and its outmoded administrative capacities.


Edward Blumenthal
Université III-Sorbonne Nouvelle

"Loyalist Exiles and Border Formation: Chile and the Río de la Plata, 1817-1833"
The Pincheira brothers were loyalist creoles from Chile, whose military actions in the indigenous borderlines highlight the intersection of political and economic emigration as well as the “Multiple Mobilities” that emerged during the revolutionary period and its immediate aftermath in the southern Andes. After the "liberation" of Chile by patriot forces in 1817, the remaining loyalists retreated south to the borderlands region controlled by indigenous peoples —whom they had already encouraged to rebel against the patriots following the outbreak of revolutionary governments in 1810— where they waged a guerrilla war against the new independent governments. The Pincheira family participated in indigenous economic and migratory networks, from their stronghold in Neuquén, currently on the Argentine side of the border, which involved raising or stealing cattle in the Pampas before selling them to creoles in Chile, while also attracting Chilean loyalist emigration. Until the Pincheira surrender in 1833, long after the defeat of loyalist forces elsewhere in Chile and Spanish America, these loyalists battled Chilean republican forces while also participating in Native American politics in the Río de la Plata, raiding creole villages and aligning with one faction or another in the rioplatense civil wars.

These events came together in the 1830 Massacre at Chacay, a minor but revealing event in the rioplatense civil wars that took place in the Argentine border provinces, in which indigenous forces aligned with the Pincheira massacred Federal troops that had sought refuge with them after a revolution. The massacre and its aftermath highlight the complicated territorial dynamics of exile. Émigrés found refuge in Chile as well as in neighboring provinces and indigenous held territories. This paper argues that these “multiple mobilities” played a role in shaping the borders between different polities, whether provincial, international or those between indigenous and creole societies.


Maurizio Isabella
Queen Mary University of London

Paper Title and Abstract coming soon

Jan C. Jansen
German Historical Institute, Washington, DC

"Removing Aliens: Alien Laws, Subjecthood and Counter-Revolution in the British Atlantic, 1792–1820s"

The age of revolutions brought about new concepts of belonging along with profound changes in the principles and practices governing the relationship between states and their residents. New concepts of national citizenship were given tangible expression in written constitutions that defined who the “people” or “citizens” were and their rights vis-à-vis the state. But older concepts of subjecthood – despite the appearance of continuity – also underwent fundamental transformations during this period. While scholars tend to ascribe these changes to revolutions and revolutionists, this paper argues that the movements of people fleeing revolution and violent conflict were no less important in shaping these processes of redefining the statuses of insiders and outsiders during this era. The revolutionary age was also the heyday of so-called alien laws passed by national or colonial governments to control and limit the arrival of foreign refugees. Putting emphasis on the imperial dimensions of this phenomenon, the paper examines the efforts by colonial authorities in Jamaica to stem the tide of revolution-induced migration to the island. It shows that the Caribbean colonies were much more of a testing ground for anti-revolutionary migration control than the British metropole was. Jamaica’s alien laws entwined migration control with long-standing practices of suppressing slave unrest. This had far-reaching consequences for the concept of British subjecthood itself – which only became apparent to a metropolitan public towards the end of the revolutionary era.


Kirsten McKenzie
Professor of History, University of Sydney

"Political Removal: Press freedom and strategies of exile in the British Empire"

This paper considers two moments in which British imperial authorities acted to silence voices of political dissent by means of enforced exile. In 1823 James Silk Buckingham, editor of the Calcutta Journal, was ‘transmitted’ (forcibly removed) from Bengal after the paper’s persistent criticisms of the East India Company and the Bengal government. Assistant editor Sandford Arnot later met the same fate. A year after Buckingham’s exile, George Greig, proprietor of the recently-established South African Commercial Advertiser, fell foul of authorities in the Cape Colony. In May 1824, the Advertiser was closed down under threat of government censorship. Greig too was ordered into exile by Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset, an action justified by Cape Dutch legal precedents dubbed ‘political removal’. The cases were widely publicized across the British empire, not least by the victims themselves who manipulated the scandals astutely. Colonial authorities’ attacks on press freedom using expulsion without trial caused sufficient outrage to prompt measures of compensation and redress. Such scandals provided a backdrop for legal controversies over banishment and the press that emerged in the colony of New South Wales later in the same decade.

The intention of this paper is to draw out the way in which such cases sit within a contested framework of British imperial law and practice in the 1820s. As large portions of the globe emerged from the Napoleonic conflict, the definition of subjecthood and the respective rights of such subjects and the state became increasingly vexed questions. As the legal systems of varied jurisdictions came into collision under the postwar reorientation of polities, spaces were opened up for both repression and resistance.


Friedemann Pestel
University of Freiburg

"(Un-)Settling Exile: Imagining Outposts of the French Emigration across the Globe"

This paper presents a global panorama of settlement projects by French émigrés in the 1790s. These projects – partly realized, planned or imagined – aimed at transforming the émigré diaspora into defined territories and even at merging the dispersed émigré “colonies” into one “colony” outside Europe. Situated between the Americas, the Caribbean, North Africa, the Black Sea, and Australia, these projects allow, on the one hand, for analyzing the émigrés’ political options and spatial imaginaries of exile in their relation to political loyalty and the possibility of a return to France. On the other hand, they highlight the émigrés’ strategical and situational relation towards French, British, and Spanish imperialism and colonial slavery. Such a spatialized perspective on political migration contributes to reconsidering the historical agency of French émigrés. No longer appearing as “absentees” from the Revolution, their mobility and awareness about the global impact of the “Age of Revolutions” as an “Age of Emigrations” provided them with alternative options to the radicalization of the Revolution in France that would also impact the post-revolutionary order.


Liam Riordan
Professor of History, University of Maine

"Loyalist Exile and Opportunity: Mobility and Colonial State Formation in Northeastern North America, 1755-1800"

The trope of Loyalist suffering at the hands of abusive rebels was powerfully voiced and earnestly felt by those displaced by the American Revolution. More than 60,000 colonists had left what became the United States to live in other corners of the British empire by the 1790s, a strikingly high ratio of the colonial population. Yet this resonant framework of suffering masks the colonial imperatives that informed Loyalist self-understanding and action, which was often premised on the benefits of geographic mobility. Many Loyalist migrants received substantial assistance from the British government and military, yet even more important than material support for the Loyalist diaspora was the definitive place of migration in colonization. Every person living in rebellious British colonial societies understood themselves in an expansive geographic context where migration promised varied rewards.

This paper looks at English-speaking migrants in wartime Northeastern North America in the opening phases of the long Age of War and Revolution. The most important destination for Loyalist refugees from the U.S. were the British mainland colonies to the north. Nova Scotia received about 32,000 new colonists and Quebec some 14,000. Both were still very lightly settled by English-speakers in the 1780s, and the creation of the new colonies of New Brunswick (1784) as well as Upper and Lower Canada (1791) highlight the symbiosis of Loyalist exile and colonial state formation.

The disruption of war was critical to both processes, and this martial significance pre-dates the War for American Independence in many ways. The most direct precursor to Revolutionary forced migration in the Northeast was the British deportation of over 10,000 Acadian settlers from Nova Scotia during the Seven Years War. This opened rich farmland for migrants from southern New England, now collectively termed “New England Planters,” who were both a model and a foil for the Loyalist arrival that peaked in the early 1780s. Rather than begin with the large-scale Loyalist evacuations of major British garrison cities in 1782-83, this paper looks closely at the short-lived colony of New Ireland in Maine (1779-84) and the chain migrations that led Loyalist settlers there and then to Passamaquoddy Bay (in what would become New Brunswick) when displaced, again, by the terms of the peace treaty. War, free and forced migration, and state formation are inter-connected themes to better understand the Loyalist diaspora as an intense but not altogether unusual aspect of British colonialism.


Padraic Scanlan
London School of Economics

"Slavery, Pardon and Exile in the British Caribbean, 1790-1830" 

Exile was a common experience in the age of revolution, an important feature of an era of transnational political and cultural transformation. The age of revolution also transformed institutions of slave labour across the Atlantic world, intensifying the power of slave-owners in some places while destroying or weakening it in others. In particular, the Haitian Revolution became a bellwether; a symbol of defiance, freedom and self-determination to enslaved people and free people of African descent, an encouraging but ambiguous object-lesson to anxious elite antislavery leaders in Britain, and a horrifying and carnivalesque warning to slave-owners throughout the Americas. In the 1790s, shortly after the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution, transportation became a more common punishment for both enslaved people and Maroon communities in Britain's Caribbean colonies. Enslaved people who might have been imprisoned, sold or executed were instead sent into exile; the Trelawney Maroons of Jamaica were sent first to Nova Scotia, and then to Sierra Leone by the Jamaican Assembly as a punishment for the Second Maroon War of 1795-96. This paper examines what the surprising rise of the punishment of forced exile can explain about changes in the British colonial world in the wake of the rise of antislavery, and shows how slave-ownership and antislavery overlapped into striking and sometimes discomfiting ways. Transportation was a part of the broader campaign for the 'amelioration' of colonial slavery, and like other amelioration policies, it passed easily from ‘progressive’ slave-owners to leading antislavery activists.