Institute of Archaeology


Just measuring pain? Landscapes of production and punishment at an Australian convict station

30 October 2018, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

UCL Institute of Archaeology

Event Information

Open to



Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Martin Gibbs and Richard Tuffin (University of New England) will give a seminar at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 30 October.


Convicts were workers. In teams and gangs, or individually, the majority of the 165,000 men and women who underwent a sentence in the Australian colonies during the transportation period (1788-1868) experienced the imposition of unfree labour regimes. The processes and products of this labour cannot be separated from the landscape within which it was carried out. Their lives were defined by the tangible and intangible boundaries erected by those managing their labour. The creation of these methods of control and coercion, as well as the results of the convicts' labour itself, have left an indelible mark upon the Australian landscape.

This paper presents the early results of an Australian Research Council-funded project, Landscapes of Production and Punishment. Utilising archaeological and historical methodology we are asking what a landscape of convict labour looks like. Every production statistic and report inked in the documents represented a very real moment of exertion. Each moment was comprised of elements of punishment, economy and reform, mirroring wider debates about the purpose and efficacy of the whole transportation system. The composition of this work - and the built and modified landscapes that resulted - is therefore important for understanding not only the nature of convict labour, but also the very nature of the transportation project.

All welcome. The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception in the Staff and Research Student Common Room (Room 609).

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Hannah Williams.