On Coerced Labor [book]

Marcel M. Linden, Magaly Rodríguez García
Convict labourdefined as "the work performed by individuals under penal and/or administrative control" 2has hitherto remained marginal within both theoretical debates on "free" and "unfree" labour, and the literature on the relationship between the abolition process of chattel slavery and the persistence of other forms of coerced labour. In this respect, this chapter aims to bring it back into these debates, by making convict presence visible and by interpreting the role of convict labour at
more » ... crossroad of multiple regimes of punishment and labour relations. In particular, the essay addresses three broad questions: What historical conditions favoured the exploitation of convict labour as part of the larger process of commodification of labour? In which economic sectors did convicts work, and how did their tasks differ from those of other labourers? How did convict transportation interact with other labour migrations? In previous publications, Alex Lichtenstein and I have produced broad surveys of the secondary literature on this topic, spanning centuries and virtually covering the globe. 3 In order to offer more nuanced descriptions and interpretations of these phenomena, I now sharpen my focus. Besides concentrating exclusively on male convict labour, this chapter deals specifically with the borderlands 4 of Latin America (Patagonia, Araucanía, Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego), with the double aim of providing a synthesized view of some characteristics of convict labour in this vast and variegated region, and broadening the scope of literature on convict labour in the Americas.
doi:10.1163/9789004316386 fatcat:mce2i6ullvhwdci3trh646ci2i