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Legible Bodies : Race, Criminality and Colonialism in South Asia - Clare Anderson

Legible Bodies

Race, Criminality and Colonialism in South Asia

Paperback Published: 1st May 2004
ISBN: 9781859738603
Number Of Pages: 245

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From the late eighteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, the British incarcerated tens of thousands of prisoners in South Asian jails and transported tens of thousands of convicts to penal settlements overseas in South East Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Islands. Legible Bodies explores the treatment of these native criminals and sheds light on a largely overlooked practice of empire.

British penal administrators created a series of elaborate mechanisms to render criminal bodies legible. They introduced visual tags to identify prisoners and convicts, seeking to mark and/or read them both as individuals and as members of broader penal categories. The first broad theme of the book discusses the introduction of these new modes of identification - penal and decorative tattooing, clothing, photography, anthropometry and fingerprinting - exploring their frequent failures and prisoner and convict resistance against them. The second theme of the book considers the ways in which the colonial authorities atempted to use the Indian body to construct broader social groupings, both in relation to penal hierarchies and in the making of soiological categories of 'criminal types'. Thirdly, the author looks at the ways in which incarcerated communities comprised a convenient sample for colonial explorations of the nature and significance of race and caste in the Indian subcontinent. Scientists and ethnographers used prisoners to explore biological and social manifestations of the Indian other.

Through a careful reading of convicts legible bodies, the author provides a new perspective on colonial history.

Industry Reviews

"A comprehensive study that also points to new avenues of scholarly inquiry, Legible Bodies is an important addition to the fields of criminology, history, and colonial/post-colonial studies." --Elizabeth Kolsky, Villanova University

List of Figuresp. vi
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: Textualizing the Indian Criminal Bodyp. 1
Inscribing the Criminal Body: the Penal Tattoop. 15
'Surely there is more in this than mere ornament': Ethnography, Surveillance and the Decorative Tattoop. 57
The Question of Convict Dressp. 101
Voir/Savoir: Photographing, Measuring and Fingerprinting the Indian Criminalp. 141
Emperors of the Lilliputians: Criminal Physiology and the Indian Social Bodyp. 181
Bibliographyp. 209
Indexp. 233
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781859738603
ISBN-10: 1859738605
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 245
Published: 1st May 2004
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.64 x 13.82  x 1.37
Weight (kg): 0.33