New book on convict resisters

Chief Investigators Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (University of New England) and Emeritus Professor Michael Quinlan (University of NSW) have completed a book, Unfree Workers: Insubordination and Resistance in Convict Australian 1788-1860 (Palgrave Macmillan, London, forthcoming).

Following on from Quinlan’s 2018 book The Origins of Worker Mobilisation: Australia 1788-1850, this new book explores  how convicts played a key role in the development of capitalism in Australia and how their active resistance shaped both workplace relations and institutions.

For the first time, this book maps the scale and extent of convict resistance in terms of the number of incidents, the rate of actions over time and the numbers involved.  Drawing on two unique ‘big data’ sets this book provides both a quantitative and qualitative assessment of convict-worker resistance from the moment of their embarkation on ships bound for the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land to their arrival and deployment into various categories of state and private employment.