America’s Impure Superfluities

Convict Labour in 18th Century Maryland

  • Thu 30 Nov 23

    16:00 - 17:30

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Alexandra Cox and Dr Stuart Sweeney

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    C4C and Department of Sociology

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Anna Di Ronco

Join the Centre for Criminology and Department of Sociology for an insightful seminar with Dr Alexandra Cox and Dr Stuart Sweeney.

The tobacco plantations of colonial Maryland offer a microcosm of the economic, social and religious turbulence of the New World. Working shoulder to shoulder to sow and harvest Orinoco tobacco were enslaved people, indentured servants and transported British convicts, all bought at Maryland markets, for different prices and periods of captivity. In re-telling the stories these convicts, from trial in Britain to packed Atlantic voyage, to forced labour in fields poisoned by tobacco, then eventual freedom, we scrutinise an under-researched cohort of the colonial under-class, at the meeting point of criminology and history. Branded on their arms as criminals, convicts might cover up this stigma with working uniforms. Yet stigma infused their prospects as labourers and then in attempting to acquire land with their freedom. In this paper, we will share some early research on the causes and consequences of stigma in the lives of individuals transported from England to the colonies, using the lens of property and religion to analyse this phenomenon.

Dr Alexandra Cox joined University of Reading in 2023 as an Associate Professor of Criminology, having previously served as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at SUNY New Paltz and as a Research Scholar in Law at Yale University Law School. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Cambridge and her undergraduate degree from Yale University. Her first book, Trapped in a Vice: the Consequences of Confinement for Young People, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2018 and won the American Society of Criminology Critical Criminology book award. Her second book is an edited volume on juvenile imprisonment, co-edited with Professor Laura Abrams of UCLA. Prior to receiving her Ph.D., she worked at the Neighbourhood Defender Service of Harlem and Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of Legal Affairs. She is a former Gates Cambridge scholar and a Soros Justice Advocacy fellow.

Dr Stuart Sweeney Visiting Research Fellow, University of Reading, Department of History)

This seminar is part of an open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Criminology and Department of Sociology.