Kirsty Reid is a former Senior Lecturer in the Department, who now works at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
My research to date has primarily focused on convict transportation to the Australian colonies and on related topics like gender, crime and punishment in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, Ireland and empire. My doctoral thesis at the University of Edinburgh examined the transportation of convict women to the British Australian colony of Van Diemen’s Land between 1820 and 1839. It looked at their origins in Britain and Ireland, their crimes and life histories prior to transportation, as well their economic value and employment in the colony, their workplace relations and everyday acts of resistance to domination.
My book Gender, crime and empire: convicts, settlers and the state in early colonial Australia (Manchester, 2007) focuses on a series of ideas and debates about the family and domesticity and on related concerns about male convicts, their masculinities, bodies and sexualities. Revising established models of the colonies - which depicted convict women as a peculiarly oppressed group - Gender, Crime, and Empire argues that convict men and women in fact had much in common. Comparing men and women, ideas about masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and the body, this book argues that fuller account of class must take place to understand the relationships between gender and power. The book considers the shifting nature of state policies towards courtship, relationships, and attempts at family formation. It explores the ways that ideas about gender and family informed liberal and humanitarian critiques of the colonies from the 1830s and 1840s and colonial demands for abolition and self-government. Gender, crime and empire was awarded the 2008 ‘Australian Historical Association’s Kay Daniels’ Prize for early colonial history’.
I am currently working on a new major research project and a book entitled Australia bound: convict voyaging, 1788-1868. This project examines the 900 plus ships that left Britain and Ireland between 1788 and 1868 with approximately 163,000 convicts bound for New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land and Western Australia. Its aim is to write an experiential history of convict voyaging. I use the term ‘voyaging’ quite deliberately. Where ‘voyage’ suggests a space- and time-bound journey from point-of-origin to point-of-destination, ‘voyaging’ evokes a more fluid, flexible and open experience. It speaks of process rather than event. “Australia bound” explores three core aspects of convict voyaging: the multiple spaces and places through which convicts travelled; the attempts to render convicts into the ocean-going subjects of ship-board regimes designed to effect their mental and corporeal transformations; and the subjective, emotional and relational journeys that convicts, their families and friendship networks had necessarily to make. Much of the archival research for this project is being undertaken from October 2009 with the assistance of a Sackler-Caird Fellowship from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. For regular updates on my “Australia bound” project see my blog.
I was the co-organiser (with Dr Fiona Paisley, Griffith University, Queensland) of the Writing the empire: scribblings from below conference held in Bristol from 24-26 June 2010.