Dr Katherine Roscoe

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology


    Personal Statement

    I am a historical criminologist with research interests centred on global mobilities, unfree labour and racial inequalities, with a particular focus on mid-nineteenth century crime and punishment in Britain and its former empire (Australia, Bermuda and Gibraltar).

    In October 2018, I took up an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology for my project ‘“Criminals Incapable of Reform?': Reassessing the population of Cockatoo Island Prison (Sydney), 1839-69'. It will create a publicly-available database of n Cockatoo Island prison's inmate population to understand how New South Wales’ transition from ‘penal’ to ‘free’ colony, in 1850, was reflected in the prison demographics and their post-release outcomes. The database, and accompanying digital resource, will be a valuable resource for family historians to trace their prisoner descendants in the post-convict era.

    I was awarded my PhD in History at the University of Leicester in December 2017, analysing how islands off the coast of Australia were used for the incarceration of European, Indigenous and immigrant prisoners in the nineteenth century. My Boydell & Brewer Doctoral award-winning thesis argues that these islands played integral roles in extending the settler-colonial frontier, racially-discriminatory governance and global expansion overseas, which I am in the process of adapting into a book. I completed my doctoral research on Rottnest Island/Wadjemup (Western Australia) and Cockatoo Island (New South Wales) as part of the European Research Council project ‘The Carceral Archipelago: Transnational Circulations in Global Perspective, 1415-1960’ (PI: Clare Anderson, University of Leicester), which told a global history of convict transportation and penal colonies.

    As the 2017-18 Alan Pearsall Fellow in Naval and Maritime History at the Institute of Historical Research, I researched the use of coerced labour for British imperial expansion, by examining the role of convicts in building Britain’s imperial dockyards at Bermuda, Gibraltar and Sydney. I am continuing to develop my research on the entanglement between convict and other forms unfree labour in cosmopolitan port-cities.
    Between 2016-18, I also worked as a Research Assistant for The Bentham Project (UCL), working on philosopher Jeremy Bentham's critiques of the Australian convict transportation system.

    I have been awarded a number of prestigious awards including, Hakluyt Society Research Grant (2018), Tomlin Bequest from the Society for Nautical Research (2018), National Archives of Australia/Australian Historical Association Postgraduate Scholarship (2016) and the Australian Bicentennial Scholarship from the Menzies Centre of Australian Studies (2014).