Subaltern Lives uses biographical fragments of the lives of convicts, captives, sailors, slaves, indentured labourers and indigenous peoples to build a fascinating new picture of colonial life in the nineteenth-century Indian Ocean. Moving between India, Africa, Mauritius, Burma, Singapore, Ceylon, the Andaman Islands and the Australian colonies, Clare Anderson offers fresh readings of the nature and significance of 'networked' Empire. She reveals the importance of penal transportation for colonial expansion and sheds new light on convict experiences of penal settlements and colonies, as well as the relationship between convictism, punishment and colonial labour regimes. The book also explores the nature of colonial society during this period and embeds subaltern biographies into key events like the abolition of slavery, the Anglo-Sikh Wars and the Indian Revolt of 1857. This is an important new perspective on British colonialism which also opens up new possibilities for the writing of history itself.