In an age when other colonial powers made extensive use of penal transportation to solve metropolitan prison problems, stake claim to new territory and accelerate economic development in distant possessions, the Netherlands was sparing in its use of convict exile in colonial Indonesia. Through an examination of three Dutch ventures into penal transportation—Karimun Jawa, Banjuwangi and Boven Digul—this paper argues that abundance of local labour, a system of territorial claim based on treaties with Native rulers, and concerns over the prestige of Europeans led the Netherlands and Netherlands Indies authorities to abjure penal transportation except in special circumstances.


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