More than 800,000 people were exiled to Siberia during the nineteenth century. Exile was a complex administrative arrangement that involved differentiated flows of exiles and, in the view of the central authorities, contributed to the colonization of Siberia. This article adopts the “perspective from the colonies” and analyses the local dimension of exile to Siberia. First, it underscores the conflicted nature of the practice by highlighting the agency of the local administrators and the multitude of tensions and negotiations that the maintenance of exile involved. Secondly, by focusing on the example of the penal site of Tobolsk, where exile and imprisonment overlapped, I will elucidate the uneasy relationship between those two penal practices during Russian prison reform. In doing so, I will re-evaluate the position of exile in relation to both penal and governance practice in Imperial Russia.
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