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Taking Liberty
Indigenous Rights and Settler Self-Government in Colonial Australia, 1830–1890

$105.00 (C)

Part of Critical Perspectives on Empire

  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107084858

$ 105.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • At last a history that explains how indigenous dispossession and survival underlay and shaped the birth of Australian democracy. The legacy of seizing a continent and alternately destroying and governing its original people shaped how white Australians came to see themselves as independent citizens. It also shows how shifting wider imperial and colonial politics influenced the treatment of indigenous Australians, and how indigenous people began to engage in their own ways with these new political institutions. It is, essentially, a bringing together of two histories that have hitherto been told separately: one concerns the arrival of early democracy in the Australian colonies, as white settlers moved from the shame and restrictions of the penal era to a new and freer society with their own institutions of government; the other is the tragedy of indigenous dispossession and displacement, with its frontier violence, poverty, disease and enforced regimes of mission life.

    • Australia's nineteenth-century history is set within a global context, expanding on the traditional national narrative
    • Connects and compares British imperial and settler government policies concerning indigenous dispossession and governance
    • The first history to connect indigenous dispossession, governance and survival with the arrival of democracy in the Australian colonies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This is the first book to get to grips not only with how settlers in the Australian colonies gained powers of self-government, but how those powers were comprehended, experienced and resisted by Aboriginal Australians. Rigorously researched and compellingly narrated, this is one book that everyone with an interest in settler colonialism must read.' Alan Lester, University of Sussex and La Trobe University, Melbourne

    ‘Curthoys and Mitchell take issue with major trends in the field and aim at genres of narrative that have failed to capture the dialectics between settlers and indigenous communities. This is a fierce, unflinching case for rooting principles of equality and inclusion in deep, unsentimental genealogies of the nineteenth-century experience.' Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    ‘This is an important book. It is deeply learned. It compels a rethinking of political history as traditionally conceived, demanding a reckoning with the centrality of violence and the attempted erasure or coercion of Indigenous peoples to the development of democracy and colonial self-government both in Australia and the wider British settler empire. Chilling, heartbreaking, magisterial: this book is a game-changer.' Elizabeth Elbourne, McGill University, Montreal

    ‘This landmark book traces a vital shift in the histories of liberty and unfreedom across the Australian colonies in the mid nineteenth century, for the first time interrogating how responsible government and the gaining of democratic rights and freedoms for settlers gave rise to violent and oppressive degrees unfreedom for Indigenous peoples. A must read for all historians of Australia and of settler colonialism.' Penelope Edmonds, University of Tasmania

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107084858
    • length: 444 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.83kg
    • contains: 2 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: how settlers gained self-government and indigenous people (almost) lost it
    Part I. A Four-Cornered Contest: British Government, Settlers, Missionaries and Indigenous Peoples:
    1. Colonialism and catastrophe:
    2. 'Another new world inviting our occupation': colonisation and the beginnings of humanitarian intervention, 1831–1837
    3. Settlers oppose indigenous protection:
    4. A colonial conundrum: settler rights versus indigenous rights, 1837–1842
    5. Who will control the land? Colonial and imperial debates 1842–1846
    Part II. Towards Self-Government:
    6. Who will govern the settlers? Imperial and settler desires, visions, utopias, 1846–1850
    7. 'No place for the sole of their feet': imperial-colonial dialogue on Aboriginal land rights, 1846–1851
    8. Who will govern Aboriginal people? Britain transfers control of Aboriginal policy to the colonies, 1852–1854
    9. The dark side of responsible government? Britain and indigenous people in the self-governing colonies, 1854–1870
    Part III. Self-Governing Colonies and Indigenous People, 1856–c.1870:
    10. Ghosts of the past, people of the present: Tasmania
    11. 'A refugee in our own land': governing Aboriginal people in Victoria
    12. Aboriginal survival in New South Wales
    13. Their worst fears realised: the disaster of Queensland
    14. A question of honour in the colony that was meant to be different: Aboriginal policy in South Australia
    Part IV. Self-Government for Western Australia:
    15. 'A little short of slavery': forced Aboriginal labour in Western Australia 1856–1884
    16. 'A slur upon the colony': making Western Australia's unusual constitution, 1885–1890

  • Authors

    Ann Curthoys, Australian National University, Canberra
    Ann Curthoys is an Australian historian who has written on many aspects of Australian history. Her many books include Freedom Ride: A Freedom Rider Remembers (2002), which won the Stanner Prize from the Australian Institute of indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Studies, was 'Highly Commended' for Non-Fiction in the Australian Human Rights awards and was shortlisted for the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies Award for Non-Fiction.

    Jessie Mitchell
    Jessie Mitchell holds a Ph.D. in history from the Australian National University, where she won the Australian Historical Association's Serle Award for the best Ph.D. thesis. She also won the John Barrett Award for Australian Studies for her article ''The galling yoke of slavery': race and separation in colonial Port Philip', which appeared in the Journal of Australian Studies.

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