This collection represents a serious re-examination of existing work on the Aboriginal history of nineteenth-century Victoria, deploying the insights of postcolonial thought to wrench open the inner workings of territorial expropriation and its historically tenacious variability. Colonial historians have frequently asserted that the management and control of Aboriginal people in colonial Victoria was historically exceptional; by the end of the century, colonies across mainland Australia looked to Victoria as a ‘model’ for how to manage the problem of Aboriginal survival. This collection carefully traces the emergence and enactment of this ‘model’ in the years after colonial separation, the idiosyncrasies of its application and the impact it had on Aboriginal lives.
It is no exaggeration to say that the work on colonial Victoria represented here is in the vanguard of what we might see as a ‘new Australian colonial history’. This is a quite distinctive development shaped by the aftermath of the history wars within Australia and through engagement with the ‘new imperial history’ of Britain and its empire. It is characterised by an awareness of colonial Australia’s positioning within broader imperial circuits through which key personnel, ideas and practices flowed, and also by ‘local’ settler society’s impact upon, and entanglements with, Aboriginal Australia. The volume heralds a new, spatially aware, movement within Australian history writing. – Alan Lester
This is a timely, astutely assembled and well nuanced collection that combines theoretical sophistication with empirical solidity. Theoretically, it engages knowledgeably but not uncritically with a broad range of influences, including postcolonialism, the new imperial history, settler colonial studies and critical Indigenous studies. Empirically, contributors have trawled an impressive array of archival sources, both standard and relatively unknown, bringing a fresh eye to bear on what we thought we knew but would now benefit from reconsidering. Though the collection wears its politics openly, it does so lightly and without jeopardising fidelity to its sources. – Patrick Wolfe
For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.