Brokers and boundaries

Brokers and boundaries

Colonial exploration in Indigenous territory

Edited by: Tiffany Shellam orcid, Maria Nugent orcid, Shino Konishi, Allison Cadzow

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Colonial exploration continues, all too often, to be rendered as heroic narratives of solitary, intrepid explorers and adventurers. This edited collection contributes to scholarship that is challenging that persistent mythology. With a focus on Indigenous brokers, such as guides, assistants and mediators, it highlights the ways in which nineteenth-century exploration in Australia and New Guinea was a collective and socially complex enterprise. Many of the authors provide biographically rich studies that carefully examine and speculate about Indigenous brokers’ motivations, commitments and desires. All of the chapters in the collection are attentive to the specific local circumstances as well as broader colonial contexts in which exploration and encounters occurred.

'This collection breaks new ground in its emphasis on Indigenous agency and Indigenous–explorer interactions. It will be of value to historians and others for a very long time.'
— Professor Ann Curthoys, University of Sydney

'In bringing together this group of authors, the editors have brought to histories of colonialism the individuality of these intermediaries, whose lives intersected colonial exploration in Australia and New Guinea.'
— Dr Jude Philp, Macleay Museum


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Apr 2016
ANU Press
Aboriginal History Monographs
Aboriginal History
Arts & Humanities: Biography & Autobiography, History; Social Sciences: Indigenous Studies


‘This volume re-inscribes the significance of Indigenous intermediaries, mediators and brokers in the history of colonial exploration. It acknowledges the agency of these intermediaries and recognises that interactions with colonial explorers allowed them to assert a place in the liminal space between coloniser and colonised.’
—Blake Singley, Australian Aboriginal Studies, Issue 2, 2017.

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