Amanda Nettelbeck (Adelaide) on creating Aboriginal subjects of the Crown in colonial Australia – this Wed., May 3

Protection, conciliation and coercion: creating Aboriginal subjects of the Crown in colonial Australia

Centre for Imperial and Global History Seminar Series

When: Wed. May 3, 4:30pm

Where: Amory 115, University of Exeter

Amanda Nettelbeck
University of Adelaide

Recent scholarship has seen a spike of interest in the politics of colonial humanitarianism and its various expressions around the British Empire from the late 18th century onwards. In particular, the project of Aboriginal ‘protection’ that had its formal heyday between the mid-1830s and the mid-1850s has received renewed focus as one of the most important means through which nineteenth-century strategies of humane governance were put into operation. Once conventionally regarded as a relatively short-lived Colonial Office agenda to extend justice and rights to indigenous people, the mid nineteenth-century project of protection has more recently been reconsidered in terms of its role to help secure the Crown’s practical jurisdiction in unruly colonies, and its motivations to create indigenous people’s colonial subjectivity. Continue reading “Amanda Nettelbeck (Adelaide) on creating Aboriginal subjects of the Crown in colonial Australia – this Wed., May 3”

‘The Indian masseur’: How Teepoo Hall Kneaded Early ‘White’ Melbourne

Nadia Rhook
La Trobe University

I recently came across a photograph I can’t stop thinking about. Captured in 1905, it shows a Bangalore-trained masseur, Teepoo Hall, in the middle of a Melbourne Hospital room. One woman and twenty some men have clustered around Hall to watch him massage the bare shoulders of a reclining woman. Many of the students display bemusement in half-smiles. One of the men is positioned very close to Hall’s left shoulder and looks forthrightly at the camera, as if ready to learn from Hall; ready, even, to take Hall’s place.

The Weekly Times, 30 September 1905, State Library of Victoria
The Weekly Times, 30 September 1905, State Library of Victoria.

The photo shows the transfer of Indian knowledge in process in the medical heart of Melbourne. It does so four years after the institution of the racially exclusive federal 1901 Immigration Restriction Act (IRA), which was effectively reducing the numbers of Indians in Australia. And yet, as the picture shows, in the early 20th century Hall continued to promote the ‘art of massage’.[1] Indeed, Hall had recently become a founding member of the Australian Massage Association, and on this basis he features in histories of physiotherapy in Australia.[2]

The image thus tells an intriguing story, but not a typical one. Probing further, we can understand that the picture also reflects a tension of nation-building and empire. In Hall’s centrality and power, an inversion is at play. Most white-made representations of the day consigned Indians to the ‘slum’ margins of ‘Little Lon’, and showed them as an ‘undesirable nuisance’. But in this Melbourne Hospital room, Hall literally had the upper hand. Continue reading “‘The Indian masseur’: How Teepoo Hall Kneaded Early ‘White’ Melbourne”

“Malcolm X Exploded in My Mind”: The Transnational Imagination of Australian Indigenous Activists

The Black Power salute given by Chicka Dixon, Paul Coe and Bob McLeod Source: Audio Visual Archive, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra. Courtesy of the National Museum Australia website.
The Black Power salute given by Aboriginal activists Chicka Dixon, Paul Coe, and Bob McLeod in 1972. Source: Audio Visual Archive, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra. Courtesy of the National Museum Australia website.

Jon Piccini
University of Queensland
Follow on Twitter @JonPiccini

Recently, an upturn in indigenous struggles in Australia have seen the legacies of colonialism and genocide forced back onto the national radar. Protests against the closure of indigenous communities, the continued forced removal of Aboriginal children by welfare agencies, and the birth of youth-led groups like Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) are but a few examples of this. Instead of the sanitised government-sponsored campaign to ‘Recognise’ indigenous peoples in the Australian constitution, many of these activists are looking back to the global struggles of the 1960s and 1970s for their political inspiration. Continue reading ““Malcolm X Exploded in My Mind”: The Transnational Imagination of Australian Indigenous Activists”

Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain

Oswald Mosley at a BUF parade, 1936.
Oswald Mosley at a BUF parade, 1936.

Evan Smith
Flinders University
Follow on Twitter @Hatfulofhistory

‘Our world mission is the maintenance and development of the heritage of Empire,’ the leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), Sir Oswald Mosley, declared in the BUF’s journal, Fascist Quarterly, in 1936.[1] Although often overlooked by scholars of British fascism, this pro-imperial sentiment was central to the ideology of the BUF. For the BUF, the maintenance of the British Empire was imperative – key to keeping Britain’s place within the world and ensuring living standards in the domestic sphere. Continue reading “Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain”

Empires in Perspective: Baudin, Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia

Australiaexplore

Rachel Chin 
History Department, University of Exeter

Nicole Starbuck. Baudin, Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013. 208 pp. £60 (hardback), ISBN 978 1 84893 210 4; £24 (eBook), ISBN 978 1 84893 210 4.

Baudin_FrontAs the blade of the guillotine slowed in the aftermath of the Terror, Napoleon took up the reigns as First Consul and French explorer Nicolas Baudin proposed an ambitious voyage to “interest the whole of Europe” [12]. It is also where Nicole Starbuck begins Baudin, Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia (2013). A commoner by birth, Baudin made his name as a member of the French merchant marine and French East India Company, eventually captaining a scientific voyage to the Caribbean. However, his 1802 Australian voyage was unique in its narrow scope of exploration, and its unprecedented twenty-two participating naturalists and scientists. This voyage was the first to emphasize specialized knowledge acquisition and scientific detail, a shift from earlier Enlightenment explorations, when natural history was seen as “a sweeping and largely philosophical study of the natural environment…implicated in questions about rationality” [15]. Continue reading “Empires in Perspective: Baudin, Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia”

Buying British Across the World

David Thackeray

An Empire Marketing Board poster from the late 1920s
An Empire Marketing Board poster from the late 1920s

This autumn I spoke at several universities in Australia and New Zealand on the subject of the various shopping weeks that were launched to promote Empire trade during the 1920s and 1930s. The story of the Empire Marketing Board’s efforts to develop the idea of ‘Buying Empire’ in inter-war Britain is well known, and its posters still appear regularly on the covers of books written about imperial culture (and also currently featured as the background to this blog!). What is less well known is that the same cause was taken up with enthusiasm by a variety of organisations in the Dominions, and arguably achieved greater and more lasting prominence there than it did in Britain.

At the same time, it quickly became clear to me that the archives in England and Australasia were telling different stories. Politicians and businessmen in Wellington and Melbourne may have conceived themselves to be members of a ‘British’ trade community, but their understanding of what the future of the Empire as an economic unit should be often differed from their counterparts in London. Continue reading “Buying British Across the World”