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Indigenous Rights and Colonial Subjecthood
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Book description

Amanda Nettelbeck explores how policies designed to protect the civil rights of indigenous peoples across the British Empire were entwined with reforming them as governable colonial subjects. The nineteenth-century policy of 'Aboriginal protection' has usually been seen as a fleeting initiative of imperial humanitarianism, yet it sat within a larger set of legally empowered policies for regulating new or newly-mobile colonised peoples. Protection policies drew colonised peoples within the embrace of the law, managed colonial labour needs, and set conditions on mobility. Within this comparative frame, Nettelbeck traces how the imperative to protect indigenous rights represented more than an obligation to mitigate the impacts of colonialism and dispossession. It carried a far-reaching agenda of legal reform that arose from the need to manage colonised peoples in an Empire where the demands of humane governance jostled with colonial growth.

Reviews

‘This tremendously erudite book unveils the power of colonial protection policies. Protection, Nettelbeck insists, was a double-edged sword. A humanitarian project to mitigate the worst effects of colonization, it entailed the subjection of indigenous peoples to British law, the policing of their behaviour and the loss of their sovereignty. This important book should be read by everyone interested in imperialism.'

Alan Lester - University of Sussex

‘Ranging confidently across Britain's nineteenth-century empire, Nettelbeck remains constantly attuned to local practices of settler coercion and indigenous resistance as she charts the evolution of indigenous ‘protection'. This arresting study reveals how humanitarian concerns and the imperatives of colonial governance not only comfortably co-existed, but were actually inextricably entwined.'

Zoë Laidlaw - University of Melbourne

‘Finding coherence in Britain's governance of its sprawling empire has challenged historians. Amanda Nettelbeck is one of Australia's foremost historians of colonial frontier relations. With this fine book, she shows how ‘protection' policies evolved along with legal regulation and coercion of indigenous subjects, leaving deep scars in settler colonial states.'

Angela Woollacott - Australian National University

‘Nettelbeck has produced a definitive study of the first decades of Aboriginal Protection in Australia and New Zealand that is deeply read, exhaustively researched and revelatory in its exploration of the relationship of antipodean protection with myriad cognates in the nineteenth-century British empire.'

Lisa Ford - University of New South Wales

‘… Nettelbeck provides an eye-opening analysis of the interactions of imperial policies and local circumstances in the initial diverse but converging attempts by Australian colonial administrations to effectively make indigenous peoples into legal subjects of the crown, and then later to legislate their existence.’

S. Perreault Source: Choice

‘This extremely well-documented study offers an impeccable diachronic revision of the double-edged British Aboriginal Protection scheme during the nineteenth century.’

Gerardo Rodríguez-Salas Source: Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies

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