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  • Cited by 6

Book description

This book provides a new approach to the historical treatment of indigenous peoples' sovereignty and property rights in Australia and New Zealand. By shifting attention from the original European claims of possession to a comparison of the ways in which British players treated these matters later, Bain Attwood not only reveals some startling similarities between the Australian and New Zealand cases but revises the long-held explanations of the differences. He argues that the treatment of the sovereignty and property rights of First Nations was seldom determined by the workings of moral principle, legal doctrine, political thought or government policy. Instead, it was the highly particular historical circumstances in which the first encounters between natives and Europeans occurred and colonisation began that largely dictated whether treaties of cession were negotiated, just as a bitter political struggle determined the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi and ensured that native title was made in New Zealand.


‘Empire and the Making of Native Title is a masterful account of the early colonisation of Australia and New Zealand that provides a clear, engaging, and persuasive explanation of why Britain treated the two places so differently.'

Stuart Banner - author of Possessing the Pacific

‘If you thought there was nothing more to say about the history of native title in Australia and New Zealand, think again. Bain Attwood's fascinating account is brimming with new insights about sovereignty, property, possession, protection, indigenous power, and imperial policy. An extraordinary achievement.'

Lauren Benton - author of A Search for Sovereignty

‘Attwood displays and advances all the best qualities of historians' post-millennial interest in law and political discourse inside the British Empire. Native title is the contested ground in the constitutional politics of the nineteenth century Australasian colonies, an irresolute discursive practice the inflections of which play out differently in their particular settings.'

P.G. McHugh - author of Aboriginal Title

'This probing work by one of Australia's most distinguished historians delivers a richly textured account of imperial claims in the Australasian colonies. Meticulously researched, it traces how British sovereignty in the settler world proceeded less from firm policy than from fluctuating circumstances that served to recognise or deny the existence of native title.'

Amanda Nettelbeck - author of Indigenous Rights and Colonial Subjecthood

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