“Failing in every endeavour to conciliate”: Governor Arthur's Proclamation Boards to the Aborigines, Australian conciliation narratives and their transnational connections

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9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 1829 Lieutenant Governor George Arthur issued a series of Proclamation Boards illustrated with images of friendship, equality before the law and mutual punishment for Aborigines and Europeans alike, in an attempt to conciliate Aboriginal people in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). These striking images have been reworked over time, and have come to shape understandings of Australian history at national and international levels. Yet for images so regularly cited in history books they have been under researched and frequently detached from the interconnected global and imperial histories that produced them. In line with new work that seeks to trace the political and cultural networks of empire, this paper considers the boards in transnational context. Proposing that the boards be considered objects of diplomacy, the paper examines the transference of iconography, including the humanitarian handshake, found on treaty medals and British anti-slavery tokens between networked British colonies. Reflecting on the visual lexicon of imperialism and broader discourses of the management of Indigenous peoples and slaves in British colonies and former colonies, the paper reveals how these political objects promoting peace and conciliation were often distributed in ritual gesture within a climate of Indigenous dispossession of their lands, frontier conflict and war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-218
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conciliation
  • Empire
  • Governor Arthur
  • Peace medals
  • Proclamation boards

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