Indigenous and settler relations

Tracey Banivanua Mar, Penelope Edmonds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


At the close of the eighteenth century, contact between Aboriginal people and Europeans was localised along coastal regions of the continent. Penal setdements at Port Jackson and in Van Diemen's Land sat at the edge of vast Aboriginal worlds. The crown's Instructions to Governor Phillip were to 'endeavour by every possible means to open an Intercourse with the Natives and to conciliate their affections', 'to live in amity and kindness with them', and to 'punish' those who would 'wantonly destroy them'. But small British military garrisons and coastal setdements were unstable contact zones in which rituals of diplomacy could mix easily with aggression. Contact, conciliation and conflict would always be closely intertwined.

Newcomers often depended on Indigenous knowledge for their survival. Acts of curiosity, accord and handshakes could be performed by British and Aboriginal people and then followed swiftly by ritualised acts of judicial violence: a highly choreographed British hanging, for example, or a closely sequenced Aboriginal spearing. In the early years, when debates over the reach of British sovereignty were in flux, the British responded to conflict with Aboriginal people in localised and disparate ways, and it was nearly half a century before the authority claimed by the British crown was setded legal doctrine.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Australia
Subtitle of host publicationIndigenous and Colonial Australia
EditorsAlison Bashford, Stuart Macintyre
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781107445758
ISBN (Print)9781107011533 (vol. 1), 9781107011557 (set of 2)
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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