Travelling 'Under Concern': Quakers James Backhouse and George Washington Walker Tour the Antipodean Colonies, 1832-41

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12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 1832, British Quakers James Backhouse and George Washington Walker travelled 'under concern' on a trans-imperial journey that took nine years and spanned the Australian colonies of Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales and Swan River in Western Australia, Mauritius and South Africa's Cape Colony. Backhouse and Walker were fundamental to the creation and expansion of humanitarian networks in the antipodes, where they made major humanitarian interventions in matters concerning Aboriginal peoples, penal reform, slavery and education. This paper first traces the genesis and historical dimensions of their journey to contextualise it within a long transnational tradition of Quakers travelling 'under concern'. The paper considers the tour through diverse interpretative approaches such as transnationalism and new work on transnational social movements, humanitarian travel writing and textuality, and argues that Backhouse and Walker were not imperial agents, nor were they agitators operating outside empire, but rather occupied a complex position as 'institutional opponents' working within imperial political circuits to broker various humanitarian reforms at multiple levels in the furtherance of their particular moral empire.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-788
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

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