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Taking Liberty
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Book description

At last a history that explains how indigenous dispossession and survival underlay and shaped the birth of Australian democracy. The legacy of seizing a continent and alternately destroying and governing its original people shaped how white Australians came to see themselves as independent citizens. It also shows how shifting wider imperial and colonial politics influenced the treatment of indigenous Australians, and how indigenous people began to engage in their own ways with these new political institutions. It is, essentially, a bringing together of two histories that have hitherto been told separately: one concerns the arrival of early democracy in the Australian colonies, as white settlers moved from the shame and restrictions of the penal era to a new and freer society with their own institutions of government; the other is the tragedy of indigenous dispossession and displacement, with its frontier violence, poverty, disease and enforced regimes of mission life.


‘This is the first book to get to grips not only with how settlers in the Australian colonies gained powers of self-government, but how those powers were comprehended, experienced and resisted by Aboriginal Australians. Rigorously researched and compellingly narrated, this is one book that everyone with an interest in settler colonialism must read.'

Alan Lester - University of Sussex and La Trobe University, Melbourne

‘Curthoys and Mitchell take issue with major trends in the field and aim at genres of narrative that have failed to capture the dialectics between settlers and indigenous communities. This is a fierce, unflinching case for rooting principles of equality and inclusion in deep, unsentimental genealogies of the nineteenth-century experience.'

Antoinette Burton - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

‘This is an important book. It is deeply learned. It compels a rethinking of political history as traditionally conceived, demanding a reckoning with the centrality of violence and the attempted erasure or coercion of Indigenous peoples to the development of democracy and colonial self-government both in Australia and the wider British settler empire. Chilling, heartbreaking, magisterial: this book is a game-changer.'

Elizabeth Elbourne - McGill University, Montreal

‘This landmark book traces a vital shift in the histories of liberty and unfreedom across the Australian colonies in the mid nineteenth century, for the first time interrogating how responsible government and the gaining of democratic rights and freedoms for settlers gave rise to violent and oppressive degrees unfreedom for Indigenous peoples. A must read for all historians of Australia and of settler colonialism.'

Penelope Edmonds - University of Tasmania

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Page 1 of 2

  • 11 - ‘A Refugee in Our Own Land’
    pp 269-287
  • Governing Aboriginal People In Victoria

Page 1 of 2


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