Richard Broome, ‘Doing Aboriginal history’, Agora 49, 2 (2014). 

Aboriginal History emerged as a discipline in the 1970s. What is it? Why should it be done? How has it been done? How should it be done? What are the problems of doing Aboriginal history in various arenas? How might they be surmounted? Where is it going now?

ACLA 2015 Call for Papers: Settler Colonial Literatures in Comparison

We are inviting papers for a seminar to be hosted at the American Comparative Literature Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting, in Seattle, Washington on March 26-29. This seminar explores how settler colonial studies contribute to our study of comparative literature, both within and beyond Anglophone settler spaces.

Recent scholarship has re-conceptualized settler colonialism as a distinct structure of domination. Despite inherent heterogeneity within settler and indigenous societies, structural opposition between the two continues beyond invasion. As such, ethnic minorities in white settler countries may participate in indigenous dispossession, and third-world postcolonial nation states may have untold histories of settler colonialism. Settler colonial history in the global scale thus entails particularly complex flows of power and structures of relation, whereby one moves vertically (structurally) from being indigenous to being settler (or vise-versa) along the horizontal global flows of migration, invasion, and settlement. In this framework, it may also become possible to examine migrants in Australia, the USA, Canada, and New Zealand for their participation in the settler order, and to query how much settler colonial domination has given legitimacy to states like Taiwan or Japan’s many islands and contributed to the ongoing conflicts in Israel or the Chinese borderlands.

In response to these complex networks of relation brought to light by settler colonial studies, this seminar examines the particular challenges and new possibilities in reading literatures comparatively across settler colonial conditions and structural positions, between postcolonial, indigenous, and ethnic literary studies. What may be our new ethos and strategies of reading and how can we engage with the particular temporal and spatial juxtapositions and scaling in settler texts? In what sense may it be productive to study literatures outside of the Anglophone settler colonies as settler colonial? Then, do settler literatures in Chinese, Japanese, or other tongues, invoke distinct literary traditions to narrate settlement and do these narratives produce divergent structures of relation? Perhaps even more importantly, can literary texts effectively narrate and envision the decolonization of settler colonialism?

We welcomes theoretical and methodological explorations of comparative settler colonial literary studies, close readings of specific sites of settler colonial heterogeneity, or comparative works that investigate relations across locations, languages, or political systems. Proposal by Aug 24, 2014. Contact: ythuang – at –


Amanda Nettelbeck, ‘“On the Side of Law and Order”: Indigenous aides to the mounted police on the settler frontiers of Australia and Canada’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 15, 2 (2014). 

The history of colonial policing has received considerable scholarly attention in terms of its function to extend and consolidate the legal jurisdiction of British rule over colonised territories and populations. This paper compares some of the complex roles played by Indigenous people who were employed primarily as “trackers” and “scouts” within mounted police forces on Australia’s and Canada’s settler frontiers. A comparative picture of indigenous participation in policing reveals parallels in colonial decision-making that went beyond local conditions, but also illuminates the different pressures of local conditions which affected the value of Indigenous auxiliaries to mounted police. These not only provide insight into the motivations of colonial authorities in enlisting indigenous people into policing networks, but also into how Indigenous people influenced the rule of law into which they were co-opted.

Daniel Stewart, ‘Indigenous people as equals?’, Legaldate 26 3 (2014).

As the founding document of the nation, the Australian Constitution should, at a minimum, recognise Indigenous people as the first people of the continent. This article argues that Parliament’s cross-party support for a referendum on constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples provides a timely opportunity for creating both formal constitutional recognition and racial equality for Indigenous people. Such recognition, as will be discussed below, was not possible until recently.

Jordana Rosenberg and Chi-ming Yang, ‘The Dispossessed Eighteenth Century’, The Eighteenth Century 55, 2-3 (2014).

This Introduction to our special journal issue is organized around the concept and lived history of dispossession. Its immediate occasion is provoked as much by our current, post-2008 economic crisis as by the legacy of domestic and imperial enclosures in the British Empire of the long eighteenth century. We trace recent debates on dispossession and settler colonialism to Marx’s writings on primitive accumulation and debt, alongside his eighteenth-century sources, with particular attention to the prominent role assigned to Asian states for Enlightenment theorists of absolutism and twenty-first century theorists of capitalism alike. To the extent that recent debates in political economy have centered on China and India as potential rival hegemons to U.S. power, we note that the specter of the “Asiatic” has shaped and continues to shape and disrupt Western chronologies of capitalist development. Moreover, the history of capitalist production—with its attendant crises and violent consolidations of power and resources—must be studied through the development of slavery and race. We argue that literary and materialist approaches to these interconnected phenomena can illuminate the ways in which capitalism’s baleful and bloodthirsty proscriptions have been discursively sedimented; so, too, have otherwise-occluded histories of resistance become aesthetically encoded. The perspicacity and the Eurocentrism of the longue durée approach toward the history of world economic change continue to confront historians and theorists alike, and it is this conversation between history and theory—across time and space—that we foreground here.

Rachel Busbridge, ‘On haunted geography: Writing Nation and Contesting Claims in the Ghost Village of Lifta’, Interventions (Published online 11 Jul 2014).

This essay explores the case of Lifta, a ‘ghost village’ located just outside of Jerusalem which has recently emerged as a poignant site of Israeli–Palestinian national contestation. The last remaining depopulated village from the 1948 Palestinian Catastrophe (al-Nakba), Lifta has been slated for ‘redevelopment’ since 2004: a plan that would see the village replaced by a luxury, Jewish-only residential and commercial complex. Employing the dual analytical lens of haunting and imagined geography, this essay examines Lifta as an instance of ‘haunted geography’ in which settler colonial attempts to write nation are always confronted by what is written underneath. Not only is Lifta a stark fissure in Israeli imagined geographies of nation, in that it speaks to an alternate geography which calls into question the former’s legitimacy, but also the attempt to Judaize Lifta has provoked the ‘ghosts’ of the past. These ghosts demonstrate both the past’s continuing legacy in the present and the impossibility of erasing Palestinian claims and memories. With counter-calls for Lifta to become a site of commemoration, I argue that the village has come to be representative of a reconciliatory futurity in Israel–Palestine. This reconciliatory futurity paradoxically derives from the demand to recognize and engage with past injustice; namely, the ongoing historical effects of the Nakba. In Lifta, then, that which haunts underneath becomes a landscape for reconciliation – and a space from which future possibilities of reconciliation may be landscaped.

Andrew Gunstone, ‘Indigenous Stolen Wages and Campaigns for Reparations in Victoria’, Indigenous Law Bulletin 12, 8 (2013).

During most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Australian governments developed a number of practices that ensured they  and their agencies controlled the wages, savings and benefits of Indigenous people. Today, these practices are known as the stolen wages practices. They have substantially impacted upon generations of Indigenous people and have been referred to as ‘slavery’. Many Indigenous people throughout Australia never received the monies owed to them, due to government mismanagement and fraud. The overall amount of wages, savings and benefits owed to Indigenous peoples throughout Australia is extremely substantial. Ross Kidd noted that ‘in Queensland alone, it has been estimated that as much as $500 million in today’s value was lost or stolen from Indigenous families’. This short paper focuses specifically on stolen wages in Victoria. The paper is divided into three sections. Firstly it outlines the research that has been conducted on the history of stolen wages practices in Victoria and the impact of these practices on Indigenous Victorians. This section also briefly discusses the level of research conducted on stolen wages practices in other states and territories. Secondly, it looks at the general political campaigns for justice for those impacted by stolen wages that are being conducted in some states and territories before examining the campaign being run by Indigenous Victorians and their supporters in more depth. Finally, the paper looks at the reparation schemes to address the legacies of stolen wages developed by the New South Wales (‘NSW’),
Queensland (‘Qld’) and Western Australian (‘WA’) governments and the failure of the Victorian government to develop a Victorian reparation scheme.

Samantha Jeffries and Philip Stenning, ‘Sentencing, Aboriginal Offenders: Law, Policy, and Practice in Three Countries’, Journal Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice/La Revue canadienne de criminologie et de justice pénale 56, 4 (2014).

The statistical “over-representation” of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice systems (especially prisons) of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand is not disputed. Sentencing is often perceived as a point in the criminal justice system where, potentially, the problem of Aboriginal over-representation could be addressed. During the last 20 years there have been robust discussions in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as to whether (and if so how) Aboriginality should be taken into account in sentencing. Reviewing and comparing the trajectories of these debates within the three countries during the last 20 years, in terms of legislative provisions, court decisions, and innovative sentencing practices, suggests that although the problem of over-incarceration is viewed similarly, sentencing responses have varied between nations, but have been equally unsuccessful in actually reducing rates of Aboriginal imprisonment.

Georgine Clarsen, ‘Pedaling Power: Bicycles, Subjectivities and Landscapes in a Settler Colonial Society’, Mobilities (Published online: 08 Jul 2014).

Mobilities across contested terrains are key to the formation of settler societies. This paper explores how safety bicycles were drawn into the Australian settler project at the turn of the twentieth century, just as the six independent colonies were federating into the Commonwealth of Australia. As recently imported objects, bicycles afforded settler men unprecedented mobility across remote landscapes that had not been smoothed by the infrastructures of the ‘old world’. In those years of national formation, bicycles were received as objects that could fill ‘empty’ land with people, things, activities and stories, at the same time as they generated masculine, settler subjectivities. A practice approach to settler mobilities helps to tease out the entanglements between bicycle ‘overlanding’ and two fundamental imperatives of settlerism: transforming indigenous places into settler places and creating ‘nativised’ settler subjectivities.

Edward Cavanagh, Review of The promise of land: undoing a century of dispossession in South Africa, in Social Dynamics (Published online: 07 Jul 2014).

As it does in the wider scholarship on land reform, along with policy documents and variously coloured ANC “papers” on land reform, talk of “colonialism” and “dispossession” (etc.) emerges so oddly and inconsistently in this book as to fail in conveying to the reader any analytical or historical specificity. A more serious shortfall, this inconsistency will render the collection less valuable to social scientists who take seriously the historical specificity of social structures and regime change. A few examples will suffice to illustrate my point: we are told to remember and redress “colonial land dispossession,” although that is never defined, and in the complete absence of discussion of any elements of pre-nineteenth-century history, we might assume that the editors mean “dispossession of land during British crown administration”; we see “colonialism and apartheid” coupled often, and even “colonial and apartheid strategies,” and “colonial and apartheid legacy,” which are coupled, one can only assume, to imply that the latter superseded the former, though neither are explicitly defined; we are told to hope for “an effective decolonisation of land,” albeit even in a “postcolonial” African state; we are told that “colonialists,” even “colonialists and the architects of apartheid” fluttered across nineteenth and twentieth centuries, who, we are left to wonder, were either settlers, London officials, local administrators or some terrifying hybrid born in late-colonial Natal (seriously); we are told about “the settler–colonial state” and its specific land reform dilemmas, albeit not to incorporate Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America into the framework (states which are all entirely absent from the “global” approach), but to distinguish between certain sub-Zambezi African states from the rest of the continent; and one author (whom I do not name out of politeness) even demands we make the contrast between how things were “in the colonial days” with how they are amid “a new kind of colonialism” today because of “global imperialism,” neither temporally nor geographically distinguishing between what it is these terms convey beyond some kind a disjuncture taking place sometime between the nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century!

If I seem overly perplexed here, it is because the last two decades have witnessed an increasing scholarly concern with our analytical frameworks on these phenomena, highlighting, in particular, how important it is to distinguish between colonialism and settler colonialism. This school of thought, which transcends hemispheres, implicates, among other things, a more robust comparative methodology. Readers coming from a perspective which recognises the global nature of settler colonialism may consider it bizarre to pigeonhole South Africa within the southern African region, or the “South,” given that similar dispossessions have inspired similar statutory- and litigation-based mechanisms for redress in both hemispheres. In fairness, direct engagement with these debates is hardly necessary for a collection of this type, but the clarification of terminology and justification of grand categorisations, partially achievable by sending the contributors a universal glossary beforehand, is surely more so.


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