On the challenges of settling in a plagued world: William Cavert, ‘At the Edge of an Empire: Plague, State and Identity in New Caledonia, 1899–1900’, Journal of Pacific History, 2016
Abstract: This paper examines colonial discourses on race, environment and global identity that arose during an outbreak of bubonic plague in the French Pacific settler colony of New Caledonia between December 1899 and April 1900. The outbreak of plague brought to the forefront colonial anxieties over living on the periphery of empire, definitions of what it meant to be white, the health menace posed by peoples the dominant colonial society categorised as non- white, and the danger the plague posed to the salubrious island environment that had just begun to attract free settlement after the end of the penal colony four years previously. These discourses were linked by the threat, real and imagined, posed by the bubonic plague, intersecting with the ambiguous place held by the outlying colony within the webs of a modern global commercial community and the Pacific world.
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