"This thesis examines a range of narratives that were adopted by two British philanthropists during the 1820s and 1830s in order to cope with the suffering and pain caused by colonisation in Van Diemen's Land. Of all the confrontations between settler and indigenous peoples in Britain's far flung empire, only in Vna Diemen's Land was the immediate mortality rate of the Aboriginal population so high that government officials had to acknowledge openly that British colonisation might hasten, if not bring about the annihilation of a distinct race. Van Diemen's Land thus provides an ideal historical location in which to study how the prospect of British failure to protect Aboriginal people was confronted and handled by philanthropic Britons. Previous histories of British benevolence have often pointed to Van Diemen's Land as an exemplary case of failure, but few have questioned how philanthropists within the colony grappled with this themselves. In this thesis I consider not only how the prospect of failure was tackled but what it actually meant. In order to grasp what failure had signified to these Britons and how they handled this, we must start with the more important task of comprehending how they constucted their project in the first place. The central argument being put forward is that the British project of saving indigenous populations was intimately connected to, and perhaps even indivisible from, a concern for an ideal conception of Britishness and the salvation of the British sinners engaged in frontier warfare.
At its core, therefore, this thesis looks at what lay at the very heart of British philanthropy as it was pursued in colonies such as Van Diemen's Land. The voices of Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur and his associate George Augustus Robinson animate my work and lie at its heart. These men are more often regarded as central characters in the tragedy which befell Aboriginal Tasmanians, but here I argue that they had positioned themselves as important witnesses to, and as narrators for, this important episode in British colonial history. Examining the shifting discourses of these men in their public and private writings, this thesis attempts to undestand what became of their redemptive hopes for colonisation in Van Diemen's Land at the point when these visions were threatened by the British failure to protect the Tasmanians. The solutions Arthur and Robinson endeavoured to find in the stories they told in the face of such failure are explored in detail not only for their intended effect, but also for what these reveal about the wider influences acting Arthur and Robinson as they narrated the progress of Aboriginal extinction in the colony."--Summary, p. i.
Summary: p. i.
Principal supervisors: Bain Attwood and Mark Peel.
Thesis (M.A.)--Monash University, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -147)
Also available in microfiche format (3 microfiches : negative) ; MOUN 13289.
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