Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History

Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History

Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History

Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History

Synopsis

Colonial Genocide has been seen increasingly as a stepping-stone to the European genocides of the twentieth century, yet it remains an under-researched phenomenon. This volume reconstructs instances of Australian genocide and for the first time places them in a global context. Beginning with the arrival of the British in 1788 and extending to the 1960s, the authors identify the moments of radicalization and the escalation of British violence and ethnic engineering aimed at the Indigenous populations, while carefully distinguishing between local massacres, cultural genocide, and genocide itself. These essays reflect a growing concern with the nature of settler society in Australia and in particular with the fate of the tens of thousands of children who were forcibly taken away from their Aboriginal families by state agencies. Long considered a relatively peaceful settlement, Australian society contained many of the pathologies that led to the exterminatory and eugenic policies of twentieth century Europe.

Excerpt

This book was conceived in early 2000 when I arrived in Australia to take up a post at the University of Sydney. In proposing a new course on comparative genocide, I discovered that I could not prescribe my students a book on genocide in Australia: such a book did not exist (in 2001, Henry Reynolds presented his analysis of the subject in An Indelible Stain?: The Question of Genocide and Australian History). At the same time, a lively and at times acrimonious academic and public debate was underway about the topic. Since 1997, it has revolved around past government policies of “removing” Indigenous children of mixed Aboriginal/European descent from their families, ostensibly to “rescue” them from barbarism. In 2000, the genocide controversy turned to frontier conflict in the nineteenth century, which has been the subject of intense research since the 1970s.

Genocide and Settler Society presents recent research on both subjects. The first section, “Conceptual and Historical Determinants,” introduces readers unfamiliar with Australian history and genocide studies to the relevant theoretical issues and factual context. The next two sections contain four chapters each on various aspects of frontier violence and stolen Indigenous children, mainly in Australia. Because of the enduring and massive presence of the Holocaust in debates on genocide in Australia and elsewhere, the series editor Omer Bartov thought it appropriate to include a chapter on the relationship between the Holocaust and colonialism, and another on the Nazi policies of removing Slavic children deemed to possess “good Aryan blood” from their families and settling them in Germany. Readers can judge for themselves how relevant these cases are for Australia. At least now they can refer to the latest findings by two outstanding, young German historians.

Genocide studies is a burgeoning field of research. Understandably, it has focused on the enormities of twentieth century . . .

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