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Writing the Southern Cross: Religious Travel Writing in Nineteenth-Century Australasia


Johnston, A, Writing the Southern Cross: Religious Travel Writing in Nineteenth-Century Australasia, Travel Writing in the Nineteenth Century: Filling the Blank Spaces, Anthem Press, Tim Youngs (ed), London, United Kingdom, pp. 201-218. ISBN 1-84331-218-2 (2006) [Research Book Chapter]

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In November 1824, the Reverend Daniel Tyerman wrote from Sydney to fellow religious men in Britain extolling the opportunities that Australia and the Pacific region offered. The region, he enthused, will 'form an interesting branch of the Missionary Tree which is growing - and flourishing - and stretching its branches over the whole Earth - and the leaves of it, are for the healing of the Nations'. As late eighteenth-century additions to Britain's imperial fold, the Pacific Islands and Australian colonies seemed to Tyerman to sit at the nexus of imperial and evangelical interests. Despite the fluid and defacto colonial relations between the Islands and Britain, and the unpromising penal origins of the Southern continent, the region offered missionaries and their supporters a whole new field of evangelical activity, particularly when conceived as a geographical totality. This Southern part of the gospel alongside British enterprise, a zone where Protestantism seemed assured of unimpeded access to virgin territory, territory that was not also being claimed by Catholicism. The Southern Cross constellation, which emblazoned the Southern skies, seemed a prophetic metaphor for the spread of religion and empire under British Protestant guidance. This chapter examines the contribution that religious travel writing about nineteenth-century Australasia made to British understandings of the region. For many Britons, the region was fascinating precisely because it offered an alternative to Christian European values. But religious communities made their interest in the region clear from early on. Religious travellers and their texts sought to recast Australasia as a moral landscape, one about which missionaries and religious Britons had authoritative and authentic knowledge. Uncomfortably associated with imperial expansion, heavily imbued with evangelical fervour and embedded in white, Christian superiority, such writing reveals the complex construction of Australasia in the British imaginary.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Globalisation and culture
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Johnston, A (Associate Professor Anna Johnston)
ID Code:42450
Year Published:2006
Deposited By:English, Journalism and European Languages
Deposited On:2006-08-01
Last Modified:2012-09-26
Downloads:72 View Download Statistics

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