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Return to Eden: Van Diemen's Land and the early British settlement of Australia


Boyce, James, Return to Eden: Van Diemen's Land and the early British settlement of Australia, Environment and History, 14, (2) pp. 289-307. ISSN 0967-3407 (2008) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2008 The White Horse Press

DOI: doi:10.3197/096734008X303773


Tasmania (formerly known as Van Diemenʼs Land) received approximately 72,000 convicts, mainly from the British Isles and Ireland, between 1803 and 1853, and convicts and their descendants formed the large majority of the population of the island colony throughout this time. This article focuses on the environmental experience of this unusual settler population especially in the first decades of settlement. It argues that, contrary to the dominant paradigm of Australian history, the new land was not experienced as a hostile or forbidding place, but a comparatively benign refuge from the brutality of servitude.

The argument is put that Australian environmental history has been distorted by a failure to recognise that the rigorous attempts to reproduce English society – social and environmental – were largely undertaken by a relatively small group of free settlers. The dramatically different experience of convict settlers demonstrates the importance of considering the extent to which socio-economic background shaped the environmental encounter.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Tasmania, Van Diemen's Land, convict settlement, hunting, historiography
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Boyce, James (Mr James Boyce)
ID Code:54293
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2009-02-16
Last Modified:2014-12-16
Downloads:9 View Download Statistics

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