Protecting Tasmanian Aborigines: American and Queensland influences on the Cape Barren Island Reserve Act, 1912
Harman, K, Protecting Tasmanian Aborigines: American and Queensland influences on the Cape Barren Island Reserve Act, 1912, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41, (5) pp. 744-764. ISSN 0308-6534 (2013) [Refereed Article]
Early twentieth-century Tasmanian discourses about racial difference reflected transimperial connections between England, its colonies, and the United States. This globalised discourse and ideological interconnectedness in turn produced recognisably and intentionally similar policies, although historians bounded by the interests of later nation-states have tended to overlook this. Tasmania’s Cape Barren Island Reserve Act 1912 exemplifies how a particular colony’s ideology and policy, while attuned to local conditions and particularities,
was nonetheless a product of an international framework for regulating the
colonised. This legislation was demonstrably modelled on Aboriginal protection legislation passed in the Australian state of Queensland in 1897 and has significant commonalities with the Dawes Act passed in the United States in 1887 to provide for the subdivision of Indian reservations. In Australian historiography, the fact that Tasmania had an Aboriginal reserve and enacted Aboriginal protection legislation has been under-appreciated and even denied. This article redresses these omissions. It also contributes towards redressing
the myopic focus on nation and/or colony that has, until recent years, left Australian historiography devoid of a full appreciation of colonial dependence on, and contributions to, a global discourse of race.