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Empire by TreatyNegotiating European Expansion, 1600-1900$
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Saliha Belmessous

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391783.001.0001

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The Tradition of Treaty Making in Australian History

The Tradition of Treaty Making in Australian History

Chapter:
(p.186) 8 The Tradition of Treaty Making in Australian History
Source:
Empire by Treaty
Author(s):

Saliha Belmessous

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391783.003.0008

This chapter shows that, in early colonial Australia, treaties were considered a serious legal instrument to address the rights of Aboriginal peoples. British authorities had justified their taking of Australia by describing it as waste land in need of a taker. Dispossession amplified British anxieties over the ethics of colonization. Yet individuals in Britain and Australia acknowledged indigenous ownership of the land and forcefully argued that the rule of law, not dispossession, should lead British expansion. Concluding treaties with indigenous peoples was central to the rule of law. These individuals managed to influence public affairs, most notably during the settlement of South Australia where provisions were made to reserve some land for indigenous peoples. Although interest in treaties waned by the end of the 1840s, the reemergence of the debate in the 1970s shows that the question of Aboriginal consent to the taking of their land remains unresolved.

Keywords:   British Empire, Australia, Aboriginal peoples, treaties, dispossession, ethics, Batman treaty, consent

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