Fragile Settlements: Aboriginal Peoples, Law, and Resistance in South-West Australia and Prairie Canada

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Fragile Settlements compares the processes by which colonial authority was asserted over Indigenous people in south-west Australia and prairie Canada from the 1830s to the early twentieth century. At the start of this period, there was an explosion of settler migration across the British Empire. In a humanitarian response to the unprecedented demand for land, Britain’s Colonial Office moved to protect Indigenous peoples by making them subjects under British law. This book highlights the parallels and divergences between these connected British frontiers by examining how colonial actors and institutions interpreted and applied the principle of law in their interaction with Indigenous peoples on the ground. Fragile Settlements questions the finality of settler colonization and contributes to ongoing debates around jurisdiction, sovereignty, and the prospect of genuine Indigenous-settler reconciliation in Canada and Australia.



Settler Colonialism and Its Legacies
1 British Law and Colonial Legal Regimes
2 The Foundations of Colonial Policing
3 Policing Aboriginal People on the Settler Frontier
Native Police Trackers and Scouts
5 Agents of Protection and Civilization
6 Aboriginal Peoples and Settlers in the Courts
7 Agents of the Church
9 Colonizing and Decolonizing the Past
Spaces of Indigenous and Settler Law
Index of Statutes Treaties Charters and Proclamations
Table of Reported Cases

Aboriginal Responses to Colonial Authority

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About the author (2016)

Amanda Nettelbeck is a professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide, Australia. She has published extensively on the history of the settler frontier and the colonial governance of Indigenous people. Her books co-authored with Robert Foster include Out of the Silence: The History and Memory of South Australia’s Frontier Wars and In the Name of the Law: William Willshire and the Policing of the Australian Frontier. Russell Smandych is a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba, Canada. He is a specialist in criminal justice and comparative British colonial legal history and has published extensively in these fields, including in Legal History, Law and History Review, Criminal Justice History: An International Annual, and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. Louis A. Knafla is a professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. He co-edited, with Haijo Westra, Aboriginal Title and Indigenous Peoples: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Some of his work on the history of the law in western Canada appeared in Laws and Societies in the Canadian Prairie West, 1670-1940 and in Law and Justice in a New Land: Essays in Western Canadian Legal History. Robert Foster is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He is a specialist in Australian Indigenous history and has written extensively on conflict between Aboriginal people and settlers on the Australian frontier, including in Journal of Australian Colonial History, History Australia, Aboriginal History and Australian Historical Studies.

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