Traffick of Empire: Trade, Treaty and Terra Nullius in Australia and North America, 1750-1800
It will be argued in this article that British colonial authorities in Australia employed a framework of concepts, ideas and assumptions then current in European thought in their efforts to translate the difference of the Indigenous inhabitants to the terms of European familiarity. This framework was also buttressed by a previous extensive experience of colonial diplomacy and trade in North America. By drawing on these intellectual and experiential sources, colonisers in Australia sought to represent the Indigenous inhabitants as 'savage'- lacking their own property rights or sovereignty. Some historians in Australia have focussed most attention on the concepts of legal thought - notably terra nullius- in seeking to explain the colonial dispossession of Indigenous peoples. A more potent if long neglected source for this dispossession, I argue, lies in the ways that Europeans thought about and practiced trade or 'traffick'.
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