Arrested in St Peter's: Anthony Martin Fernando, Aboriginal Australia and Fascist Italy
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This article concerns the protest of an Aboriginal Australian man, Anthony Martin Fernando, who during an international gathering of Rome Catholics in the Jubilee year of 1925 handed out flyers outside St Peter's Cathedral in Rome. By protesting against conditions for Aboriginal people in Australia, Fernando brought the question of settler colonialism in Australia directly and in person to the Roman Catholic community arriving from around the world. Where the Vatican's ethnographic exhibition of that year rehearsed the more usual representation of injustices towards Australia's indigenous people as integral to an unruly nineteenth-century colonial frontier, Fernando aimed to link Australian settler colonialism with the British world in the present - a world he characterized as yet to be brought to account for its actions towards colonized peoples, particularly the Aborigines of Australia. The audacity of that protest, as well as the literal presence of an Aboriginal man living by himself on the streets of interwar Europe, forces us to reconsider Aboriginal Australian activism in the twentieth century. It requires firstly a more genuinely transnational account of the history of indigenous politics in Australia, and secondly a more dynamic account of the diversity of often-ephemeral forms of black political activism carried out within and beyond colonial settings in the modern era.
Cultural and Social History
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History