Kirsty Reid
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Sodomy and self-government
Convict transportation and colonial independence
in Gender, crime and empire
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From 1844 onwards, growing numbers of colonists began to put pressure on London to abolish the convict system and to grant colonial self-government. Colonial opposition to convict transportation was waged in the language of extreme moral outrage. Abolitionists deployed a highly charged, sensationalising and explicitly sexualised discourse of bodily excess, corporeal degradation and moral devastation. The abolitionist focus upon 'unnatural' crimes undoubtedly served a range of mobilising and propagandising purposes. The campaign for the abolition of transportation had thus become linked increasingly to the movement for colonial self-government. As the antithesis of self-government, sodomy figured both as a powerful condemnation of tyranny and as a symbol of man's potential for 'savagery'. Sexual acts such as sodomy and bestiality were considered 'unspeakable' by the nineteenth century. Given that the 1832 Reform Act had systematically reconstituted claims to political power around notions of masculine independence and morality.

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Gender, crime and empire

Convicts, settlers and the state in early colonial Australia


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