This book takes two of the most influential minority groups of white settlers in the British Empire—the Irish and the Scots—and explores how they imagined themselves within the landscapes of its farthest reaches, the Australian colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. Using letters and diaries as well as records of collective activities such as committee meetings, parades and dinners, it examines how the Irish and Scots built new identities as settlers in the unknown spaces of Empire. Utilizing critical geographical theories of ‘place’ as the site of memory and agency, the book considers how Irish and Scots settlers grounded their sense of belonging in the imagined landscapes of south-east Australia. Emphasizing the complexity of colonial identity formation and the ways in which this was spatially constructed, it challenges conventional understandings of the Irish and Scottish presence in Australia. The opening chapters locate the book's themes and perspectives within a survey of the existing historical and geographical literature on empire and diaspora. These pay particular attention to the ‘new’ imperial history and to alternative transnational and ‘located’ understandings of diasporic consciousness. Subsequent chapters work within these frames and examine the constructions of place evinced by Irish and Scottish emigrants during the outward voyage and subsequent processes of pastoral and urban settlement, and in religious observance.
This chapter describes the ways Scots and Irish migrant mentalités were constructed on board ship during the outward voyage to Australia. It concentrates on the interplay between the performance of Scots and Irish passenger identities within the semiotic shipboard spaces and the temporal and spatial shifts identified by Alexander McNeill and William Lyall. Hassam argues that voyage diaries were much more than simply passive records of events. They were cultural performances which sustained the emigrants' sense of identity during the time-space shifts inherent in the voyage. McMahon Glynn incorporated casual racism into his narrative of the voyage, where it gave colour to his account of socially performed place. McNeill was a prime example of Prentis' ‘taken-for granted Scottishness’. The diaries and journals that do survive suggest that social status and ethnicity elided in complex ways to form ambiguous and nuanced spaces that were performed as place on board.
This chapter explores the extent of Scottish and Irish involvement in the pastoral geographies that were the mainstay of the Australian economy until the gold rushes of the 1850s and which remained of considerable importance thereafter. It compares the legislative framework that provided the basis for this pastoral exploitation with contemporary Scottish and Irish land legislation. The triumph of pastoralism in south-east Australia appeared complete by the 1840s. The major Irish Land Acts of 1870, 1881, 1885 and 1903, undermined the economic basis of the landlord class. The Banner maintained its qualified support for Charles Gavin Duffy's Land Act in the face of mounting press criticism of the Act's failure to prevent squatters from consolidating their existing runs in the areas opened for selection, or speculators from amassing lands there. In Ireland and Scotland, similar legislation invoked differing claims to ethnic authenticity and political legitimacy.
This chapter investigates the four narratives of place which exemplify the complex and ambiguous environmental, racial, social and ethnic semiotics that inflected the pastoral cartographies created by Scots and Irish squatters in Victoria and New South Wales. Charles Fetherstonhaugh, James Hamilton and William Moodie wrote autobiographies celebrating Australia's pioneering era and their role in it. It is apparent that for some squatters, the indigenous presence formed a disquieting element within their colonial present. Acts of enclosure such as those by Patrick Coady Buckley created a new and, for settlers, arguably universal vocabulary of landscape. Scottish architecture offers firmer grounds on which to establish deliberate invocations of ethnic memory. Each squatter's engagement with the physical landscape depended upon cognitive behaviour and environmental learning that were equally subjective. The place meanings enacted in the pastoral landscapes of Victoria and New South Wales by Irish and Scottish squatters were characteristically ambiguous.
This chapter explores the aspects of the contested place meanings that were attached to Belfast, Kiama, Kilmore and Stawell as part of the urban process of colonial foundation. The narratives presented bear witness to the discursively bounded localism of Scottish and Irish colonial urban experience. Urban plans and morphology gave physical shape to the acts of colonial discourse. The inclusive colonial presentism and exclusive ethnic memory played their part in the civic performance of places. The narratives of place and identity offered by the Orange Order in Stawell were publicly contested on at least one occasion. Nineteenth-century Australian towns, including Belfast (Port Fairy), Kiama, Kilmore and Stawell, were sites where the white colonial self found expression through agency, memory and identity. The narratives of urban place performed in Belfast, Kiama, Kilmore and Stawell were as varied as the people themselves.
This chapter investigates the ways in which Irish and Scots place identities were mediated through discursive religious practice. It also addresses the nature of the religious networks which linked the major Irish and Scots denominations throughout the Empire. The policy of fostering Irish clericalism within the Catholic Church in Australia constituted one discursive network linking Australia and Ireland with other parts of the Empire. Churches were among the most important of all focal points for communities. Churches and other buildings attracted meanings that continuously changed according to time and circumstance. The Irish Catholic Church's transformation under the leadership of Cardinal Cullen privileged explicit missionary enterprise. Religious sites of the sort described here constituted an important part of the ever changing mosaic of semiotic meaning inscribed as place in the Australian landscape by hegemonic and subaltern groups in the white migration stream.
This chapter argues for increasing recognition of the diversity of the white presence during modern Australia's foundational narrative and for the complex place narratives created by subaltern settler groups as they imbued the landscape with their own sense of self. Place was central to Irish and Scottish diasporic experience. The ethnic diversity of the nineteenth-century British and Irish migration stream to Australia added hitherto under-regarded cultural complexity to the hegemonic white presence on that continent. The Irish migration stream contained various ethnic traditions claiming descent from different periods in the country's history in a complex mix of religion, culture, language and genetics. Churches of all denominations became places where diasporic identities were continuously redefined. Colonial settlement in Victoria and New South Wales was the outcome of individual and collective understanding and aspiration informed by memory and experience.
This book addresses the complex interplay between settler identities, colonial practice, time and space. It provides a place-centred analysis of settler colonialism as ethnicised ‘white’ experience of the discursive and the local. The case is argued in the context of the so-called Second British Empire, specifically the settler colonies that were created in Australia, as they were in Canada, Aotearoa/New Zealand and South Africa, during the nineteenth century. The historiographical contexts for the place-based approach to settler identities are addressed. Finally, an overview of the chapters included in this book is given. It explores the evidence for ethnicity and other markers of identity within place narratives performed by Scots and Irish settlers en route to and within colonial south-east Australia.
This chapter explores the recent historical and geographical literature on empire and colonialism. It argues that the historical literature has remained largely immune to the idea that different social and cultural constructions of space and place might play an instrumental role in colonial identity formation. In particular, it examines the encounter between postcolonial theory and British imperial history per se. The complex intimacies between race, gender and representation have long been common currency in the new imperial history of the non-white empire. Various studies have pointed to the power and tenacity of the subjective colonial geographies created and sustained by different imperial claims to truth. The new imperial history remains remarkably immune to the seductive charms of geography's irredentist claims concerning the inherent spatiality of the human condition. Ethnic performances were integral to some at least of the settler place-narratives created by the Irish and Scots.
This chapter describes how the competing ideas of diaspora might inform the understanding of Irish and Scottish overseas settlement within the Empire and elsewhere. It also investigates recent representations of Irish and Scottish settlement in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. The changing narratives of place constructed by Irish and Scottish emigrants and their descendants reflected the strength of each individual's continuing sense of origin as part of their evolving diasporic selfhood. Recent scholarship has emphasised the limited sense of ethnic solidarity displayed by Irish communities. The image of the enterprising, pioneering Scot may well have been a necessary myth of empire. Patrick O'Farrell's emphasis on the importance of place in the construction of human identity closely resembles our own, save in its overwhelming essentialism. The flows of ideas, information, people, goods and capital which articulated the Empire continuously transformed the geographical contexts within which places were imagined and enacted.