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A white minority in the national community
Ben Silverstein

were not aired; this was a meeting of protectors, not the protected. It brought together authorities from all the mainland states and the Northern Territory under the guidance of the Commonwealth Department for the Interior for what the Minister Thomas Paterson described as an ‘epoch-making event’, the first time all the authorities ‘controlling natives’ gathered to discuss Aboriginal ‘welfare’. 2 Robert Manne has located this Conference at the heart of his discussion of Australian genocide, quoting the Western Australian

in Governing natives
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Indirect rule and settler colonialism in Australia’s north
Author: Ben Silverstein

In the 1930s, a series of crises transformed relationships between settlers and Aboriginal people in Australia’s Northern Territory. This book examines archives and texts of colonial administration to study the emergence of ideas and practices of indirect rule in this unlikely colonial situation. It demonstrates that the practice of indirect rule was everywhere an effect of Indigenous or ‘native’ people’s insistence on maintaining and reinventing their political formations, their refusal to be completely dominated, and their frustration of colonial aspirations to total control. These conditions of difference and contradiction, of the struggles of people in contact, produced a colonial state that was created both by settlers and by the ‘natives’ they sought to govern.

By the late 1930s, Australian settlers were coming to understand the Northern Territory as a colonial formation requiring a new form of government. Responding to crises of social reproduction, public power, and legitimacy, they rethought the scope of settler colonial government by drawing on both the art of indirect rule and on a representational economy of Indigenous elimination to develop a new political dispensation that sought to incorporate and consume Indigenous production and sovereignties. This book locates Aboriginal history within imperial history, situating the settler colonial politics of Indigeneity in a broader governmental context. Australian settler governmentality, in other words, was not entirely exceptional; in the Northern Territory, as elsewhere, indirect rule emerged as part of an integrated, empire-wide repertoire of the arts of governing and colonising peoples.

Conflict and crisis, 1918–45
Ben Silverstein

Occupying administration Success eluded the Northern Territory in the first half of the twentieth century. In May 1936, a delegation of Northern Territory pastoralists met with the Minister for the Interior Thomas Paterson to express their dismay at the absence of development. Without substantial infrastructure improvements, they complained, it was impossible to turn a profit. They called for a government inquiry, one that would survey the resources of the Territory and draw up a development scheme that might ensure their

in Governing natives
Colonial transformations and a governmental event
Ben Silverstein

. This recognition, framed by his anthropological expertise, was characteristic of the colonising practice of indirect rule. But he was uncertain about its consequences. How could Aboriginal laws be incorporated into the government of the Northern Territory? Were there limits to the reach of settler legal force? These are questions that appear anomalous to today's observer. Though historians of Australia have turned in recent years to the study of legal pluralism, it has generally been supposed that questions of jurisdiction had largely been settled by what Lisa Ford

in Governing natives
Ben Silverstein

societies; and Payne and Fletcher's report on Northern Territory development and administration, which emphasised the importance of cheap black labour to pastoral-led development. McEwen considered these reports, and the problems of governing development and Aboriginal people, together. He embraced what were considered great national challenges and described himself as the ‘Pooh-Bah of the North’, celebrating the breadth of responsibility he had accrued in northern Australia. McEwen represented the interests of rural capital as well as a commitment to empire, and he

in Governing natives
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Anthropologising Aborigines
Ben Silverstein

or missing each time, before Dhaakiyarr threw his spear, killing him. 1 This brought to eight the number of intruders Yolngu in the Caledon or Blue Mud Bay region had killed in recent months. But killing an investigating policeman posed an ominous threat to settler law. The white population of the Northern Territory was shaken. Was settler sovereignty so precarious? Under what law were Yolngu people living? Could the remote reaches of the Territory be brought under white control? As most white Australians responded with a number of panicked initiatives, from

in Governing natives
The connected histories of Darwin and Singapore, 1860s–1930s
Claire Lowrie

in order to promote it as a free port like Singapore. 19 The ambition for Darwin to become a northern trading entrepôt was quite different to the plans for the inland regions of the Northern Territory where it was hoped that the tropical agricultural successes of India and the Dutch East Indies in coffee, sugar and cotton could be replicated. 20

in Masters and servants
The politics of Chinese domestic mastery, 1920s–1930s
Claire Lowrie

Many of us have had blackboys in our employ for years and have always treated them well and the boys do not want to leave us. This will work great hardship on us. 1 (Seven prominent Chinese storekeepers petitioning the acting Administrator of the Northern Territory, Samuel James Mitchell, to reverse the ban on

in Masters and servants
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Domestic service at the end of Empire
Claire Lowrie

’s takeover of the Northern Territory in 1911 marked a turning point in the history of the town. In addition to a strict adherence to the Immigration Restriction Act, the Commonwealth administration introduced policies of economic discrimination and racial segregation designed to transform the multiethnic township on the edge of Asia into a flourishing site of white Australian settlement. These policies changed

in Masters and servants
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The tense of citizenship
Ben Silverstein

Black men wandering and white men riding in a world without time where sons do not inherit, and money goes mouldy in the pocket, where ambition is wax melted in the sun, and those who sow may not reap. I write of the Northern Territory of Australia, problem child of empire, land of an ever–shadowed past and an ever–shining future, of eternal promise that never comes true. Ernestine Hill, The Territory , 1951 1

in Governing natives