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 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.
cultural identities created by imperial practice, 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 colonialidentityformation. Modern historical geographies of
colonialism, on the other hand, have long acknowledged this, but have
yet to consider its implications for settler