Imperial spaces

Placing the Irish and Scots in Colonial Australia

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.

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