School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Research Publications

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    James Stirling, first governor of Western Australia and imperial investor
    Arnott, G (Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery Project in collaboration with National Centre for Biography, 2021-03-18)
    Admiral James Stirling arrived on Noongar land in 1829 to proclaim it the British colony of Western Australia. Officially, he represented the British government. Unofficially, he represented the commercial interests of his family, a collection of British naval officers, East India Company administrators and directors, imperial merchants, shipping magnates, their wives and their descendants. Stirling pursued the colony as an investment opportunity, first with the Colonial Office and then through land selections, the manipulation of market conditions and private capital-raising schemes. This pursuit was shaped by three, interrelated social phenomena. Firstly, numerous strands of his family had become wealthy through transatlantic and Caribbean slavery. Secondly, British government incentives for establishing a colony on the western side of Australia strengthened at the same time as it was shifting away from the ‘slave colonies’ and certain forms of unfree labour. And third, this shift placed pressure on the Stirling family to secure new income streams to maintain affluence and power. This seminar will explore these dynamics and ask: in what ways does the intergenerational biographical method expand and enliven, or alternatively risk reducing, our understanding of the legacies of British slavery in the Australian settler colonies?
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    National Biographies and Transnational Lives: legacies of British slavery across the empire
    Laidlaw, Z ; Arnott, G (Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery Project in collaboration with National Centre for Biography, 2021-04-01)
    Britain’s involvement in the slave trade and slavery affected the lives and fortunes of many nineteenth-century immigrants to the Australian colonies. Some transferred capital directly from plantation economies to newly burgeoning settler colonial societies; for others, the connections were more diffuse. As historians have shown, the Australian colonies provided individual immigrants with an opportunity to refashion their existing reputations or even create them afresh. At the same time, collective colonial and settler identities were asserted in cultural, social, economic and political fora. This seminar explores dictionaries of biography as sites for the mutual constitution of individual and national (or colonial) identities. Alongside a consideration of how slavery and the slavery business feature in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Biographical Dictionary of Western Australians, it explores how Britain and its other settler colonies remembered, forgot, or suppressed, the legacies of British slavery in their national biographical dictionaries.