'Does the British flag mean nothing to us?'

British democratic traditions and Aboriginal rights claims in interwar Australia

Alison Holland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The connection between Aboriginal people and the British Crown is well established. Less understood is their appreciation of, and reliance on, British democratic traditions in their politics. Drawing on the archive of Aboriginal activist, William Cooper, this article explores the way he used the language and practices associated with British democracy to advance his political claims in interwar Australia. With Protestant Christianity, Britishness represented a cluster of values and attributes which Cooper claimed as the Aborigines’ own. In drawing on an ‘imperial ideology of democracy’, he was part of a global black political renaissance characteristic of the times demanding justice, freedom and representation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Volume50
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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