Irish women, Aboriginal people, and the law in colonial Australia: race, power and the struggle for inclusion

Trevor McClaughlin, Libby Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This essay describes a research project under way that will provide a social history of the law based on the experiences and interaction of indigenous Australians and Irish women with the law in nineteenth-century Australia. There are a number of reasons for choosing these two groups. The colonial state and society often saw them as 'problems'. Irish women and Aboriginal people were 'present' throughout the whole of the colonial period and therefore represent 'constants' in the Australian colonial experience.They also provide raw material for some interesting comparisons and contrasts in the way the law worked both as an agency of repression and as an instrument of protection for the powerless. Equally, they can provide insights into the complexities of colonialism in a settler society, the ways in which minorities and individuals were able to use the law to protect themselves, and how those in authority regularly reinvented racial and ethnic stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian journal of Irish studies
Volume4
Issue number2004
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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