Postcolonial thinking has offered 'new imperial' historians productive avenues to reconsider the relationship between nineteenth-century liberalism and the British Empire. Questions of territory and sovereignty have, however, often been seen as secondary in these new histories of the citizen-subject of liberalism. From an Antipodean perspective, this seems a remarkable elision. Through an examination of the ideas of liberals in colonial Victoria, this article explores whether we might consider sovereignty as a ghost in the machine of everyday liberalism and asks whether these questions should remain safely on the imperial margins. Drawing on theorisations of settler-colonialism that have emerged in Antipodean historical research, this article proposes to read the political subject of the mid-nineteenth-century liberal imagination as both effecting and an effect of sovereignty.
- settler colonialism