Land and Colonial Cultures
In and around the Pacific during the nineteenth century, vast acres of
land was rapidly transformed from being Indigenous to settler spaces. The process created  various
conditions of possession and dispossession

Land and Colonial Cultures is an Australian Research Council's Discovery Project (DP120104928) being undertaken at La Trobe University. It started in mid-2012, had a baby-related suspension for 2013, and is due to end in 2016.
   
Essentially, research for the project is exploring the means by which land was appropriated from Indigenous peoples in and around the Pacific and re-imagined and reconfigured by settlers as private property. The pace with which this happened accelerated with unprecedented speed in the late 19th century. In the anglophone 'settler' colonies of the Pacific—including Australia, New Zealand, Hawai’i and Fiji—vast acres of land transformed from Indigenous to settler spaces despite treaties, cession and the like.

We already have a good understanding of the  legal and social distinctiveness that defines the Pacific's various english-speaking colonies. What we know less about, however, are the transnational connections that might have linked and shaped them over time.

This project's aims are: 
 
  • Research and track the physical and intellectual transnational links and discourses produced in varied strategies of dispossession;
  • Explore the little-known counter discourses used by Indigenous peoples across extensive regions as they sought to identify and explain their rights in land;
  • Identify the ways colonial tenures in the anglophone settler colonies of the Pacific became stable despite turbulent settings;
  • Develop national and international collaboration and the dissemination of research between scholars, and scholars and the wider community. 
  •  

Research for Land and Colonial Cultures is therefore tracing these links, and especially the way ideas of possession and dispossession travelled along  transimperial circuits that connected the Indigenous and non-Indigenous Pacific.

Findings will give us insight into the ways each new encounter shaped the next across both time and space. So too we will see how conversations about land between settlers and Indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, Hawai’i and Fiji shaped radically new landscapes of ownership.

Its outcomes will also illuminate the shared history of this region, while enhancing the historical foundations on which we must continue to face postcolonial tensions over land.
 
If you're intereseted in finding out more, take a quick look at the background and significance section, stay up to date with news here, and chase up some of the project's publications .