A Higher Authority: Indigenous Transnationalism and by Ravi De Costa

By Ravi De Costa

This crucial booklet recovers the lengthy culture of indigenous transnationalism – touch with exterior humans, associations, rules – all through Australia’s background from prior to white payment to the current.

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The foremost of them, as soon as he got ahead of the boat, threw himself from a considerable height into the water. He struggled across the channel to the sandbank, HigherAuthority01 26/6/06 3:45 PM Page 27 Tr a n s n a t i o n a l i s m b e f o r e t h e n a t i o n - s t a t e 27 and in an incredibly short space of time stood in front of the savage against whom my aim had been directed. 36 Later, Sturt reflected on this and acknowledged the diplomacy that had underpinned his progress: They sent ambassadors forward regularly from one tribe to another, in order to prepare for our approach, a custom that not only saved us an infinity of time, but also great personal risk.

20 Some scholars have described the construction of boundaries in this type of society as ‘social boundary defence’. 21 This contrasts with ‘perimeter defence’, which involves the maintenance of a physical boundary around resource-laden territories. 23 Sutton argued that such principles shaped the ideal of indigenous encounters, noting that ‘reciprocity and balance, rather than an asymmetry between privileged permission-giver and importuning permission-requester, [were] the preferred tone of interactions on the subject of intervisitation’.

This chapter examines the conditions under which comparison and, more generally, transnational appeals to higher authority, were taken more seriously in discussions about indigenous Australians. Humanitarian values in the age of Empire The first alternative to the dominant rationale of colonisation came from those who attempted to infuse imperialism itself with a moral mission. Through the 19th century, the spread of the British Empire over the Australian colonies coincided with a global renewal of the Protestant faith.

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