Colonialism and its Aftermath

Empire, Humanitarianism and Non-violence in the Colonies

Empire, Humanitarianism and Non-violence in the Colonies

23-24 April 2014 University of Tasmania, Hobart

There is now a burgeoning scholarship at the intersection of new imperialism and the history of humanitarianism. Scholars have not only pointed to the continuing need to historicise humanitarian developments, but, importantly, argued for more consideration of humanitarian developments outside of Europe and the 'Third World.' The diverse forms of imperial humanitarian history in colonised regions such as Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and North America demand attention. The reassessment of entrenched understandings of the development of humanitarianism as originating from an 'anti-slavery mother' and 'European battlefield father', as Alan Lester has recently argued, allows us to take account of the distinctive and formative experiences of settler/coloniser environments, where humanitarians observed, witnessed, and sought to ameliorate various forms of violence in new colonies and unruly frontiers.

This symposium seeks to explore the genealogies of non-violence and humanitarianism in the colonies. While we are primarily interested in Anglophone settler colonies, we are open to proposals focussing on other colonial sites. With a focus on transnational networks and travel, the symposium will explore the experiences and impact of humanitarians from the late eighteenth to twentieth centuries who sought to ameliorate various forms of colonial violence and/or engage in anti-colonial and humanitarian activities. We are particularly interested in exploring the various conceptualisations of colonial violence by humanitarians; their accounts 'on the ground' and assessment of such violence both epistemological and physical; their appeals, strategies and interventions to arrest violence and protect subjects of violence; and local and transnational protests against violence. It is also crucial to examine situations when Protectors and others could also be implicated in or oversee various forms of violence. Equally important are the experiences of humanitarianism's recipients – indigenous peoples, enslaved and convicted peoples and other unfree labourers – and their political engagement with or refutations of colonial humanitarian endeavours.

Keynote speakers:
Assoc. Professor Elizabeth Elbourne, McGill University, Canada. 'Humanitarian activism, moral imperialism and the question of violence: Three case studies from colonial battlegrounds, 1770s-1840s'
Professor Tony Ballantyne, University of Otago, New Zealand. 'Moving texts: Materiality, mobility, and the emotions of imperial humanitarianism'

Public lecture, 6pm Wed 23 April:
Assoc. Professor Sean Scalmer, University of Melbourne. 'Gandhi and the humanitarians of Empire: A genealogy of nonviolence.'
Dechaineaux Lecture Theatre, Centre for the Arts Building, Hunter St.

Online symposium registration is now open.

Download the program.

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Please direct any queries about the Symposium to in the first instance.

Assoc. Professor Penelope Edmonds and Assoc. Professor Anna Johnston. This symposium forms part of the Australian Research Council funded Future Fellowship project 'Reform in the Antipodes: Quaker Humanitarians, Imperial Journeys and Early Histories of Human Rights' led by Penelope Edmonds. It is organised by the Centre for Colonialism and Its Aftermath, and the History and Classics program, University of Tasmania.
Julie Gough "She Was Sold" 2007

Julie Gough "She was sold for one guinea" 2007
Found beaded decoration and book on wooden shelf
12 x 13.5 x 20 cm