Conflicts over property at King George Sound
Ian Keen (Australian National University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper examines the relationship between accounts of conflict over property on the colonial frontier using a universalistic metalanguage, and the contrasting Aboriginal and British property concepts evident in records of the frontier of the Southwest. It explores the question whether universal concepts underly the differences.
Paper long abstract:
Certain accounts of conflict over property on colonial frontiers use a metalanguage that assigns similar values and motives to actors of radically different cultures. Anthropological approaches to property, however, tend to emphasise cultural differences. Are there universal concepts underlying property concepts across cultures, and if so how are they developed in contrasting institutional frameworks? The paper explores these issues with reference to conflicts over property recorded by Captain Collett Barker at King Georges Sound in the southwest of Western Australia, where Aboriginal people entered into exchange relations with the British garrison in the late 1820s. A key issue for Barker was 'trust'.