Accepted paper:

The Emergence of Australian Settler Capitalism in the 19th Century and the Disintegration/Integration of Aboriginal Societies: Hybridization and Local Evolution Within the World Market


Christopher Lloyd (University of New England)

Paper short abstract:

An examination of Aboriginal-Settler capitalist convergence in colonial contexts in Australia that explores the usefulness and applicability of 'hybridity' through several examples of 'frontier' economic structures.

Paper long abstract:

Australian settler capitalism emerged under the tutelage of the British state within its geopolitical and capitalist dynamics in the early 19th Century. The landmass of Australia was 'cleared' of impediments to pastoral and other extractive capitalism and the Aboriginal inhabitants were marginalised and decimated. But the great barrier to unfettered capitalist accumulation within the settler mode of production was that of labour, as Wakefield and Marx understood. Labour was far from homogenous and the search for suitable supplies roamed across the world. Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Australians managed to remain as a living presence in the frontier districts and recent research and understanding is rediscovering the hybrid local economic forms that emerged in many places, often in the interstices of the settler world and in an uneasy oppositional alliance with local settler communities. Aboriginal people supplied labour and developed other economic relations with settlers in many places. This paper examines some of this recent research and writing and develops an argument about how these hybrid local economic formations were able to emerge and survive within the expanding world market of the 19th Century. This new account has important resonances for contemporary debates about the nature of 19th and 20th Century settler capitalism in Australia and the place of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

panel P27
Indigenous participation in Australian frontier economies