In the Shadow of the Crown: Exiles in the “Unknown Land of the South”

Köse M.

METU ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY GRADUATE SYMPOSIUM 12 Spaces / Times / Peoples: “Dispossession” and Architectural History, Ankara, Turkey, 24 December 2021

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Ankara
  • Country: Turkey
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


In the Shadow of the Crown: Exiles in the “Unknown Land of the South”

When Botany Bay today Sydney, was proposed as a new penal colony for England at the end of the 18th century, Australia was a hypothetical island featured on maps or journals. Although there were native inhabitants, the island claimed to be ‘nobody's land’ and offered as a place for convicts of British Empire. Since the first landing in 1778, the dynamics of the island have changed forever. British colonialism, which firstly started with the transportation of criminals then continued with the 'White Australia' policy after the establishment of Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, has caused the dramatic decrease in the native population and the fast increase in the European population. As it can be expected, the changes were not solely due to the number of population, it also reflected as spatial and social transformations. The newly arrived British demanded lands inhabited by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to establish colonies, but these two communities were very different than each other in terms of language and culture. As a result of this, conflicts increased between them, Indigenous people were massacred by Europeans, incarcerated, and forcibly displaced from their customary land. Most of the natives were segregated from other immigrant Australians and relocated to missions and reserves. While the first settlements of the island for colonies were shaped by the movements of European explorers, convicts, and immigrants, and took English names, none of these settlements were actually related to the organically formed Aboriginal settlements. This study aims to focuses on dispossession of the island's indigenous peoples, who have been displaced, exiled, and depopulated, either consciously or unknowingly, particularly in the 19th century. The multi-layered structure of Australia will be revealed by considering the organic settlements of the local people who firstly resisted to the invaders but whose efforts still resulted in resettling in the inlands of the island, then gradually faded away over the years, together with the regular and strict settlements of the British who appropriate the island and whose settlements surrounded the region in the same time period. Thus, the study aims to focus on the spatial reflections of this dislocation in the 19th century, while also expose the socio-political reasons which caused the displacement of native Australians.

Keywords: Aboriginal Australians, native Australians, British colonialism, Aboriginal settlements, penal colony