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Negotiating Education: The First School for Aboriginal Children and the Diplomatic World of Colonial New South Wales, 1814-1822

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The first school for Aboriginal children in New South Wales was entangled in the rise of Evangelicalism, missionary networks, the Sunday school and orphan school movements, and pedagogical debates arising from the industrial and ‘industrious’ revolutions. In this chapter, the role of this school in relationships between Aboriginal individuals, communities and the colonists is considered. What compelled Aboriginal parents to place their children in this great civilizing showpiece for the Governor in 1814? Why were some children placed in only to be taken out, and why were others left in the school? This paper suggests that the Native Institution was a key part of the world of diplomacy, strategy and the weighing of costs of benefit in relation to the colonists and the transforming social and cultural world of New South Wales. It also suggests that the school was part of a wider web of social relations and diplomacy in which the negotiation of different forms of child-rearing and the acquisition of colonial knowledge and skills were being negotiated, translated and often refused.

About the Speaker

Annemarie McLaren is an Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. She gained her PhD from the Australian National University in 2018 and is currently working on the book (tentatively) titled When the Strangers Came to Stay: Aboriginal-Colonial Exchanges and the Negotiation of New South Wales. She was awarded the 2017 Hakluyt Society Essay Prize and her work has appeared in Ethnohistory, Australian Historical Studies, and Aboriginal History. Later this year she takes up a short term fellowship at the Omohundro Institute of William and Mary College, Virginia.

Refreshments from 17.15 onward.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Education Society series.

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