Unearthing Barrow Island’s Past: The Historical Archaeology of Colonial-Era Exploitation, Northwest Australia

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Abstract

The “modern world” of recent centuries is characterized by colonialism and imperialism, greater instances of cultural encounter and competition, increasing global connectivity, and the enhanced movement of resources and people especially for their labor (Falk 1991; Orser 1996). Northwest Australia provides important insight into these elements of modernity, as a region where the capitalist production of resources for international markets followed British colonization and relied on forms of non-European labor, both Indigenous Australian and Asian. This paper describes Barrow Island in the Northwest Australian maritime desert where archaeological research at recently discovered historic settlements indicates the deliberate translocation of Aboriginal people to the island presumably by white pearlers. The sites provide new information regarding commercial extractive industries, particularly the colonial pearl fisheries and their multicultural and exploitative nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Historical Archaeology
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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