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Grease and ochre : the blending of two cultures at the Tasmanian colonial sea frontier


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Cameron, P 2008 , 'Grease and ochre : the blending of two cultures at the Tasmanian colonial sea frontier', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis interrogates the social, cultural and economic dynamics of European
and Aboriginal relationships as they unfolded at the colonial sea frontier of
Tasmania, spanning a period 1798 to 1830. It argues that the sealers were not a
homogenous group of men by character, motivation, or description. Nor were
they the primary cause for the demise of the Aboriginal clans along the northeast
coast. It also identifies that there was not a homogenous group of clanswomen in
role and status, nor were the clanswomen treated as slaves. The thesis finds that
the movement of women to the Bass Strait islands was through reciprocal
exchange agreements between clansmen and Straitsmen, and both were equally
responsible for the repercussions of these decisions. It highlights that the great
majority of clanswomen who went to the islands were willing participants in this
culturally-based barter system, and they became the resource managers and
initiators of the small-island mixed economy.
The thesis rewrites the history of contact relations over the period of three
decades and locates the point in time when two cultures collide, fracture, and
blend. It remaps northeast territorial placescapes and realigns the connection
between the neighbouring lands. It also redefines the timelines from initial social
contacts to the fracturing of alliances between the Straitsmen and clanspeople of
the northeast lands, thereby redressing former assumptions in the literature.
The research is influenced by the plethora of recycled and sensationalised
literary works that to date lack revision and nuance. The orthodox accounts are
not fully accurate with a majority remaining silent to the voices of the people
whose lives were embedded in this period. This thesis endeavours to fill the gaps in the literature that have distorted colonial sea frontier history, and endeavours to
fill these silences. The thesis has been influenced and shaped by close reading of
available sources. It reads between the lines, and in doing so discloses the silences
that have persisted over time and across space. It reveals a dynamic, complex and
interesting past as it investigates the social, political and economic
interconnectedness of human relationships.
Encapsulated within this new account are stories of great hardship,
isolation, resilience, toughness, tenderness, brutality and survival. The men and
women at the centre of this dissertation are portrayed as two elements: grease and
ochre. Together they found a remote and ideal threshold-their liminal spacethat
enabled the two cultures to blend and form a new, distinct, community that
grew and flourished.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Cameron, P
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2008 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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