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An environmental history of British settlement in Van Diemen's Land : the making of a distinct people, 1798-1831

Boyce, PJ 2006 , 'An environmental history of British settlement in Van Diemen's Land : the making of a distinct people, 1798-1831', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Van Diemen's Land received approximately 72 000 convicts, mainly from the
British Isles and Ireland, between 1 803 and 1 853, and convicts and their
descendants formed the large majority of the population of the island colony
throughout this time. This thesis focuses on the environmental experience of this
majority population in the first three decades of settlement. It argues that the
history of British settlement of Van Diemen's Land, and consequently, to a not
insignificant extent, Australia, has been distorted by a failure to recognize that the
rigorous attempts to reproduce English rural society - social and environmental -
were largely undertaken by a relatively small group of free settlers. The
consequence of the failure to recognize the extent to which socio-economic
background shaped environmental experience, is that the life-changing
experience of the new land by a people without the capital or privilege to buffer
them from an immediate experience of place, have been obscured. The thesis
studies how the rich and accessible resources of the off-shore islands, coastal
bays and estuaries and, above all, grassy woodlands of the midlands and east
coast provided convicts and former convicts with an economic and physical
refuge from the rigorous and often brutal attempts to turn them into a disciplined
subservient labour force. This encounter with the new land occurred in the
context of a populated and defended land, and while this thesis is not 'Aboriginal
history', the Aborigines are inevitably central to the British experience, and the
cross-cultural meeting and conflict are major themes within it.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Boyce, PJ
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Copyright 2006 the author

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