Governing natives

Indirect rule and settler colonialism in Australia's north

By Ben Silverstein

Governing natives


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9526-3
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: October 2018
  • BIC Category: Modern History, Australasia, History, HISTORY / General, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Northern Territory, History & Archaeology, History, Colonialism & imperialism, c 1500 onwards to present day, Australasian & Pacific history, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Humanities / Australasian & Pacific history, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Australia & New Zealand
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


In the 1930s, a series of crises transformed relationships between settlers and Aboriginal people in Australia's Northern Territory. By the late 1930s, Australian settlers were coming to understand the Northern Territory as a colonial formation requiring a new form of government. Responding to crises of social reproduction, public power, and legitimacy, they re-thought the scope of settler colonial government by drawing on both the art of indirect rule and on a representational economy of Indigenous elimination to develop a new political dispensation that sought to incorporate and consume Indigenous production and sovereignties. This book locates Aboriginal history within imperial history, situating the settler colonial politics of Indigeneity in a broader governmental context.


'A short review cannot do justice to this innovative, original, and carefully researched study. Silverstein has clearly situated Australian settler colonialism and its practices towards Indigenous people within a wider imperial context.'
Australian Historical Studies


Note on terms
1 Strehlow's problem: colonial transformations and a governmental event
2 The political organisation of the British in their Empire, 1875-1939: transforming indirect rule
3 Reporting on the northern contradiction: conflict and crisis, 1918-45
4 Thomson in Canberra: anthropologising Aborigines
5 Native administration in the northern territory: a white minority in the national community
6 From a white Australia to an Aboriginal New Deal
7 The long march: work and the ends of settler colonialism
8 Never yet: the tense of citizenship


Ben Silverstein is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of History at The Australian National University

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