karen fox on indigenous elites in and from the settler colonies


Karen Fox, ‘Ornamentalism, Empire and Race: Indigenous Leaders and Honours in Australia and New Zealand’, Journal of Imperialism and Commonwealth History ifirst (2014).

The imperial honours system, David Cannadine has argued, was a means for binding together ‘the British proconsular elite’ and ‘indigenous colonial elites’ throughout the settler colonies and dominions of the British Empire (Cannadine, David. Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire. London: Penguin, 2002). Yet in settler colonies like Australia and New Zealand indigenous populations were marginalised and often disregarded, and it was local white elites who became knights of St Michael and St George, the Bath and the British Empire. Focusing on Australia and New Zealand, this article explores the complex relationships Aboriginal and Māori leaders have had with honours during the twentieth century. Building upon Cannadine’s analysis, I examine the ways in which indigenous leaders navigated the political complexities involved in the offer of an honour, and how their acceptance of awards was received by others, shedding light on how honours systems intersected with post-war struggles for indigenous rights in the former dominions.

%d bloggers like this: