Archaeology of colonisation: A critical voyage from the Caribbean to Australia

Rivera, Carlos Santana (2016). Archaeology of colonisation: A critical voyage from the Caribbean to Australia PhD Thesis, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.168

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Author Rivera, Carlos Santana
Thesis Title Archaeology of colonisation: A critical voyage from the Caribbean to Australia
School, Centre or Institute School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.168
Publication date 2016-03-13
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Jon Willis
Sally Babidge
Total pages 291
Language eng
Subjects 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
2002 Cultural Studies
Formatted abstract
This research is a historical-theoretical examination of how colonisation was operationalised in Queensland, Australia. It argues that colonisation was constituted as a form of government that had two constitutive dimensions: one metaphysical framed by aesthetic judgement and one technico-political framed by administrative functionality. The mapping of both dimensions provides a more accurate description of the operationalisation of colonisation.

This research applies a Foucauldian archaeology to the ongoing process of colonisation, and its findings are outlined in two parts. The first part discusses the global origins of how the colonial West first aesthetically conceptualised aboriginality and blackness in the Caribbean, and the second part discusses how this conceptualisation was wielded locally in Queensland through the administrative design of the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (1897 Act). Foucauldian archaeology is understood as a historical engagement with the origins of a given notion, concept, or praxis, and with its relationship to forms of governance (Agamben, 2009; Deleuze, 1985; Foucault, 1974).

This thesis begins with mapping the global origins of colonisation, which are found in the first European colonial experiences in the Caribbean in the 15th and 16th centuries where the Western conceptualisations of aboriginality and blackness were formed. I argue here that these conceptualisations were aesthetic assemblages that predate the post-Enlightenment discourses of anthropology. The first of these conceptualisations, aboriginality, was assembled at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries from the aesthetics of monstrosity. Through casting aboriginality in the imagery of the monstrous, and particularly of the cannibal, this conceptualisation justified the enslavement of aboriginal peoples, the first slavery in the Americas. A second conceptualisation, blackness, was assembled later in the 16th century. Blackness became historically tied through the conceptualisation of aboriginality to slavery. These two conceptualisations - aboriginality and blackness - were later used interchangeably in the 1897 Act as tools used to subjectify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

The thesis continues with analysing the functions of colonisation as a local form of governance. I term this the Blanket Approach, a wordplay that describes the pure function of colonisation as a form of governance. The operation of colonisation ´┐╝II in Queensland is illustrated through the triple functions of the Blanket Approach: totalisation, multiplicity, and the creation of desire. Thus, the 1897 Act through its Blanket Approach imposes Western colonial conceptualisations of aboriginality and blackness through its totalising effect on the possible relationships between colonial subjects and the state, is distributed through a multiplicity of functions, and creates the conditions for a tailored relationship in the space of subjectivity.

Lastly, this research concludes that the two-fold operation that I describe links the local governance processes with global historical conceptualisations through a conceptualist movement, which is an administrative non-political movement whose concern, in the manner of conceptualist art, is with the appearance of things or of relationships in the world rather than with their substance. This conceptualist movement as a form of power aids colonisation as a localised form of governance. In this sense, colonisation is understood not only as a local process, or only as global machinery, but also as machinery that simultaneously operates micropolitically and macropolitically.
Keyword Coloniality
Foucauldian archaeology
Critical cultural studies
Aesthetic theory
Critical history
Indigenous Studies
Decolonial approaches
Critical methodology

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Tue, 08 Mar 2016, 18:32:01 EST by Carlos Santana Rivera on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)