CANCELLED Settler Colonial Liberalism and the Effect of Sovereignty: Notes from Nineteenth-Century Victoria


In normative theories and histories of liberalism both, the question of sovereignty is usually understood to precede determinations of citizenship. Territorial sovereignty is, in these narratives, the ground upon which political liberalism operates. What happens, though, if we see the terms and identities through which sovereignty operates as the continual effect of political contests rather than their foundation? This paper will explore the dynamic history of sovereignty in mid-nineteenth century Victoria through an examination of debates about citizenship between and amongst liberals in this settler colony. In so doing it seeks to bring into conversation two historiographies that often fail to account for one and other, namely, the imperial history of British liberalism and theorisations of settler colonialism.



Leigh Boucher is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Macquarie University. His research centres on the construction and representation of difference in liberal democratic political and popular cultures. This has produced work that investigates a wide variety of historical contexts and representations. This includes research on the dynamic of settler-colonialism and changing constructions of manhood in nineteenth century Victoria, anthropological constructions of the “Aborigine” in nineteenth century Australia, sexuality in contemporary historical films, contestations over masculinity in the representation of the AFL, and the impact of changing ideas about sexuality on the operation of citizenship in late-modern Australia.

Date & time

Tue 24 Mar 2020, 4.30–5.45pm


Theatrette (2.02), Sir Roland Wilson Building, 120 McCoy Circuit, ANU


Dr Leigh Boucher, Macquarie University

Event series


Prof Will Christie


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