Limits of control: The archaeology of socio-political communities on the rural margins – a case study from Australia

01st June 2012

Conventional approaches to colonial landscapes are generally descriptive and both downplay the social implications of administrative control in the formation of the rural cultural landscape, and the eighteenth century antecedents for the interplay between authority and rural populations. They also typically utilise concepts that are inherently difficult to adapt to archaeological investigation. In this study I adopt interpretative frameworks derived from the work of Foucault in the social sciences and Pauketat in anthropological archaeology to specifically counter these deficiencies in undertaking an archaeological analysis of cultural landscapes of late nineteenth and early twentieth century rural Australia. Both Foucault and Pauketat develop conceptual frameworks that are rooted in observable phenomena that as such are amenable to archaeological analysis.

For this study, discipline and surveillance are proposed as core forces in the formation of the Australian rural cultural landscape. An effect of rapid and somewhat arbitrary rural land subdivision in the mid-nineteenth century was the creation of new marginal spaces. Such radical transformations in land parcelisation methodologies and socio-political structures that occurred in my study region on the northern tablelands of New South Wales, are proposed as a paradigmatic exemplar of European colonial era settlement patterns with widespread applicability.

Peter O'Donohue
Limits of control: The archaeology of socio-political communities on the rural margins – a case study from Australia
June 2012
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Thesis Abstracts
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