chapter  2
Historicizing colonial and postcolonial Indigenous crime and punishment
Pages 25

As a context for the analysis of Indigenous representations in sentencing, this chapter examines the portrayal of Indigenous people on the frontier and in various colonial and state legislation governing Indigenous Australians. It relies on records of Aboriginal Protectors and legislators, media reports and personal accounts by settlers and Indigenous people. These sources reveal that from the late eighteenth century there were persistent attempts to ‘eliminate, restructure and reconstitute Aboriginal identity in the interests of the colonizer’ (Blagg 2008: 3). Key to this process is the classifi cation of Indigenous people as ‘criminal’

as well as their instrumental criminalization and punishment. Punishing Indigenous people for colonial transgressions or simply because of their ‘race’ was intrinsic to ‘obliging the native to cathect the space of the Other on his home ground’ (Spivak 1985: 253). In other words, it forced the ‘natives’ to become outsiders and experience their home space as an imperial space.