The Last Man : A British Genocide in Tasmania
by Tom Lawson
Editor: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
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Just over seventy years after the British settled in Tasmania (Tasmania later) in 1803, the indigenous community had been virtually wiped out.Yet this genocide in the hands of the British is almost forgotten today.The last man is the first book specifically to examine the role of the British government and wider British society in this genocide.It positions destruction because of British politics and ideology in the region.Tom Lawson shows how Britain practiced cultural destruction and then came to reconcile with and escape from its imperial genocidal past.Although the introduction of European diseases may have contributed to the decline of the native population, Lawson says that the British government supported what was effectively ethnic cleansing of Tasmania – particularly in the right-wing martial period of 1828-1832 – the British government supported what was effectively ethnic cleansing of Tasmania.By 1835, the vast majority of the surviving Aboriginal community had been deported to Flinders Island, where the British government took a keen interest in transforming them into Christians and the English into a campaign of cultural genocide.Lawson also illustrates how the destruction of Aboriginal Tasmanians has translated into British culture – since then – both in time and in how it has come to play a key role in shaping particular versions of British imperial identity.Complaints for the lost Tasmanians have been a recurring theme in literature and museum culture and the erroneous assumption that the Tasmanians were destined for extinction of all was an important part of the new science of man’s origins.Exploring the memory of destruction, The Last Man provides the first global picture of the British role in the destruction of Tasmania’s indigenous population.
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