Honourable Intentions? compares the significance and strategic use of ‘honour’ in two colonial societies, the Cape Colony and the early British settlements in Australia, between 1750 and 1850. The mobile populations of emigrants and sojourners, sailors and soldiers, merchants and traders, slaves and convicts who surged into and through these regions are not usually associated with ideas of honour. But in both societies, competing and contradictory notions of honour proved integral to the ways in which colonisers and colonised, free and unfree, defended their status and insisted on their right to be treated with respect. During these times of flux, concepts of honour and status were radically reconstructed.
Each of the thirteen chapters considers honour in a particular sphere - legal, political, religious or personal - and in different contexts determined by the distinctive and changing matrix of race, gender and class, as well as the distinctions of free and unfree status in each colony. Early chapters in the volume show how and why the political, ideological and moral stakes of the concept of honour were particularly important in colonial societies; later chapters look more closely at the social behaviour and the purchase of honour among specific groups. Collectively, the chapters show that there was no clear distinction between political and social life, and that honour crossed between the public and private spheres.
This exciting new collection brings together new and established historians of Australia and South Africa to highlight thought-provoking parallels and contrasts between the Cape and Australian colonies that will be of interest to all scholars of colonial societies and the concept of honour.
"This path-breaking collection of essays extends the reach of comparative studies of colonial culture and governance. It provides an important intervention in practices of trans-regional scholarship, demonstrating how malleable ideas moved among both elites and commoners, creating material consequences that are mutually recognizable in spite of the great distance and different local circumstances that separate Australia and South Africa. The deep conceptual work and careful attention to detail in the essays will find broad readership among early-modern cultural historians of all regions and an eager audience of colonial-era scholars."
Laura J. Mitchell, University of California, Irvine, USA
"A truly remarkable collection of trendsetting essays that tracks and traces the social history of honour in colonial South Africa and colonial Australia between 1750-1850. Authored by a blend of influential and emerging historians, the book analyses how honour was understood by different colonial identities and influenced by diverse contexts. By offering fresh insights into the private and public worlds of individuals with reference to honour, it unlocks some of the more complex inner workings of colonial societies and contested human relations."
Russel Viljoen, University of South Africa
List of Illustrations List of Contributors Introduction: Honourable intentions? Penny Russell and Nigel Worden 1 Defining and defending honour in law Kirsten McKenzie 2 The Honourable Company: VOC rule at the Cape Nigel Penn 3 Honourable colonisation? Australia Penelope Edmonds 4 Honour and religion in the Cape Colony Robert Ross 5 Honour, information and religion: New South Wales 1780s–1850s Alan Atkinson 6 The politics of burgher honour in the Cape Colony, 1770s–1780s Teun Baartman 7 Honour and liberal governance in the Australian and Cape colonies 1820s–1850s Chris Holdridge 8 Defending honour in Dutch Cape settler society Nigel Worden 9 Defending honour in Australian settler society Catie Gilchrist 10 Honour among slaves and indigenous people in the Cape Colony Rick Watson 11 Honour among convict and Aboriginal men in 1820s New South Wales James Drown and Penny Russell 12 Honour, morality and sexuality in the eighteenth-century Cape Colony Gerald Groenewald 13 Honour, morality and sexuality in nineteenth-century Sydney Penny Russell Index