Foreigner's Sabbath, Chinese and Aboriginal Agency in Defining Australian Gold-Rush Religiosity

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Gordon Goodwin
Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara


By Gordon Goodwin, Arabic and History

Advisor: Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara

Presentation ID: 270

Abstract: Modern Australian historiography has done much to complicate the history of its gold rush, detatching it from its complicated place in national myth and story. Despite this, one area where progress is still young is that of religious history, in particular the conflict over public morality contested by the traditionalist Sabbatarians and reformist Chartists. The present writing on this conflict focus almost exclusively on white actors, with nonwhite communities only appearing as rhetorical devices used by editorial writers. A study of newspapers, monographs, and meeting records reveal though that far from being passive props, Chinese and Aboriginal groups on the goldfields played an active role in defining this discourse, shaping it to provide protection and authority to marginalized communities in a time when morality was base for communal legitimacy. The results of this hope to both properly center Chinese and Aboriginal groups in goldfield religiosity while also complicating Sabbatarian/Chartist stereotypes as Australia shifted from a morality-based nationality to one more centered on a white race-based nationality.

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Category: Social (In)Justice