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Patyegarang and William Dawes: the Space of Imagination

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Making Settler Colonial Space

Abstract

In January 1788 Lieutenant William Dawes came to Botany Bay, on Australia’s southeastern coast, with the First Fleet Marines. Lately he has loomed into contemporary awareness in Australia. This emergence has occurred after he had just about disappeared from accounts having completed his four-year Sydney sojourn in December 1791. For almost two hundred years Dawes missed out on close historical attention because his papers and effects had been assumed destroyed in family disputes and by a hurricane in Antigua during the nineteenth century. But in 1972 his two ‘language notebooks’ were discovered at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.1 Amounting to eighty small pages of spacious handwriting, the notebooks are a vital trace of the first four years of British colonisation in Australia, and since their retrieval growing numbers of scholars have been appreciating not only the timbre of Dawes’ intellect but equally the boldness and wit of the Indigenous people with whom he conversed.2

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Notes

  1. See G. A. Wood, ‘Lieutenant William Dawes and Captain Watkin Tench’, Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society 10, 1 (1924): 1–22.

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  2. See Jakelin Troy’s Australian Aboriginal Contact with the English Language in New South Wales: 1788 to 1845 (Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1990);

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  3. Jane Rogers, Promised Lands (London: Faber and Faber, 1995)

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  4. Paul Carter’s imaginative sound installation and book, The Calling to Come, for the Museum of Sydney (Sydney: Historic Houses Trust, 1996);

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  5. and Jeremy Macdonald Steele’s remarkably comprehensive linguistic analyses in his MA thesis, ‘The Aboriginal Language of Sydney’ (University of Sydney, 2005).

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  6. See Kate Grenville’s novel The Lieutenant (Melbourne: Text, 2008). Finally, see the Australian SBS TV series The First Australians (2008, produced by Darren Dale and Rachel Perkins).

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  7. See Watkin Tench, 1788 comprising A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, ed. Tim Flannery (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1996). First published 1789 and 1793 respectively.

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  8. Deirdre Coleman’s Romantic Colonization and British Anti-Slavery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) gives a lucid view into these issues.

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  9. Robert J. McAfee (ed.), Dawes’s Meteorological Journal (Canberra: Department of Science and Technology, 1981), p. 19. McAfee asserts on page 1 that Dawes’ weather journal is probably the most comprehensive account of meteorological patterns anywhere in the world at the time.

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  10. Keith Smith, Bennelong: the Coming in of the Eora, Sydney Cove 1788–1792 (Sydney: Kangaroo Press, 2001), p. 108.

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  11. The relationship between Patyegarang and Dawes, peculiar as it was, can be considered as another of the contentious histories of colonial intimacy that Ann Stoler has been investigating in books such as Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)

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  12. and Haunted by Empire, ed. Stoler (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

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  13. See Notebook B, p. 33, 11. 3–10. See also Jakelin Troy, The Sydney Language (Canberra: AIATSIS and Australian Dictionaries Project, 1993), p. 14.

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  14. Inga Clendinnen, Dancing with Strangers (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2003), p. 288.

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  15. Paul Carter, The Calling to Come (Sydney: MoS Publications, 1996), p. 3.

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  16. Paul Carter, The Sound in Between: Voice, Space, Performance (Kensington: New Endeavour Press, 1992).

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© 2010 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Gibson, R. (2010). Patyegarang and William Dawes: the Space of Imagination. In: Mar, T.B., Edmonds, P. (eds) Making Settler Colonial Space. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230277946_16

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230277946_16

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-30733-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-230-27794-6

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