In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • Victoria Haskins (bio) and Margaret D. Jacobs (bio)

From the cover of this special issue a group of Tasmanian Aboriginal women stare out in silent and defiant witness to the dispossession that brought them before the camera. Their heavy European garments seem to weigh them down, testimony to attempts by unseen actors to cover their bodies and mold them into new gender roles.1 Behind them a European house (represented like a child's drawing of a four-square windowed box) bears another kind of witness to the place of the home and the domestic in the process of colonization.

In colonization's embrace the home has always occupied a special significance as both harbinger and tool of "civilization." As a metonym for white womanhood as well as the metropole in settler colonies, the establishment of "the home" symbolized the end of the violent frontier period and the arrival of modernity and the comforts of civilization. Moreover, colonizers—especially women reformers—often imagined that the adoption of European-style homes (and the domestic work within them by Indigenous women) would miraculously transform native peoples into "civilized" colonial subjects.2 Thus the cover photo, taken just a few decades after the violent "Black War" had driven nearly all of the Aboriginal inhabitants from the Tasmanian mainland to Flinders Island, conveys a confident sense that the white invaders were no longer threatened by the Indigenous presence, and could now settle upon the land in proper British style.3 Although many Tasmanian Aboriginal women had negotiated and indeed resisted such attempts to "domesticate" them, this melancholic image seems to suggest otherwise. As revealed in this photograph, "the home" has represented a powerful symbol of colonial dominance and displacement.

In this special issue of Frontiers, however, we move beyond the use of the home as a metonym and metaphor. Instead we have set out to consider the home itself as a key arena in which to analyze the intricate workings of colonial dynamics. We have gathered together poetry, artwork, historical articles, and [End Page ix] essays of art history and literary criticism to reflect upon and to interrogate the nature of colonialism within the home, inside the realm of the domestic and intimate, and along "domestic frontiers." While the term "frontier" is a contentious one, we use the term here to designate a contact zone that brought together colonizers with indigenous inhabitants, sometimes blurring and other times redrawing the boundaries between them. Thus we draw upon Mary Louise Pratt's conception of "contact zones" to investigate cross-cultural imperial and colonial exchanges; but our focus is resolutely upon those that took place within the home.4 As Ann Laura Stoler puts it, such domestic or intimate frontiers provided "a social and cultural space where racial classifications were defined and defied, where relations between colonizer and colonized could powerfully confound or confirm the strictures of governance and the categories of rule."5

Our collection follows the lead of other feminist and postcolonial scholars who, over the past two decades, have reinvigorated the study of colonialism through focusing on the home, the domestic, and the intimate as both a site of and archive for colonialism. Scholars such as Ann Laura Stoler, Anne McClintock, Catherine Hall, Antoinette Burton, and Margaret Jolly have demonstrated the inextricable link between the intimate and the state, the private and the public, in the histories of colonialism.6

Inquiries into the nexus of colonialism and domesticity often focus primarily on what we might call "imperial colonies" such as India, where colonizers and scholars have, until recently, made sharp distinctions between metropole and colony, "home" and away, and "the gap between metropole and colony [that] was central to the system of colonial rule." Though we made no distinction in our call for papers on the theme of "Domestic Frontiers: The Home and Colonization," as it turned out the majority of pieces in this special issue address the domestic frontier within "settler colonies," including Australia, southern Africa, and the United States. In a recent essay, Catherine Hall ponders whether "the logics of racial thinking" were "differently constructed in frontier territories," bringing to mind the very types of settler colonies upon which this volume...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1536-0334
Print ISSN
0160-9009
Pages
pp. ix-xvi
Launched on MUSE
2007-07-17
Open Access
No
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