EPHUMA303 Understanding Australian History Learning


Week 1 – What were some of the original religious and economic motivations for colonization?

  • Religious à protestant reformation (started by martin Luther – which was basically trying to separate the catholic church as they believed there to be corruption)
  • Extent which religion shaped is up to debate
  • Economic – more so being the joint stock trading companies

Week 2 – What is distinctive and novel about Locke’s conception of property as the product of human labour?

The early 1700s saw the creation and dissemination of a new theory of property in Britain and her empire. In this theory, for land to be considered property and subject to ownership, it must be cultivated. This theory of property was developed largely by the philosopher John Locke, who, although writing in Britain, was influenced by the British need to establish themselves in the colony of Carolina, and to justify the dispossession of native Americans from their land.

  • Natural rights discussed heavily throughout
  • They existed long before there are any real written writes
  • Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.”
  • The tolls of our labour make natural resources our own à Locke’s belief
  • Locke links labour to property occupation, but saying that if you can use the land then its yours
  • Labour is what hinges people’s ability to take land as their property and what the land produces à and the fact that it is held in common in the first place, it’s something that everyone is entitled to (not just monarchs, or the man of the house, ect.

Week 3 – Who were the Nabobs?

A nabob refers to is a noticeably wealthy individual who gained a vast amount of his fortune in the east, particularly in India during the 18th century with the privately held East India Company. They were company officials, of British descent, who quite often would return to England with great wealth. British upper-class, often ridiculed the nabobs, as they were seen as social climbers who would go to India to get ‘rich quick. They were able to accumulate their wealth so quickly, s due to India at the time being a highly cultivated country in terms of it agricultural development and use of resources, as well as its culture and so the nabobs were able to bring a lot of this this back to England and profit quite immensely, particularly off of rarities at the time such as teas and curries. And so in turn, the nabobs actually established quite a lot of cultural influence over Britain.

Nabobs tended to be men that were regarded as somebody that would not do well in British society, and it was custom that a nabob would need to be nominated or recommended to work in the company. Moreover, nabobs generally tended to be looked down upon as they were not one who was born into wealth, who suddenly has a vast amount of it and would use it to fund their extravagant, ostentatious tastes. However, although ridiculed in their own country, they were quite significant in India, with many of them being rulers on behalf of the company and even administrators for the mogul empire.

Week 4 – What were the causes of the eventual abolition of slavery in the British Empire?

Week 4 – What powers did the VOC possess and what were the limits of its sovereignty?

VOC possessed what is known as quasi-governmental powers, which means that they were supported by the government, however, were a separate, private corporation. The company had the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, strike its own coins, and establish colonies. It is important to note that the company did not have the power to declare war, however, as mentioned, they could wage war and conclude treaties in its own right after 1609.

They had sovereign rights which resulted in a transformation from trading company to empire. These rights were bestowed, as it was hoped that by giving the VOC the power to enact laws, they would in turn be able to maintain order and discipline within the company’s own ships as well as their settlements. Moreover, it was a way to define the principles for the company’s engagement with foreign power, for example, to establish terms of trade, diplomacy, and conquest.

In addition to this, the company was even able to create a legal system which facilitated its trading interests. Martin Chanock states that “the law was the cutting edge of colonialism, and instrument of power of an alien state and part of the process of coercion’, and this is exactly what they done. However, controlling their hundreds of employees was no easy task, and in addition to this, the company also immensely struggled with contending indigenous and local Asian populations, which defiantly restricted the VOC sovereignties as their legal power was limited realistically only to those under the company.  This soon changed however, as trading nodes developed into more complex settlements, their power and control start to grow, and they begin to develop a more legitimate power over both their employees and the local Asian populations.

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