Vagrant Lives in Colonial Australasia: Regulating Mobility, 1840-1910

Catharine Coleborne (Author)

Investigating the history of vagrants in colonial Australia and New Zealand, this book provides insights into the histories and identities of marginalised peoples in the British Pacific Empire. Showing how their experiences were produced, shaped and transformed through laws and institutions, it reveals how the most vulnerable people in colonial society were regulated, marginalised and criminalised in the imperial world.

Studying the language of vagrancy prosecution, narratives of mobility and welfare, vagrant families, gender and mobility and the political, social and cultural interpretations of vagrancy, this book sets out a conceptual framework of mobility as a field of inquiry for legal and historical studies. Defining ‘mobility’ as population movement and the occupation of new social and physical space, it offers an entry point to the related histories of penal colonies and new ‘settler’ societies. It provides insights into shared histories of vagrancy across New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand, and explores how different jurisdictions regulated mobility within the temporal and geographical space of the British Pacific Empire.