Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Dale, L. 2008, ''"This Nineteenth Century of Progress and Humanity": The Life and Times of Frederick Weld'', in H. Gilbert & C. Tiffin (eds), Burden or Benefit? Imperial Benevolence and its Legacies, Indiana Press, Indiana. pp. 72-89.


This essay focuses on the life and work of a British subject, New Zealand colonist, and imperial governor, Sir Frederick Weld. It attempts to consider the paradoxes of Weld's reputation for benevolence as an administrator, most particularly through his role in contesting violence on the colonial frontier of Western Australia. This contestation occurred when he intervened to ensure that a white colonist was charged with murder for killing an Aboriginal man. My aim is to consider the nature of benevolent intention and its role in the imperial process, particularly in the context of the often unspoken assumption that there is a gradual and inevitable improvement in the quality of justice. The inquiry is made from a position that is "postcolonial," by which I do not mean that Australian culture has "outgrown" or "moved on" from colonization, but the opposite: that colonization has so profoundly shaped Australian society that almost no cultural analysis can legitimately reject a consideration of its impact. The "post" in postcolonial, therefore, does not mean "after" colonization, but signals an ongoing engagement with its legacy.