University of Tasmania

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Savages or Saviours? The sealers on the maritime frontier

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 19:22 authored by Rebe TaylorRebe Taylor
The sealers of nineteenth century Australia sealers are central to the story of how the Aboriginal Tasmanians have survived. For the Aboriginal Tasmanian women who were taken to live with sealers on the islands off Tasmania’s mainland, and had families with them, today have many descendants who continue to remember their ancestors’ heritage, culture and Aboriginality. But the sealers were also invaders, responsible for terrible violence towards the Aboriginal peoples of Tasmania. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise to find that textual representations of the sealers vary greatly. The older and more popular texts portray the sealers as only deplorable. More recent representations, however, acknowledge the role the sealers played in the story of Aboriginal Tasmanian survival. these writers have not, however, given equal attention to the sealers’ atrocities, possibly for fear of undermining their revisionist task. But perhaps they would have less to fear if they asked why they had to revise the sealers’ textual representations in the first place. Look through colonial eyes we can see that representing the sealers as ‘saviours’ has never been in colonial interests.


Publication title

The Colonial Eye Conference


College Office - College of Arts, Law and Education

Place of publication

The University of Tasmania, Australia

Event title

The Colonial Eye Conference

Event Venue

The University of Tasmania, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Australia’s past

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    University Of Tasmania


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