Colonial genocides : Aborigines in Queensland, 1840-1897, and Hereros in South West Africa, 1884-1906.
Studies of genocide rarely move beyond the Holocaust (1939-1945) and the Aimenian
genocide (1915-1917), and few make comparative analyses ofdifferentcases. This study
seeks to develop understanding of which economic, political and social conditions give rise
to a specific type of genocide - colonial genocides. An in depth study is made of the
genocide of Aborigines in Queensland (1840-1897) and this is systematically compared to a
briefer study of the genocide of the Hereros in South West Africa (1884-1906).
Of the factors compared, four are verified by both cases, albeit with certain modifications.
A common argument is made that genocide is preempted where the victim group is needed
as labour for the perpetrator society. Neither case supported this factor: rather, it was
found that the genocide continued despite this need. Whilst these factors provided
necessary conditions for genocide, they were not sufficient to explain why genocide had
been pursued rather than policies of assimilation or expulsion. Hence the role of ideologies
and popular perceptions in Britain and Germany, and their colonial purposes, were
examined to explain their different roles in the genocides. The particular forms of
ideologies and popular perceptions were found to be significant as were changing
international relations within Europe. The seventh factor - that genocide might be
preempted where the church or state of the perpetrator homeland intervened, was also
invalidated by the case studies.
The problem of defining genocide is also addressed. The thesis demonstrates that the issue
of perpetrator intention to commit genocide can be measured. It draws distinctions between
overt and covert perpetrator intention; genocides in which the state is an active perpetrator and those where it has a complicit, less obvious role; and between a piecemeal form of
genocide occurring over a long period, and a systematic genocide in a shorter time spell.
The conclusions drawn from the case studies are briefly contrasted to explanations arising
from the main European cases of genocide. By underlining the differences, the thesis
demonstrates that colonial genocides are a distinct type of genocide and point to a non-
Eurocentric approach to understanding genocide.