Agents of Colonial Rule: the Enduring Impacts of Historical Australian Policing

Dr Eleanor Bland1

1Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom

This paper is an introduction to my developing research project on the policing of marginalised groups in colonial Australia, and the legacies of these practices. While scholars have recognised that police officers were at the forefront of the creation of a new social order in the Australian colonies, there have been no substantive comparative analyses of how officers negotiated their roles and operated in practice within the communities that they policed. Focusing on Queensland and Western Australia, the project examines ‘suspect communities’ who were targeted, monitored and criminalised: convicts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and non-European immigrant groups from China and Melanesia. Not solely a historical project, it also asks how the legacies and memories of the targeted policing practices have been transmitted in colonial and postcolonial contexts. This includes innovative co-production methods with Aboriginal communities, to ensure that traditionally marginalised or unheard voices are drawn into the project.


Dr Eleanor Bland is a Lecturer in Criminology at Oxford Brookes University, UK. She completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield as part of the Digital Panopticon Project, which sparked her interest in researching Australian policing. She subsequently worked as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds. Her first monograph, ‘Policing Suspicion: Proactive Policing in London, 1780-1850’, is in production to be published with Routledge in Autumn 2021.


Dec 08 2021