Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

in Equal Subjects, Unequal Rights

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780719060038
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700334 | DOI:

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  • Colonialism and Imperialism


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This chapter concludes a study on the circumstances under which British settler colonists accorded or denied political rights to Indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa from the 1830s to 1910. The developments discussed in the chapter show that while White settlers in all four countries gained powers of self-government and the vote, in none of these countries did the Indigenous peoples get fully equal powers. The processes by which these issues were fought out and negotiated in the four countries were very different, as were the outcomes. By the early twentieth century, the Maori of New Zealand had achieved the most in terms of access to conventional White parliamentary power – with both men and women enfranchised and Maori men able to sit in parliament and government – and Aborigines in Australia probably the least. Indigenous Canadians and South Africans (depending on the province in which they lived) had very limited voting rights, but were a very long way from anything approaching true equality. During the 1830s, in the British colonies of settlement, there was at least a theoretical assumption that British colonies did not enshrine any form of color bar excluding people on the grounds of race; yet, by 1910, all four countries had limited access to the franchise, to varying degrees, on racial criteria.

Keywords: political rights; Indigenous people; settler colonists; British colonists; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; South Africa; voting rights; parliamentary power

Chapter.  5158 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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