The Black Line in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), 1830

Professor Lyndall Ryan, member of the University of Newcastle's Centre for the History of Violence, has been awarded the prestigious 2013 John Barrett Award for her article in the Journal of Australian Studies: 'The Black Line in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), 1830.'

The Journal of Australian Studies is recognised as a research journal of high international standing, and the John Barrett Award for Australian Studies is awarded annually for the best article published by the Journal.

Professor Ryan's award winning article contests the views of Tasmanian historians who dismissed the Black Line – the largest force ever assembled against Aborigines anywhere in Australia – as an aberration by Governor George Arthur.

"Far from being an aberration, the Line was a common strategy employed across the British Empire to forcibly remove Indigenous peoples from their homelands," said Professor Ryan. "Further, there was not just one but three Lines in force over the fifteen-month period of the entire operation, and they played a decisive role in ending the Black War."

The article concludes that in making George Arthur the scapegoat, historians have overlooked the Line's significance as an important instrument of British imperial power in the early nineteenth century.

The esteemed judging panel of academics for the John Barrett Award wrote the following citation of Professor Ryan's article:

This essay makes a significant contribution by reconceptualising the history of the Black Line within a larger historical frame of British imperial history. While often understood as a key moment that was unique to Tasmanian colonial history, Ryan persuasively demonstrates that the history of the Black Line holds an important wider place within the transnational context of imperial military strategy.

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