Nervous nation: fear, conflict and narratives of fortified domestic architecture on the Queensland frontier

Burke, Heather and Kerkhove, Ray and Wallis, Lynley A. and Keys, Cathy and Barker, Bryce ORCID: (2020) Nervous nation: fear, conflict and narratives of fortified domestic architecture on the Queensland frontier. Aboriginal History, 44. pp. 21-57. ISSN 0314-8769


The frontier of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Australia was a place in which colonists routinely lived in fear of retaliation by the Aboriginal peoples whose traditional lands they had forcibly dispossessed. It has been suggested this concern manifested itself in domestic architecture, in both active and passive defensive strategies designed to afford protection against various forms of potential attack. Yet there remains a lack of substantive research to support such assertions. In this article, we present an analysis of accounts drawn from a range of sources of 97 domestic structures across Queensland with claims for defensive features. Although suggesting that fortified domestic structures were more common than previously envisaged, our review indicates that defensive features were usually minimal – holes in walls and barrable doors, windows or other ports of entry – reflecting the often expedient nature of the structures themselves. First-hand accounts of these buildings are rare, although not entirely absent, with most written accounts being reminiscences told in hindsight by later descendants, resulting in both distortions and myth-building. Accounts of fortified domestic structures peak in the decades following Federation and through both World Wars as the newly minted Australian nation explicitly engaged in nation-building and constructing the ‘glorious pioneer’ narrative

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2021 04:26
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2021 04:15
Uncontrolled Keywords: Queensland Native Mounted Police; Fortified Domestic Architecture
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210108 Historical Archaeology (incl. Industrial Archaeology)
Fields of Research (2020): 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430107 Historical archaeology (incl. industrial archaeology)
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past
Funding Details:
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.22459/ah.44.2020.02

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