Visions of Colonial Reform: Emigration and the Pacific New World, 1815-1840

The Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies

cordially invites you to  



The Pacific new world was the subject of renewed fascination and interest in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. Burdened by a huge national debt and plagued by pauperism at home, the seemingly boundless pastures of New Holland and New Zealand were no simply exotic locations on the map. Conceived of as waste and desert in the British imperial imagination, these new world lands also functioned as a solution to domestic distress, supplying as they did enviable "ghost acres" for redundant British labor to subdue and replenish.  

Yet, if Pacific new world lands and emigration were high on the agenda, so too were companies, for it was the company model, often but not always incorporated by Crown charter, that carried out the actual colonization plans articulated by metropolitan political economists such as Edward Gibbon Wakefield. While this so-called moment of "colonial reform" has long attracted the attention of scholars interested in the intersection between political economy and colonization, it has not yet been fully integrated into a broader history of company colonization.  

Staking claims on the global history of capitalism and settler colonial history, this talk will make the case for rewriting the Pacific back into the long history of companies and colonization.  

Matthew Birchall
Smuts Scholar
Jesus College, University of Cambridge   


Matthew Birchall is a Smuts Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he is working towards a PhD in History under the joint supervision of Dr. Duncan Bell an Professor Alison Bashford. His dissertation examines the suite of British colonization companies that flourished in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, the better to situate the so-called "colonial reform" movement in the global history of capitalism.  


Prior to starting his doctorate, Matthew served as the Editor for the Learnerbly, an education technology platform launched by Rajeeb Dey. He holds an MPhil in Political Thought & Intellectual History from Cambridge and an MA(Hons) in International Relations and Modern History from the University of St. Andrews.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
3:00 PM

Room 302P
Intercultural Center (ICC)

Georgetown University
37th & O Streets, NW
Washington, D.C. 20057

To RSVP please click here.  

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