The British Empire's Framework of 'Protection' and Policing

June 26, 2024

Matilde Cazzola's research project examines the role of the 'protection' framework in the British colonial state, focusing on how it facilitated the governance and profitability of the mobility of indentured labourers and indigenous peoples. It highlights that this mobility was regulated and secured by law to remove disorderly or criminal elements, closely linking protection with policing and crime prevention from the early nineteenth century. The project also explores the use of protection as a justification for the collection of social knowledge about these groups, which informed social policies and legal measures.

She examines the role of legal actors and administrative bodies in implementing protective policies, including the work of the missionary Louis Giustiniani in the 1830s, who provided legal representation for Indigenous prisoners in Western Australia. It also examines protectorates for Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong, Victoria and the Straits Settlements, focusing on their role in regulating mobility.

Her project also examines debates over the recognition of Indigenous people as British subjects, laws regulating indentured labour, and the criminalisation of 'habitual' lawbreakers, using a variety of sources to contribute to the legal history of the British Empire.

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