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“Certain Malays and South Sea Islanders”: Non-European foreigners in early colonial British New Guinea

« Certain Malays and South Sea Islanders » : Les étrangers non européens au début de la période coloniale en Nouvelle-Guinée britannique
Michael Goddard
p. 63-74

Abstracts

Non-European foreigners were integral in the late-19th-century encounter between European colonizers and indigenes in the southern part of what is now Papua New Guinea (png). They were initially rendered anonymous by collective descriptive terms like “Malays” and “South Sea Islanders”, but the handful of colonial administrators in the 1880s were soon relying significantly on the service and local knowledge of these so-called “alien natives”, many of whom had married indigenous villagers. While their work came to be appreciated by the early colonial Administration, by the end of the colonial period their contributions had been all but forgotten in conventional, dichotomous, historical narratives of the interactions of British or Australian foreigners and indigenes. This article revisits the activities of the so-called “Malays and South Sea Islanders”, to recover their historical significance.

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Text / excerpt

Cairn

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Outline

“Alien natives” in a British Protectorate
Colonial identities
Land and business
Amnesia, genealogy
Conclusion

Text / first lines

Historical accounts of the European settlement of the south coast of what is now Papua New Guinea (png) mostly dichotomize the colonial-era population into Europeans and natives, and discuss one or the other of these designated groups, or the interactions between them (e.g. Inglis, 1974; Jinks et al., 1973; Legge, 1972; Nelson, 1976; Whittaker et al., 1975). Barely mentioned in this characterization are the early non-European settlers referred to as “Malays and South Sea Islanders", or “alien natives” in 19th-century colonial documents (e.g. bngar, 1886: 16, 21). In his definitive colonial history of Port Moresby, Nigel Oram wrote of the early-20th-century status of these immigrants:

“Europeans [...] treated them as inferiors. They did not form a corporate social group because they were few in number, differed in racial origin and did not live in the same residential area. They had virtually no political influence and made little impact on the social life of the other racial groups.”...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Michael Goddard, « “Certain Malays and South Sea Islanders”: Non-European foreigners in early colonial British New Guinea », Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 150 | 2020, 63-74.

Electronic reference

Michael Goddard, « “Certain Malays and South Sea Islanders”: Non-European foreigners in early colonial British New Guinea », Journal de la Société des Océanistes [Online], 150 | 2020, Online since 02 January 2022, connection on 27 September 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/jso/11372 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/jso.11372

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About the author

Michael Goddard

Macquarie University (Australia), michael.goddard@mq.edu.au

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Copyright

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