Was colonial Australia a nation of rogues?
Beyond recurrent images of convicts and bushrangers, what do we know about ordinary people's experiences of crime and punishment in colonial Australia? Despite an abundance of sources, it is only recently that this question has been framed and answers sought. The impetus has come from concern with current issues such as relations between police and Aboriginal communities, and the significance of sex/gender in our social order.
These essays deal with the police and the criminal law in action. Their subjects include women under the convict system in New South Wales; the paradoxical relationship between race, justice and criminal law in north Queensland; and the regulation of the vagrant in late-19th-century Melbourne.
In telling individual stories, they point out patterns of common experience. This new and accessible social history makes a forceful contribution to contemporary debate. The theme attracts scholars beyond the confines of history.
"A Nation of Rogues" should have application to courses in law, legal studies, criminology, sociology and anthropology, which need good published sources dealing with the social context of crime, criminal law and law enforcement.