Floating Frontiersmen and Illicit Informal Economies in Britain’s Antipodean Colonies
In the 1840s, Britain’s New Zealand and Vandemonian colonies underwent significant transformations that proved to be turning points in their histories. New Zealand became a crown colony in 1840, while the convict colony of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) was the site of a unique experiment in penal discipline. Against this backdrop, Spanish-born and American-raised black whaler Emanuel Lewis traded oceanic voyaging for a terrestrial-based Antipodean lifestyle. This urban-based floating frontiersman subsequently became embroiled in three court cases. Intimate readings of these cases reveal how several unofficial economies were flourishing at the time in New Zealand and Van Diemen’s Land, and link life on the land in the port cities of Auckland and Hobart into a global maritime network within which Lewis functioned as a node.
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