The Aborigines' Protection Society

The Aborigines Protection Society


The sister organisation to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.

For more than seventy years, the Aborigines' Protection Society, a select group of the great and the good, fought for the natives of the British Empire and against the tide of white supremacy to defend the interests of aboriginal peoples everywhere. Active on four continents, the Society brought the Zulu King Cetshwayo to meet Queen Victoria, and Maori rebels to the Lord Mayor's banqueting hall. The Society's supporters were denounced by senior British Army officers and white settlers as Zulu-lovers, 'so-called friends of the Aborigines', and even traitors.

The book tells the story of the three-cornered fight among the Colonial Office, the settlers and the natives that shaped the Empire and the pivotal role that the Society played, persuading the authorities to limit settlers' claims in the name of native interests. Against expectations, the policy of native protection turned out to be one of the most important reasons for the growth of Imperial rule. James Heartfield's comparative study of native protection policies in Southern Africa, the Congo, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, and Canada explains how those who held the best of intentions ended up unwittingly championing further colonisation.

Pointing to the wreckage of humanitarian imperialism today, Heartfield sets out to understand its roots in the beliefs and practices of its nineteenth-century equivalents.


James Heartfield

Hardback • Hurst • Oxford UP
July 2011 £25.00 •$45.00
978-1849041201 • 288pp

The modern-day successor to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,

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British Workers and the US Civil War

The Legacies of Slavery project at University College London

London, Sugar and Slavery at the Docklands Museum

International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool