Immigrant Diets and the Making of Australia

Author(s): Kimberley Connor

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeologies of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In Australia, Casella and Fredericksen have argued, places of confinement have a disproportionate importance in the national mythology because they are material representations of classic Australian heroes: the convict, the outlaw, and the larrikin. Criminal or mischievous acts are recast as rejecting an unjust social system or an imperial oppressor. By differentiating themselves from their English antecedents, Australians are able to create a unique identity. That institutions of immigration are now part of the commemoration process is somewhat ironic, since in the nineteenth century they were designed to promote, and even enforce, the reproduction of English norms in the colonies. Using the case study of the Female Immigrant Depot (1848-1886) housed in Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, this paper discusses attempts to shape and condition the diet of the emigrant working classes through institutions of immigration. In the depot, the inmates’ diet became a reflection of ruling class imaginaries for what the labouring masses should eat and, by extension, how they should behave. At the same time, faunal analysis suggests the limited success that the authorities had in controlling diet within the institution and highlights the strategies inmates used to resist the regulations imposed upon their food and their lives.

Cite this Record

Immigrant Diets and the Making of Australia. Kimberley Connor. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450909)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.797; min lat: -44.465 ; max long: 154.951; max lat: -9.796 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23259