Mark Finnane and Jonathan Richards’ article, ‘Speculating about genocide: The Queensland frontier 1859–1897’, has just been published online and open access for the Asia-Pacific Economic History Review. It reviews and finds wanting the methods informing some recent calculations of Native Police killings on the Queensland frontier.
Finnane and Richards write that in the colonisation of Queensland, it is commonly accepted that large numbers of Indigenous people were killed in the second half of the nineteenth century. These calculations of violent mortality have recently been revised radically upwards. Finnane and Richards suggest that the methodology deployed in these new studies is unreliable, reflecting errors in counting and calculation, as well as underestimating the selection bias of the samples. They caution against projecting aggregate violent mortality where the underlying data are so imperfect, and emphasise the value of more detailed local and regional studies to inform better understanding of colonisation’s impact on First Peoples.