Historical geography is an active, theoretically-informed and vibrant field of study within modern geography, with strong interdisciplinary connections with the humanities and the social sciences. The SAGE Handbook of Historical Geography provides an international and in-depth overview of the field with chapters that examine the history, present condition and future significance of historical geography in relation to recent developments and current research. The Handbook is in two volumes, divided across nine parts. Volume One includes commentaries on the history and geography of historical geography, and reviews how historical geographers have considered the appropriation, management and representation of landscape, the changing geographies of property, land, money and financial capital, and the demographic, medical and political analysis of the world's growing and mobile population. Volume Two shows how historical geographers have made significant contributions to geopolitical debates about the relationships between nation-states and empires, to environmental challenges posed by human interaction with the natural world, to studies of the cultural, intellectual and political implications of modern science and technology, and to investigations of communicative action, artefacts, performances and representations. The final part reviews the methodological and ethical challenges of historical geography as a publicly engaged research practice. Part 1: Histories and Geographies; Part 2: Land and Landscapes; Part 3: Property and Money; Part 4: Population and Mobility; Part 5: Territory and Geopolitics; Part 6: Environment and Nature; Part 7: Science and Technology; Part 8: Meaning and Communication; and Part 9: Studies in Practice.

Chapter 19: Vagrancy, Mobility and Colonialism

Vagrancy, Mobility and Colonialism

Vagrancy, mobility and colonialism
Catharine ColeborneMaree O'Connor


By the late nineteenth century, the British empire's colonial periphery was a vast network of political territories and governments, laws, and mobile peoples. Although the historical study of mobility should not be reduced to an examination of immigration (Ballantyne 2014), the stories of immigrants arriving in colonial ports provide direct examples of movement in a highly mobile world. What has been termed ‘Empire migration’ created forms of mobility that ‘spawned a dizzying network’ of families, travellers, and community groups (Hammerton 2004, 179). Among them were vagrants: those whose mobility threatened the new social order of the settled.

Before 1900, new borders were mostly open to Europeans on the move who challenged expectations of life ‘at home’ ...

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