Kimberley Connor

Kimberley Connor
Thu May 11th 2023, 3:30 - 4:30pm
Event Sponsor
Department of Anthropology
Anthropology Colloquium Room
Building 50, Room 50-51A

From Immigrant to Settler: Food and Dining in a Nineteenth-Century Institution of Immigration

The Female Immigration Depot opened in Sydney in 1848 to supervise the importation of unmarried female immigrants into New South Wales. Travelling on subsidised passages, these women were supposed to work as domestic servants and to marry into colonial society. The depot represented a new, institutional way of managing the perceived physical and moral dangers for female immigrants but it also played an important role in the transformation of immigrants from a variety of backgrounds—ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural—into settlers with a shared British identity.

Drawing on the rich archival and archaeological materials related to the Female Immigration Depot (1848-1887) at Hyde Park Barracks, I provide a case study for a culinary archaeology of the institution. Tacking between multiple lines of evidence provides detailed glimpses into life at the depot and, in particular, into moments of disjuncture between official policy and actual behaviour. The results reveal a diet that was much more varied than the official dietary would suggest, pointing to the range of strategies that women within the institution had for acquiring food products. The range of food remains found at the barracks connects the immigrant women into globalised meshworks of circulation and broader shifts in dining practices. More broadly, tracing the flows of people, goods, and ideas through the depot highlights the importance of emergent institutions of immigration for understanding the formation of the settler colonies.


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