Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The right passage

I always write using Word then cut and paste to blogger. I know that my life is getting hectic when my current personal writing file is at the bottom of the list of recent documents. Last night, reading and writing got relegated to after 9.30pm. It was 10.30 before I was ready to post. I felt like I was in graduate school again trying to force my eyelids to stay open as I ploughed through Helen Woolcock’s Rights of Passage: Emigration to Australia in the nineteenth century. This isn’t fair to Woolcock, but then I was unfair to the writing of many people in grad school. I remember one political science course whose reading load was two 400 page books per week. I don’t think I finished a single book on the course list and I have always read greedily and rapidly. It was one of my less stellar academic interludes.

I really don’t want to be unfair to Woolcock because her book is fantastic. I’ve only read the preface and one chapter and I am hooked. She gives a great overview of government policies and their impact on the everyday realities of migration. Basically her argument is that the government of Queensland wanted a particular kind of migrant – healthy, hard-working, good breeders – and was willing to implement policies that would ensure this. Whether this meant careful selection or strict rules about shipboard life or land grants, they were willing to do this. Of course, it wasn’t always successful, but her conclusion is that overall, government policies had largely the intended result.

My goal is to consume the rest of her book more fairly. Now I have to work out how to do this.

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