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Provincialising God: Anglicanism, Place, and the Colonisation of Australian Land


Dr Meredith Lake is a graduate of the University of Sydney. She was awarded her PhD in 2009 for the thesis “‘Such Spiritual Acres’: Protestantism, the Land and the Colonisation of Australia, 1788–1850.”


This article investigates the importance of Anglican religion and the physical structures of faith to how some believers understood their surrounds in a British settler colony. Its central figure, William Grant Broughton, was head of the Church of England in Australia during the 1830s and 1840s. At the time when the position of the Church was changing both at home and abroad, it was his responsibility to establish the physical and spiritual presence of Anglicanism throughout the colony. He faced the particular challenges of negotiating the Church's formal relationship to the land and Anglicanism's cultural contribution to settler notions of local place and community. In meeting these challenges, Broughton “provincialised God” by articulating the Anglican faith with consequences specific to his Australian context and particularly to the British colonisation of Aboriginal territory.