Ruining Pacific Islands: Australia's Phosphate Imperialism

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    This article explores British, Australian and New Zealand phosphate mining histories in Oceania, with a particular focus on the impact of mining on Banaba, also called Ocean Island, in Kiribati, the former Gilbert Islands Colony. The Ocean Island case provides insight into the nature of Australia's imperial relationship with the Pacific Islands, putting into context, for example, its current relationship with Nauru as a host for refugee detention centres. Both islands were mined for phosphate by the British Phosphate Commissioners which operated out of centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and London. Islands such as Banaba, once critical for Australian agriculture, are absent in Australian public memory but the effects of Banaba's environmental and social ruining endure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)374-391
    JournalAustralian Historical Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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