Vanished Thresholds: Colonial Gentry and the Shaping of One of Sydney's Earliest Suburbs

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Lesley Johnson


This article explores the way a colonial gentry was constituting itself as a social grouping in the mid nineteenth century through shaping the landscape and material culture of suburbs such as Darling Point in Sydney. In doing so , they sought to create an 'infrastructure of certainty' for themselves in the challenging and volatile world of what was still predominantly a penal colony. Important to this investigation is an understanding of the lack of stability of this social grouping, particularly in its earliest years, and how this was played out in the subdivisions of land and the building, ownship and furnishing of the early stone villas of this area. I am interested in what this built environment might suggest about the effectivity of material culture in the mobilisation and performance of class, gendered and racial identities in particular urban environments in the nineteenth century.

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