The archive hunter: The life and work of Leslie R. Marchant


The archive hunter: The life and work of Leslie R. Marchant



Professor Leslie R. Marchant was a Western Australian historian of international renown. Richly educated as a child in political philosophy and critical reason, Marchant’s understandings of western political philosophies were deepened in World War Two when serving with an international crew of the merchant navy. After the war’s end, Marchant was appointed as a Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia’s Depart of Native Affairs. His passionate belief in Enlightenment ideals, including the equality of all people, was challenged by his experiences as a Protector. Leaving that role, he commenced his studies at The University of Western Australia where, in 1952, his Honours thesis made an early case that genocide had been committed in the administration of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. In the years that followed, Marchant became an early researcher of modern China and its relationship with the West, and won respect for his archival research of French maritime history in the Asia-Pacific. This work, including the publication of France Australe in 1982, was later recognised with the award of a French knighthood, the Chevalier d’Ordre National du Mèrite, and his election as a fellow to the Royal Geographical Society. In this festschrift, scholars from The University of Notre Dame Australia appraise Marchant’s work in such areas as Aboriginal history and policy, Westminster traditions, political philosophy, Australia and China and French maritime history.

Publication Date



The University of Notre Dame Australia




Leslie R. Marchant, Australian history, French maritime history, France Australe, Westminster Traditions, Australia and China, Merchant Navy, Aboriginal Protector



The archive hunter: The life and work of Leslie R. Marchant