This article is the guest editors’ introduction to a special volume of Pacific Historical Review entitled “Protection: Global Genealogies, Local Practices.” Guest editors Christina Twomey and Katherine Ellinghaus argue that the global discourse of protection had a strong presence beyond British humanitarian circles and a longer chronological and larger geographical reach than historians have previously noted. Articles in the special volume include Christina Twomey’s examination of protection as a concept with its origins in European, rather than British, colonialism, Trevor Burnard’s study of the Protectors of slaves in Berbice in the early to mid-nineteenth century, Goolam Vahed’s analysis of the Protectors appointed to lobby on behalf of immigrant Indian indentured labourers in late nineteenth century Natal, Rachel Standfield’s investigation of the use of language in Protectorates in Australia and New Zealand in the 1840s, Amanda Nettelbeck’s exploration of the concept of Aboriginal vagrancy in Australia in the 1840s, and Katherine Ellinghaus’s comparison of the discourse of protection in policies of exemption and competency utlised in Oklahoma and New South Wales in the 1940s and 1950s.

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