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Sydney Ideas - 60,000 years of Australian History: a plea for interdiscipli...

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The Quadrangle

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

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Professor Lynette Russell, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Monash University

The 2nd Bicentennial Australian History Lecture, hosted by the Department of History, the university of Sydney


How do we understand, imagine, visualise and create narratives for 50,000 years of Australian history?

As commonly presented, Australia’s past seems to consist of 230 years of European colonisation and over 50,000 years of Aboriginal culture, the former the purview of historians and the latter of archaeologists. Yet it presents striking opportunities for a truly integrated and seamless deep continental history, combining disciplines and methodologies.

Such a history would consider the full range of human experience from arrival, through changes in climate, technologies and belief systems to interactions with Maccassan, Portuguese, Dutch, French and finally the British. It would stretch across 2500 unbroken generations of people birthed, nurtured and sustained: people who modified landscapes, hunted, sang songs, practised religion and buried their dead.

This lecture argues for mixing epistemologies to create historical narratives of the deep past that may be taught in schools and universities, presented in museums and popular culture, and proudly shared by all Australians.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Professor Lynette Russell is Director of the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Monash University, and Node Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Australian Biodiverstiy and Heritage. She traces her Aboriginal ancestry via her grandmother from Western Victoria with connections into Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands; on the other side she is descended from transported convicts.

Lynette has a PhD in history from the University of Melbourne and has taught and researched in historical studies for over twenty years. In 2015 she was visiting fellow at All Souls College Oxford. Her monographs include: Hunt them, Hang Them: The Tasmanians in Port Phillip, 1841-1842 (2016); Roving Mariners: Aboriginal Whalers in the Southern Oceans 1790-1870 (2012); Appropriated Pasts: Archaeology and Indigenous People in Settler Colonies, coauthored with Ian McNiven (2005); A Little Bird Told Me (2002); and Savage Imaginings: Historical and Contemporary Representations of Australian Aboriginalities (2001). She is the current President of the Australian Historical Association.


The Bicentennial Australian History Lecture is a biennial public lecture hosted by the Department of History in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney. Distinguished historians offer engaged and critical perspectives on Australia’s past and the legacies of colonisation.


[image credit: Joseph Lycett – Aborigines Resting by a Camp Fire near the Mouth of the Hunter River, Newcastle, NSW. (National Library of Australia)]

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General Lecture Theatre

The Quadrangle

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

View Map

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