Clark, Anna: Friday essay: the “great Australian silence” 50 years on

Anna Clark

Friday essay: the “great Australian silence” 50 years on‘, The Conversation, 3 August 2018 updated

Marks the 50th anniversary of the famous Boyer lectures by anthropologist WEH Stanner, which drew attention to Australian reluctance to confront our Indigenous history.

After a long analysis of aspects of Australian historiography over five decades, Clark concludes:

Indigenous perspectives have increasingly informed, critiqued and revised historical approaches. But Indigenous histories are often relegated to “memoir”, “story”, “family history”, “narratives of place” or “political protest”, rather than acknowledged as part of a disciplinary practice. And with the possible exception of oral history and pre-history/deep time, there is still a marked absence of Indigenous historiography in Australia’s historical “canon”.

We may have developed new critical approaches, and a growing understanding of the genealogy of historical “silence”. Yet the meaning and the consequences of that understanding are still a work in progress.

For other references to Stanner on the Honest History site, particularly in the work of Paul Daley, one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, use our Search engine. Anna Clark is also a distinguished supporter of Honest History. See also our four years of resources on First Peoples.

See also around this time: Paul Daley on the Indigenous spirits of the Bathurst area; Richard Flanagan at Garma on the importance of the Uluru Statement and Makarrata; Cooper, Williams and Spooner on when Aboriginal people first arrived in Australia; a new and revised edition of a classic book from Henry Reynolds: This Whispering in Our Hearts Revisited.

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