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RAHS/ISAA Lecture – The Real Sacred River: Truth-Telling and the Power of Regional Histories

April 21 @ 14:00 - 15:00


The Royal Australian Historical Society and the  NSW Chapter of the Independent Scholars Association (ISAA) present:

The Real Sacred River: Truth-Telling and the Power of Regional Histories

In 2017 human rights lawyer Professor Megan Davis called for a nationwide program of truth-telling through local and regional Aboriginal histories as an essential step towards Makarrata. These histories must acknowledge dispossession, frontier conflict and massacres, but Davis envisages more: deeper, fuller histories involving Aboriginal people themselves; histories that are alive to cultural and spiritual continuities, strategic negotiations, family and community, and the recovery and recognition of significant Aboriginal places and landscapes.

How might such collaborative projects be established?  How can traditional text-based research be revisited and reinterpreted for this kind of history?  How can we use other records, like archaeological and art sites, maps and mapping, photographs, oral testimony, linguistics, ecology and landscapes and, most importantly, Traditional Knowledge?

Regional history is a powerful way to explore the implications, possibilities and challenges of truth-telling that includes but goes beyond frontier violence and massacre history. I will present some of the findings from a current collaborative project, The Real Secret River: Dyarubbin.

About the speaker:

Photo Credit: Joy Lai

Grace Karskens is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales. She is a leading authority on early colonial Australia and also works in cross-cultural and environmental history.

Grace began her career as a public historian and has a lifelong commitment to bringing good history to wide audiences. She is an active contributor to several significant cultural organisations, including Sydney Living Museums, the State Library of New South Wales and the online Dictionary of Sydney project.

Grace’s books include Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighbourhood and the multi-award winning The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney.  Her book The Colony: A History of Early Sydney won the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the US Urban History Association’s prize for Best Book 2010. Grace’s essay ‘Nah Doongh’s Song’ won Australian Book Review’s 2019 Calibre prize, and her latest book, People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.


April 21
14:00 - 15:00
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9247 8001
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