GIST: For better or for worse: The Irish, the Aborigines and Australian colonisation

When:8 Sep 2011, 6pm - 7:30pm
Venue:Room 327 Robert Webster Building, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Professor Ann McGrath, Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Australian National University


Professor Ann McGrath - Professor of History and Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Australian National University

Many Irish Australians seek to return to Ireland to find their family roots. Equally, and for various reasons, Aboriginal people of Irish descent are also making reverse journeys to Ireland. This Lecture will consider the history of Irish immigrants to Australia in relation to Aboriginal Australians. It will pose the question as to whether historian Patrick O’Farrell’s assertions that the Irish were more likely to marry Aboriginal women can be sustained. It will also consider the belief that Irish Australians were ‘good’ colonisers - or at least more benevolent in their attitude and actions towards Aboriginal people. We know that Irish men and women formed unions and started families with Aboriginal men and women, but research into this topic is at an early stage. We should not ignore the fact that many children of Irish descent ended up as ‘stolen children’, removed from both father and mother, with all the associated trauma and suffering that this entailed.

Professor Ann McGrath’s research interests are gender, colonialism, film and the history of Indigenous relations in Australia and North America. She is interested in presenting scholarly history in a range of genres. Exhibitions curated include one on Women and Childbirth during the Federation era and one on International Outlaws as national heroes. She has produced the film A Frontier Conversation (Wonderland Productions, Ronin distributors, 2006) and has worked as an advisor on various television and film projects. Her consultancy and outreach work has included co-ordinating the history project of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, working as an expert witness in the Gunner & Cubillo case and in various Northern Territory land claims. She been been accepted as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to history, especially Indigenous history. Her work has also been recognized by the award of the Inaugural W.K. Hancock prize, the Human Rights Award for non-fiction, the John Barrett Prize, and the Archibald Hannah Junior Fellowship at the Beinecke Library, Yale.

Watch the lecture here on UNSWTV

Contact: Angela McLoughlin | T: 02 9385 7164 | E:

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