IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - An Australian Experiment: 100 years in search of meaning (Dr Tom Murray, Macquarie University, Australia )
The story of Douglas Grant first came to Australian public attention in 1916 through a series of newspaper articles. He is introduced as a ‘sergeant in the King’s forces’ who is about to ship to World War I. The earliest versions of the story focus on how a ‘full-blood Aboriginal’ was taken from his family among the Indigenous rainforest nations of far north Queensland and grew up in Sydney, gaining numerous accomplishments.
The story is told in order to arrive at a singular conclusion: ‘this brief history demonstrates what may be done with an aboriginal when taken early and trained’. In other words, Douglas Grant’s life story is remade as experimental evidence for Aboriginal assimilation into Anglo-colonial society. For the last 100 years numerous biographical attempts on Douglas Grant’s life have yielded conclusions about the possibility of Aboriginal and Australian Settler-Colonial state relationships. Taken together these 100 years of biographical ‘storytellings’ on the life of Douglas Grant yield a fascinating insight into a history of 20th Century racial science, settler-colonial historiography, and the shifting position of Indigenous Australians in the narrative of Australia.
This lecture is free and open to all.
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