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Families, Places and Pasts: Whose history? And who decides?

2014 November 8

Snapshot colonial armidaleI am delighted to have been invited to give the 2014 John Ferry memorial lecture at the University of New England in Armidale in New South Wales on Wednesday 26 November at 6pm in A3 in the Arts Building, Armidale NSW 2351.

I have read Ferry’s Colonial Armidale with interest and have used it to think through my lecture. As I have said in the blurb, there is never just one history constructed for all time: histories are constantly contested and disputed. I am going to explore the different ways in which we all make histories from our varying past experiences. Because people have left traces in the landscape and in the stories that we pass down in families we can, if we choose, make histories from these fragments for the present.

I am drawing on a range of examples that include words written in wet concrete in a pow camp in the 1940s, words scratched on a church window in the Western Highlands in the 1840s, the range of histories constructed in the New South Wales pioneer town of Gundagai and poems and paintings.

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