Director's blog

  • Director's Blog - Mid Year Reflections

    Reaching July and the middle of our calendar year reminds me that this month's name honoured Julius Caesar. Fascinating though it is, I’m taken aback by the chronologically recent nature of the ‘ancient history’ of Rome compared with the deep history of the peoples of the Australian continent. This mid-year blog provides some moments to focus upon the active roles of our **Research Centre’s** [Collaborating Scholars (CS)]( as well as other activities. This year we launched **Cross-campus Interdisciplinary Lunch Gatherings**. The inaugural one in March centred on the theme of *Water* with **CS Quentin Grafton** and team. The second was an extensive conversation with **CS Azure Hermes** of the *National Centre for Indigenous Genomics*. The most recent one concentrated on the *Rock Art* theme with **CS Robert Wellington, CS Duncan Wright, CS Catherine Frieman** and a number of impressive and helpful *art and archaeology* experts from across the ANU and the University of Canberra. **CS Brenda Croft** will be playing a key role in the next lunch gathering, to coincide with her coming exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery – we will keep you posted on that. **CS Annie Clarke** and **CS Bruce Buchan** joined us last year as **official RSSS visitors**. Although their stays were COVID19-interrupted, Annie was able to return and we are hoping that Bruce can do so later this year. Another **CS, Charlotte Feakins**, who now works with GML Heritage, partnered with us to convene the *First Nations Speaker Series* with Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow **Ben Silverstein**. [CS Leah Lui Chivizhe]( was featured as the first speaker. With only one COVID19 postponement, **Laura Rademaker** managed [a rock art trip]( to the Northern Territory with **CS Sally May**, with a forthcoming publication ‘Quilp’s Horse: Rock art and the artist life-biography in Western Arnhem Land, Australia’ by Sally K. May, Joakim Goldhahn, Laura Rademaker, Graham Badari and Paul S. C. Taçon appearing soon. **CS Mary Anne Jebb** has joined us as a Consultant to work with communities in Western Australia, including the Mowanjum people who have recently opened a new [Aboriginal Art and Culture centre]( in Derby. Several other Collaborating Scholars are working with us on various publication projects, including **CS Daniel Smail, Linda Barwick and Sarah Yu**. **Shauna Bostock-Smith**, who completed her PhD with flying colours, was to have her degree officially conferred at a Graduation Ceremony in July. We are terribly disappointed that COVID19 has led to the cancellation of the ANU’s July Graduation ceremony. Such an outstanding achievement, and I was looking forward to celebrating her thesis and meeting her family at this special event. On the upside, however, Shauna has joined us as a Collaborating Scholar and we will be seeing her at the Peter Read Event and our Early Career Workshops between the 8-10 September. ## The Mungo Map In March, I drove out to Mildura and Balranald, to meet up with families involved in the Lake Mungo/Willandra Lakes region and its deep history. I joined **CS Kim Mahood**, who has worked as a cultural mapping consultant with community members over several years. ![local_elders_annmcgrath_mildura.jpg](/uploads/local_elders_annmcgrath_mildura_4ed03a9a4b.jpg) ###### Eunice Hudson, Michael Young, Priscilla Briggs, Ann McGrath, Patricia Johnson at Magenta Woolshed, Mildura. Photo by Kim Mahood. Kim has painted and drawn the map on a large canvas that now tells the story of the Mutthi Mutthi, Barkintji and Ngyaampa peoples. All content has been supplied by the family members, including the Kellys, the Kennedys, the Johnsons, the Mitchells and others. ![cultural_map_consultation_mildura.jpg](/uploads/cultural_map_consultation_mildura_e58642ed19.jpg) ###### Kim Mahood confirming the map information with members of the Mitchell family at the Magenta Woolshed, Inland Botanical Gardens, Mildura We held meetings with local elders and families at their homes, in community spaces, and at the big woolshed located at the Inland Botanical Gardens. These were to check that all participants were happy with everything they had entered on the map. New material was also added. [ANU’s press release]( sparked a lot of media interest. Whether displayed on a footpath, in an old woolshed or in the rose garden of the Mildura Grand, the map attracted attention everywhere it was exhibited. With the initial contact made by **CS Shirleene Robinson**, a large team from the National Library of Australia visited us to assess the map for digitalization and conservation. We will keep you posted on developments. ![mungo_map1.JPEG](/uploads/mungo_map1_1b2adcd8b2.JPEG) ###### National Library experts visited our Centre to assess the Mungo map for scanning and digitalization in June. We aim to organise a regional launch and possibly a travelling **exhibition**. Led by Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow **Mike Jones**, with Web Developer and Designer **Tabs Fakier**, we will also be working to ensure that the map will spread far and wide via a digital life. Participants are keen to supply family photos, videos and additional information for the digital version. ![mungo_map2.JPEG](/uploads/mungo_map2_c1b2892e4a.JPEG) ###### National Library experts visited our Centre to assess the Mungo map for scanning and digitalization in June. From the perspective of myself as a historian, this map speaks back to all the maps we saw on our classroom walls: the ones that featured only European explorers and navigators. It presents a different kind of history – of Country and strong family connection; one that pinpoints the precise locations where people lived and worked - key family moments, beloved ancestors, their marriages, births, deaths. It shows the upheaval of forcible removal to missions and the removal of children. It also demonstrates the importance of Aboriginal workers to the pastoral industry, to railways and infrastructure. Travel restrictions continue to impede our **fieldwork** plans. I was supposed to be heading to Broome and Derby right now with **CS Mary Anne Jebb** to be part of the launch of the [Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre]( but Western Australia has imposed a hard border on just about everywhere, and a harder one on remote Aboriginal communities. We look forward to working with Mary Anne on the **Marking Country Digital Atlas project**. Fortunately, Postdoctoral Fellows **Mike Jones** and **Ben Silverstein** managed to travel to Broome for their Thangoo Station Project in north Western Australia, part of ANU’s Grand Challenges scheme, led by **CS Maria Nugent** and **CS Lawrence Bamblett**, and assisted by **CS Sarah Yu** and one of the ECRs we have helped mentor, **Naomi Appleby**. Yawuru people recorded accounts of their histories of connection. We thank Partner organisation [Nyamba Buru Yawuru]( for their generosity in agreeing to partner with us. We also thank our **CS Peter Veth** for providing helpful advice during their stopover in Perth. **Mike Jones** and I have been meeting up with staff of the Queensland Museum, talking with curators, including **CS Britt Asmussen** and colleagues. In June, Mike and I also travelled to Cape York, North Queensland with astrophysicist and fellow Laureate **Lisa Kewley**, to join Johnny Murison of [Jarramali Rock Art Tours]( for an introduction to the art and culture of Quinkan Country. More on this soon. And finally, thanks to the sage advice of the **Centre’s Indigenous Advisory Committee** and to Professors **Lynette Russell** and **Jaky Troy** and **Dr Lorina Barker** for their collaboration in publishing ventures and conference panels. ![Mike, Ann, et al.jpg](/uploads/Mike_Ann_et_al_f35f2d34d0.jpg) ###### L-R Mike Jones, Ann McGrath, Lisa Kewley and Johnny Murison at Jarramali Camp. Photo by the team. ## Esteemed Honorary Professor It has been a great pleasure to welcome Honorary Professor **Jackie Huggins** to the Australian National University as a highly esteemed colleague. Thanks to Jackie, we recently had a wonderful book-launch by Queensland Minister Leeanne Enoch for the re-release of our co-edited volume with Emeritus Professor Kay Saunders, Aboriginal Workers. An accomplished historian and distinguished Indigenous leader, Jackie is playing a key role in leading the Queensland Treaty process. Jackie has agreed to serve as the Senior Advisor on our Marking Country Digital Atlas project.

Latest news and events

  • Live streaming: building the Re. atlas

    My name is Tabs. I design and develop digital content for the Research Centre for Deep History (RCDH). Developing and maintaining the main website has been my primary focus thus far, as well as posting updates to the ANU’s School of History website. This is shifting to designing and developing a digital atlas - a technical deliverable of the [ARC Laureate program 'Rediscovering the Deep Human Past']( - and mapping projects.. We hope to have an alpha version ready by late 2021. Working as a developer with humanities research can be a challenge. The context in which we’re building affects the design and development process; most notably, who we’re collecting data from and who we’re designing for. There are additional layers of complexity involved surrounding ethics protocols and sanitising data. Communicating the difficulties and nuances of technology to non-developers requires practice. Transforming academic research into something understandable and potentially enjoyable by a wider audience requires a skillset beyond the ability to code; incredible experiences are quite often created by entire teams for this reason. As a result, I’ve been thinking about how to help people understand more about the work I’m involved in as part of my ongoing interest in supporting training and capability development. One of the ways I’m planning to do this is live streaming. Live streaming – broadcasting online in real time – has increased significantly in number of streamers and viewership with the onset of COVID-19. The most popular streaming platform, Twitch, surpassed [five billion hours watched as of Q2 2020]( The number of viewers increased, and so did the number of streamers – Twitch alone now has more than nine million unique channels. I have one of them. I [started streaming]( for two reasons: I wanted to handle myself in front of a camera (a lifelong struggle!), and to engage with the wider technical community. Since mid-2020 I have been coding live, gaming live, and hosted community ‘slackathons’ (like a hackthon minus time-constraints, and not restricted to code). It’s been an unexpectedly valuable learning process. Project types generally streamed are SaaS apps, small business websites, or games. While they’re amazing and it is fantastic accompanying streamers working through the creative process that is coding, project field diversity is lacking. Software projects related to the Arts or Social Sciences are few and far between, and academic involvement in projects is near non-existent. I intend to give the work I do for RCDH some visibility. If the average developer learns about transforming academic research, or a non-developer understands that design and development can be a hair-tearing process, I’d be ecstatic. I will likely be streaming work-related content on Mondays, and [will add streams to my schedule]( ahead of time. You will only require a Twitch account if you’d like to type in chat. Please feel free to engage, provide feedback, and ask as many questions as you like. I have had viewers keep quiet in an effort not to distract me – but if I didn’t want to be engaged with I wouldn’t be coding on a platform that encourages it! Please note that Twitch is similar to Twitter in the sense that personal and work content can be inextricably intertwined. I stream personal projects and content outside of my work. All opinions are my own. My channel is []( If you have any queries, comments, or 'slackathon’ project suggestions I can be contacted via my [ANU email]( or [Twitter](
  • First Nations Histories towards Social Justice and Institutional change

    This seminar features three speakers who have been at the centre of movements for institutional, national, and international change. This expert panel will address the role of historical research and work in and towards public or governmental institutions to create political change.

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