Director's welcome

Professor Ann McGrath, Director. Image by Adam Spence.


Hello out there! As Director, I extend a warm welcome from our Research Centre for Deep History.

It’s a pleasure to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of Canberra/Kambri, whose support we greatly appreciate. At our launch ceremony on 30 October 2019, the wonderful Aunty Matilda House welcomed our new Centre. She pointed out the significance of deep history to future generations, explaining how she taught Indigenous history to her grandchildren.

I’ve had the privilege of working in the field of Indigenous history in Australia and North America for most of my career, including as inaugural Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History. But I have been frustrated by the way historians, myself included, tend to start their histories with the European ‘discovery’ of Australia in 1770 and then the arrival of convicts in 1788. Why should European discovery narratives mark the beginning point of Australian history? Europeans could not logically ‘discover’ Australia when people were living in it, and nor can today’s researchers ‘discover’ the Indigenous deep past, for it will always be a rediscovery of a lived experience.

The 2017 Uluru Statement From the Heart, which called for recognition of Australia’s ancient sovereignty, is particularly inspiring. It posed this important question: how could it be ‘That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?’

Myself and the team are committed to leading research that goes beyond that European arrival date. This Centre emerges out of our Laureate Program, Rediscovering the Deep Human Past: Global Networks, Future Opportunities. It will build upon the prior work of the Deepening Histories of Place ARC Linkage project which involved a collaboration with Terri Janke and Company, developing protocols and templates to ensure best practice in relation to Indigenous Intellectual Property.

Professor Ann McGrath
Director, Research Centre for Deep Historyteam
Launch of the Research Centre for Deep History. L-R: Professor Asmi Wood, Professor Ann McGrath, Dr Matilda House, Professor Rae Frances, Professor Brian Schmidt. Image by Adam Spence.

We acknowledge and celebrate the First Australians on whose traditional lands we meet, and pay our respect to the elders past, present, and emerging.

All rights reserved ® Research Centre for Deep History, 2020

The School of History, The Australian National University