Teaching deep history in 2021

The Research Centre for Deep History will be contributing to several courses in the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

In Semester One, Laura Rademaker and Mike Jones are co-convening the School of History’s Seminar in Advanced Historiography for Honours and Masters students. The course will develop a critical understanding of diverse historiographical approaches in the discipline of history, and will be team-taught with Professor Frank Bongiorno, Professor Tim Rowse, and Director of the Research Centre for Deep History, Professor Ann McGrath.

Ann will be leading a four week module as part of the course, drawing upon the ARC Laureate Project ‘Rediscovering the Deep Human Past’ and reflecting on developments relating to the scale of history. Topics will include the Scale of History in the Anthropocene; Deep Hominid History; Geological History, DNA, and the Human Genome; and Aboriginal Memory.

Ben is co-convening the first year Australian Indigenous Studies course titled ‘Indigenous Peoples, Populations and Communities’. This course introduces students to the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, peoples, and societies. It focuses in part on the ways in which the philosophical frameworks of Indigenous ways of knowing have informed, and continue to inform, Indigenous ways of being and acting today. Taught from a range of perspectives the course provides students with an overview of Indigenous Studies and First peoples perspectives, knowledges, ways of being, and experiences in Australia.

Ben will also be contributing to Australian Archaeology, which will trace the long history of people on this continent. Working with archaeological, historical, climate and biological evidence, it will explore how we can understand the deep historical aspects of Aboriginal societies, such as how their economies operated, and how people perceived their society and environment.

Mike will also be contributing to the new intensive, Indigenous Heritage Management and Debates in Digital Heritage, which is part of the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies (Advanced). The course will introduce students to debates in heritage studies and museology about the implications of the ‘digital’ for how communities tell their histories in and about place—drawing on innovative projects and practices from Indigenous heritage management and stories of Country.

Then in Semester Two, Laura Rademaker and Mike Jones are co-convening a new subject, Decolonising History? Indigenous perspectives, deep history, and postcolonial challenges. The course considers transnational decolonial and postcolonial challenges to the discipline of history and asks: can history be decolonised? Linking Australian developments with international perspectives, it addresses themes including the challenge of ‘deep history’ to existing methodologies and periodisations; transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to history; questions of research ethics; decolonial movements related to archives, museums, and public heritage; and the diversity of historicities, or modes of knowing, telling and interpreting the past. Convened by the Research Centre for Deep History and the School of History with guest lecturers, the course will bring together a range of perspectives and voices.

All these subjects continue the Centre’s ongoing contribution to the development of high-quality research and teaching to advance the status, recognition, and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as outlined in the university’s Strategic Plan.

Prior teaching

Ben and Mike co-convened the School of History’s Seminar in Advanced Historiography for Honours and Masters students in 2020, which Ben and Laura had co-convened in 2019. In 2018 Ann, Laura and Ben led various modules in the course, when it was convened by Benjamin Jones.