Time Immemorial? Dates, History and the Deep Human Past

The Order of Australia Association (OAA)-ACT Branch in partnership with The Australian National University invites you to the 2018 OAA-ANU Lecture presented by Professor Ann McGrath AM.

The concept of time immemorial has poetic resonance, but it also has legal and historical import, dating back to Blackstone’s commentaries on the Laws of England in the eighteenth century. This lecture will discuss its uses by the Cherokee in the United States in the 1830s and in more recent Australian cases. Although Australia’s Indigenous past has often been referred to as ‘timeless’, new archaeological research is delivering a series of hard dates, as well as evidence of inventions and dynamism.

Can new periodizations of the deep past insert themselves into the collective imagination like the anniversaries of British ‘landings’ and ‘discovery’? For the purpose of developing a ‘deep history’ beyond European memory, historians would need to pay attention to Indigenous modes of historical practice and to develop new techniques for understanding Indigenous art, landscape-based memory practices and narratives. More radically, they may need to go beyond dates and to consider other kinds of temporality.

Ann McGrath AM is the Kathleen Fitzpatrick ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of History at the Australian National University. Her Laureate project is entitled ‘Rediscovering the Deep Human Past: Global Networks, Future Opportunities.’ She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the Academy of Humanities. Her most recent book, Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia won the NSW Premiers History Prize, General Category, 2016. She researches and presents history in a range of mediums, including the prize-winning film Message from Mungo (Ronin Films 2014, with Andrew Pike) and in digital works. She co-wrote How to Write History that People Want to Read with Ann Curthoys (2009 2011), and with Mary-Anne Jebb, she co-edited Long History, Deep Past (2015).

Ann was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to education, particularly in the fields of indigenous history, as a teacher, researcher and author, and through leadership roles with a range of history-related organisations. She was appointed a Member in the Order in 2017 for significant service to the social sciences as an academic and researcher in the field of indigenous history, and to tertiary education.

Light refreshments will be served following the lecture.

Date and time
Wed 03 Oct 2018, 5.30–6.30PM

Common Room, University House, 1 Balmain Crescent, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 2601

Hear the lecture on SoundCloud.