HoW: History on Wednesday seminar series 25 September
Mark McKenna | University of Sydney
Finding the Centre: Uluru and the legacies of Australia’s frontier
The centre of Australia – geographical, political, psychological & ‘spiritual’ – is an elastic idea with a long history. As the literary scholar Roslynn Haynes remarked in 1998: ‘Because Australia is the only island continent, the notion of its centre has acquired a unique significance’. We do not ‘conceptualise the centre of any other continent’ in quite the same way. In this seminar, I’ll explore how and why Australians have become preoccupied with the idea of ‘the centre’ and how their ideas have changed over time. In doing so, I’ll pay particular attention to Uluru and its relatively recent invention as the ‘spiritual centre’ of the nation, a change that was dramatically illustrated by the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in May 2017. Entangled with this history is the story of the shooting of an Aboriginal man at Uluru in 1934, an event that has continued to resonate as Uluru has become a place of national and international significance.
Mark McKenna is Professor of History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of several prize-winning books, including The Captive Republic: A History of Republicanism in Australia 1788-1996, Looking for Blackfellas’ Point: an Australian History of Place, An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark, and From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories. In this seminar, Mark will draw on a chapter from his forthcoming book, Untitled (2020).
The Department of History hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Everyone is welcome to attend.
HoW will be held in the MECO Seminar Room S226
Woolley Building A20
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The Department of History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI)