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Ngapartji Ngapartji

Ngapartji Ngapartji: In turn, in turn: Ego-histoire, Europe and Indigenous Australia OPEN ACCESS

Vanessa Castejon
Anna Cole
Oliver Haag
Karen Hughes
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Ngapartji Ngapartji
    Book Description:

    In this innovative collection, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars from Australia and Europe reflect on how their life histories have impacted on their research in Indigenous Australian Studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-73-8
    Subjects: History, Anthropology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Theoretical Introduction
    • Vanessa Castejon, Anna Cole, Oliver Haag and Karen Hughes

      These are stories, histories. They emerged in part from encounters between scholars from Australia and Europe that offered a transnational way to think about culture, class, ethnicity, identity, inbetweenness and whiteness in Australian Indigenous studies. Our intention was to weave together professional and personal accounts of studies that have Australia and Indigeneity at their heart. The origins of this book lie in a discussion between Anna Cole and Vanessa Castejon that took place after a European Australian Studies conference at the Universitat de Barcelona’s Centre d’Estudis Australians in 2008. Over breakfast they wondered why many of the Australian scholars speaking...

    • Pierre Nora

      With this volume, Gallimard’sBibliothèque des Histoirescollection has produced a different kind of book. It is not the product of an investigation; it is more a laboratory experiment in which historians attempt to turn themselves into historians. These are documents, which will be treated as such by future historians, but documents also at one remove; not those that historians normally use, but ones which, for once, they have agreed to write about themselves. These essays can, and should, be read as they were written, independently of each other. But their writing, which has responded to a pressing need, and...

  2. Self and History
    • Victoria Grieves

      Sometimes I think I was born an historian. I was certainly a child who asked many, many questions. This was often a burden and an embarrassment to my mixed-race mother, who could be identified as Aboriginal in some contexts, and who was anxious to fly under the radar in conformist and settled rural New South Wales of the 1950s and 1960s.

      On reflection, this is paradoxical, since it was the stories and memories of my mother, told to me in the isolated life we lived together, that inspired my interest in the past and the forces that shaped our lives....

    • Bill Edwards

      Despite an interest in history during school years, my engagement in postgraduate historical research was delayed until retirement. My childhood home was in the town of Lubeck, in the Wimmera district of Victoria, where my paternal grandparents, having migrated from Wales, opened a general store in 1877. My parents later conducted this business until retirement in 1952. In the 1930s, the population of Lubeck, with its store, post office, hotel, school, hall, two churches and railway station, was approximately 75, with a similar number living on farms in the surrounding area. Living in this small country town, it was beyond...

    • Roslyn Poignant

      My book,Professional Savages: Captive Lives and western Spectacle,was the outcome of a project that extended over many years in which I aimed to make sense of, and make a narrative of, what happened to a group of nine Manbarra and Biyaygirri Aborigines from North Queensland—Billy, Toby, Jenny, Tambo, Sussy, Jimmy, and the others—who were removed overseas by the showman R. A. Cunningham in 1883, and who toured extensively through America and Europe. By following the routes they had taken, and by drawing on sources, ranging from unreliable newspaper accounts of the period to culturally blinkered anthropological...

    • Karen Hughes

      In 1997, I accompanied the oldest Ngarrindjeri person, the distinguished storyteller, Aunty Hilda Wilson, then aged 86 and becoming a staunch friend, home to Country, to the Aboriginal community of Raukkan, the former Point McLeay Mission on the southern edge of Lake Alexandrina. Aunty Hilda was born there in 1911, a year that marked the legal separation of South Australian Aboriginal and settler peoples with the passing of theSA Aborigines Act 1911.²As we stepped onto the shore of Lake Alexandrina, she led me to a clump of rushes in the sand, where her mother, Olive Varcoe (née Rankine),...

    • Franca Tamisari

      Since the beginning of my career as an anthropology undergraduate in the mid-80s, and then as a PhD student in the early 90s at the London School of Economics, I have been aware of the issues raised by the so-called reflexive turn in the discipline. I was, in fact, particularly affected by the methodological and ethical concerns of what is known as ‘cultural critique’ or more generally the ‘politics of representation’: dismantling the power of the interpreter, the strategies of othering, as well as debunking the pitfalls of essentialism, the illusion of objective truth, and the partiality of ethnography (Clifford...

    • Jan Idle

      It is a very hot day in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia; really hot and very dry. It is the kind of day when the shimmer of the temperature distorts the horizon line of the Indian Ocean that I can see when we go to swim. The beach is ten minutes walk from my parents’ house, a 1970s dream home, originally with shag pile carpet, which has long been replaced. On days like this it is too hot to walk, and we drive for our mid-morning swim, the second swim of the day. The heat from the bitumen...

    • Oliver Haag

      This chapter explores the different discourses of race as they affected my position as a German-speaking scholar of Indigenous Australian studies. There are difficulties, at times even impossibilities, in translating Australian meanings of race into a German-speaking context. The silencing of ‘race’ in German-speaking academia, especially in leftist circles, has led to a difficulty to reclaim difference. This silencing was cracked in Australia, where I had suddenly ‘inherited’ more than one race. The retranslation of these discourses into German-speaking contexts meant, again, a loss of my race and proved a difficulty for German-speaking scholars to handle a concept so profound...

  3. Out of Place
    • Barry Judd

      As a scholar from an Aboriginal background who is deeply embedded in the western academe and its claims to universal truth, in this chapter I consider the possibility that Australian Indigenous studies may simply function to re-inscribe the power/knowledge claims of European ideas. This outcome is contrary to the stated claims of the field, which proclaims to offer an anti-colonial platform from which Indigenous peoples can be heard within the academe. Seeking to expose the problematic relationship that exists between Australian Indigenous studies and the European ideas that underpin its critical gaze, my discussion takes place in the context of...

    • Jane Haggis

      I admit I had not come across the term ego-histoire until sent a flier for the conference that stimulated this volume. My attention was caught immediately, however, as I crudely translated the subtlety of the French phrase into English as ‘self-history’. This seemed to echo precisely my own broad methodological engagements with the relationship between myself as feminist scholar and the subjects of my writing. What story was I telling, from where, and whose? Did ego-histoire offer another avenue to pursue my politico-intellectual search for an ethical writing practice sufficient to render the past and present in tones appropriate to...

    • John Docker

      I am a cultural historian, which I feel gives me a licence to wander. Over the decades I have been interested in literary and cultural theory, popular culture, postmodernism and poststructuralism, monotheism and polytheism, diaspora, historiography, Jewish identity, and Gandhian non-violence. I have always written personally, mixing theory and analysis with life stories and family history, and am currently writing an ego-histoire,Growing Up Communist and Jewish in Bondi: Memoir of a non-Australian Australian.Since the mid-1980s, I have written critiques of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, and reflected on partition in Palestine and India, and Martin Buber’s idea of...

    • Helen Idle

      At the entrance to the exhibiton of Australian Indigenous art in the German city of Cologne in 2011, ‘Remembering Forward: Australian Aboriginal Painting since 1960’, I can just see over the shoulder of the gallery guard collecting tickets and into the first room. On a near wall I see something familiar. I recognise colours, texture and shape, and am brought to tears. I’ve sat on the ground in Gija country with my hand resting on the ochres of pink, white and yellow, similar to those used in the painting I see now. In Purnululu, under a deep overhanging rockface carved...

    • Rosemary van den Berg

      Aboriginal life stories during the 1980s and 1990s changed the face of Australian history and literature. Aside from a few important exceptions, prior to these times Aboriginal life stories had not emerged as a genre and the majority of life stories at this time were penned by white writers and were semi-fictional. Sally Morgan’s bookMy Place(Morgan 1988) marks the beginning of a new genre of Aboriginal life writing and other Aboriginal people followed her lead by publishing their stories. These stories made a significant intervention into Australian history, telling first-hand how Aboriginal people survived under the strict state...

  4. Tales of Mystery and Imagination
    • 15. Home Talk (pp. 211-226)
      Jeanine Leane

      This is a story about how I came to write. In 2010, when I was in my late 40s, I completed a PhD and wrote a volume of poetry and a novel. This is a story. It is not an essay or an article or a treatise or anything else that ‘scholarly’ writing is called in western literature. This is a story because Aboriginal people live for and by stories. This is the story about how I came to write all that I did and how I came to find my place and my voice in a nation that until...

    • Gillian Cowlishaw

      It is autumn 1999 and the vigorous crashing of the metal knocker on the front door of my house in Glebe has me in a state of alarm as I leave the quiet study and run downstairs. I open the door to a dark, dishevelled figure, wild hair, lean and edgy. A gravelly, menacing voice says, ‘I’ve come to make a land claim on this property’. The grim expression dissolves as I exclaim, ‘Frank Doolan!’ He shakes my hand with a flamboyant black man’s double gesture, still tense, ready to cut and run, ready for a fight—or fun. ‘How...

    • May-Britt Öhman and Frances Wyld

      This article brings together two Indigenous scholars who have come to better know their Indigenous history as they story it alongside their work as historians and academics. We find that the historical landscape changes when family history is better understood: time and space become embodied, history becomes personal. Sámi scholar May-Britt Öhman speaks of singing to the hillside in a ‘Sound of Music’ style, and then feeling forced to break out of song and into yoik.¹ Similarly, Aboriginal Australian scholar Frances Wyld writes about her connection to land and family history, including a visit to desert Australia where she no...

    • Stephen Muecke

      Because there’s another Stephen Muecke who isn’t a gardiya, who works at the uni, writes lots of weird stuff. It is a question of style—I want to argue the point, and I can’t do that in Paddy Roe’s narrative style (Roe 1983) that I have just been reproducing, respectfully—you have to shift your language if you want move your argument along and take it somewhere where it does seem to matter. There are no new thoughts without some kind of new style, as Nietzsche said (Nietzsche 1996, p. 342). And there is a geography as well, styles have...

    • Philip Morrissey

      The invitation to submit an essay as part of this collection on ego-histoire has enabled me to reflect on a series of intra-Aboriginal narratives between different peoples along the Tweed River that I had been exposed to in my early childhood. Over the passage of time, I have begun to understand how these narratives (and vivid fragments of story) have formed my basic dispositions, in a manner analogous to the Bourdieuan concept ofhabitus.Bourdieu seeshabitusas ‘a system of lasting, transposable dispositions which, integrating past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions’...

    • Gillian Whitlock

      Ego-histoire is an unlikely import into Australian Indigenous studies. At least so it seemed to me in Paris in December 2011 at the conference that became a prehistory to this collection of essays. I listened as a non-Indigenous Australian researcher, sharing a concern for ethical ways of living, researching and teaching in Aboriginal country, and wondered why it was that ego-histoire was so confronting, and so unfamiliar in its address to Indigenous Australian studies. A number of writers here reflect this uneasiness, and in Pierre Nora’s essay ‘Is “Ego-Histoire” Possible?’ (translated here in the Appendix) we see why this is...