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The Killing Times is a remarkable web project documenting the history of Australia’s frontier wars through the development of an interactive digital map of the sites of colonial frontier massacres. The visual power of the mapped sites is immediate, and its impact only deepens when filtered by date range, or perpetrator group, or death count. The sites are overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, sites of massacre of Aboriginal people. They have been painstakingly identified and corroborated from a wide range of sources including settler diaries, explorers’ journals, newspaper reports, Aboriginal testimony, Parliamentary papers, government archival sources and much more.
Although the core collaborators in this project have been academics from the University of Newcastle and journalists associated with Guardian Australia, the great power of the website is the platform that it provides. It enables further historical content to be built, using templates and guidelines established by the Newcastle project, and the collaboration to be extended through the capacity to dynamically engage other contributors.
The Killing Times makes a profoundly important contribution to history and public debate in Australia. It harnesses the capacity of interactive technology to open up the contested political space of the ‘history wars’ and shows the power of technology to sweep aside national myths to reveal a violent and quotidian world of fatal clashes between Indigenous Australians and settlers. By pairing contemporary sources with cutting edge technology, the creators of The Killing Times have produced a resource that challenges, provokes and demands more from Australians.