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Family histories and the memory of nations: Reflections on my great-grandmother’s fight against Aboriginal child removal in the 1930s with Victoria Haskins
Presented as part of 'A Foreign Country: Travels through the Past' series
'A Foreign Country: Travels through the Past' is a series of fortnightly lectures hosted by the State Library of NSW on Tuesday evenings at 5.30 pm between 31 August and 9 November 2021.
The history of the Stolen Generations is, we acknowledge, one of the most profoundly troubling, and important histories in our nation’s past — prominently discussed, contested and debated in the public sphere since the late twentieth century. In this talk, I reflect upon the extraordinary story of my great-grandmother Joan Kingsley-Strack, and her personal campaign against the policies of child removal in NSW during the 1930s. The porous boundaries between historical narratives of the nation and the memory-work in our own families can be mapped in her story, and indeed in all family histories. At a time when truth-telling is needed more than ever before, understanding the complexity of histories and memories held within families is critical.
Victoria Haskins FAHA is Professor of History and co-Director of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre at the University of Newcastle. She works on histories of gender, labour and colonialism, and her books include Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific (Bloomsbury, 2018), with Julia Martinez, Claire Lowrie and Frances Steel, Living with the Locals (National Library of Australia, 2017), with John Maynard, and, on Joan Kingsley-Strack, One Bright Spot (Palgrave 2005).
A Foreign Country: Travels through the Past series includes
- 31 August Will Christie, ‘A public lecture on public lecturing’
- 14 September Anna Johnston, ‘The platypus journal and the felon press: Science and print culture in colonial Tasmania’
- 28 September Trevor Burnard, ‘Legacies of Atlantic slavery and British colonialism’
- 12 October Victoria Haskins, ‘Family histories and the memory of nations: Reflections on my great-grandmother’s fight against Aboriginal child removal in the 1930s’
- 26 October Mark Kenny, ‘Lucky but lame — Australia’s unhappy relationship with risk’
- 9 November Jennifer Milam, ‘Thomas Jefferson’s gardens’