Annual History Lecture 2019

Counter Currents – Aboriginal men and Women at the Heart of Empire

Portrait of man in dark shirt.
John Maynard. Photo courtesy John Maynard
The Annual History Lecture is an event produced by the History Council of New South Wales every year in History Week, a state-wide celebration of History, which aims to engage and educate the community about the vitality, diversity and meaning of history and its practice.

In 2019, the History Council of New South Wales is honoured that Professor John Maynard (pictured) will deliver the Annual History Lecture with a paper entitled Counter Currents – Aboriginal men and Women at the Heart of Empire.

Largely unreported in the press or historical documents, Indigenous Australians traveled to Britain in significant numbers from the late eighteenth century through to the twenty-first century. Some of these travelers were performers, footballers, boxers, jockeys, athletes, soldiers, sailors and political activists. Innovative observers, they were intent on gaining as much information about the world around them as they could, utilising that knowledge within their rapidly changing world.

Other Aboriginal people had horrific experiences. Kidnapped and enslaved, they were eventually discarded on the far side of the world far from their homeland.

In this Annual History Lecture, Professor John Maynard will explore the significant and largely missed movement of Aboriginal people to Britain from the late eighteenth century through to the twenty first century. Through his lecture he will analyse memory and location in an Aboriginal context, far removed from the Australian experience, providing an Indigenous perspective and insight about these journeys, asking the key questions – Why were they there? What were the differences in experiences of these Aboriginal travelers? Did they come home, and if so, what experiences, memories, observations and understandings did they bring back with them of the lands outside Australia? In the lead up to 2020 and the 250th Anniversary of the arrival of James Cook and the Endeavour, this Annual History Lecture turns our attention toward Aboriginal people at the heart of empire rather than the periphery.


Professor John Maynard is of the Worimi people of Port Stephens, New South Wales. He was awarded a PhD examining the rise of early Aboriginal political activism from the University of Newcastle in 2003 and is Professor of Indigenous Education and Research (Indigenous History) at the University of Newcastle.

Over the past decade Professor John Maynard has established himself as the foremost Indigenous historian in Australia. His books Fight for Liberty and Freedom (shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s History Award), The Aboriginal Soccer Tribe (a highly commended finalist for the prestigious Walkley Award) and Aboriginal Stars of the Turf (Dymocks Readers Choice) have received high acclaim. His research has concentrated on the intersections of Aboriginal political and social history and made significant contributions to the research fields of Aboriginal, race relations and sports history both nationally and internationally.

Bookings are now open for the Annual History Lecture.

Bookings via History Council

Licensed event 18+

General $50

Concession/Member $45

When & Where

Tuesday 3 September 2019 6PM–9PM

The Mint

10 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000
+612 8239 2288

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