Multi-generational Aboriginal History Research and its Capacity to Transform Perceptions of Our Ancestors

Monday, 1 July 2019
Shauna Bostock-Smith

I have traced the history of my four Aboriginal grandparents' family lines back to the settlement of northern New South Wales. Spanning five generations, this epic study is supported by a stockpile of archives, photographs and documents that illuminate my ancestors’ lived experience; from being on country during white settlement, to segregation on Aborigines reserves and missions; to Aborigines Protection Board control, to the big city exodus, to urban radicalization, to fighting for Aboriginal advancement, to the present day. To enhance this two dimensional, past to present chronology – I have found it very valuable to frequently change the lens of the site. By pausing the past-to-present progress of the thesis to either, zoom into the individual, local and micro-history—before zooming out to the collective, political, and macro-history—this history is imbued with an almost three dimensional solidity. If we place this multi-generational family history on a larger scale of history such as Big History, we can fully comprehend the cataclysmic impact of white invasion on Aboriginal people, and realise how far Aboriginal people have come from such complete devastation, in such a relative short amount of time. This paper will answer the question of why Multi-generational family history research has the capacity to transform perceptions of our ancestors.