Skip to main content

Available NOW. Monumental Disruptions – examining the impact of colonial commemorations on First Nations peoples in Australia

In the aftermath of Australia’s James Cook anniversary commemorations in June 2020 and the statue-toppling Black Lives Matter protests in the USA, dozens of police were sent to guard a statue of Cook in Hyde Park, Sydney. Despite the police presence, two women spray painted ‘sovereignty never ceded’ across the statue.

Around the world, societies are reassessing memorials that no longer reflect today’s values. Should such monuments be removed, destroyed or amended?

Monumental Disruptions: Aboriginal people and colonial commemorations in so-called Australia by Bronwyn Carlson and Terri Farrelly is a new title published by Aboriginal Studies Press that is essential reading for anyone interested in how a society commemorates and acknowledges its complex history.

The book investigates why commemorations were erected and the meaning these have for First Nations people in Australia while comparing Australia’s experience with that in other countries.

Professor Bronwyn Carlson is an Aboriginal scholar born and lives on D’harawal Country in NSW is the Head of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University and the Director of the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures. Professor Carlson is the founding and managing editor of the Journal of Global Indigeneity and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

‘Every year we are force-fed by media and politicians the idea that “Australia Day” is about reflecting on our past, respecting all Australians and celebrating our unique Australian identity,’ Professor Carlson says. ‘Indigenous peoples are demanding truth-telling and colonial commemorations are part of that. Globally, monuments have been toppled because they do not represent an honest account of historical events, and the praise bestowed upon many have been found undeserving.’

Dr Terri Farrelly lives and works on D’harawal Country as an independent research consultant and an Adjunct Fellow and Research Associate with the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University.

‘For me as a settler scholar who grew up surrounded by these statues and monuments and place names, the big moment of enlightenment in researching this book was gaining an understanding of the agenda behind these colonial commemorations,’ Dr Farrelly says. ‘The agenda was and continues to be, Black erasure and white permanence. But our book offers many stories and accounts about colonial commemorations that will make you see them in a whole different light.’


  • Paperback 
  • 368 pp 
  • Released: 20 February 2023
  • ISBN 9780855751159 / ISBN 9780855751197 (ePub) 

Media enquiries: or 0476 843 522 


Last updated: 21 February 2023