ICS Seminar Series – Tim Rowse and Emma Waterton

Date: Thursday 16 June 2016
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EB.2.02, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Tim Rowse and Emma Waterton

(Institute for Culture and Society)

Indigenous/Non-Indigenous Distinction in the Politics of Australia's Military Heritage


This paper arises from the project 'Australian Cultural Fields' – whose tasks include considering the significance of certain valorised distinctions in cultural production and consumption – such as the Indigenous/non-Indigenous distinction. What happens when that distinction becomes significant in the field of Australian Military Heritage? We answer this question by intervening in the debate about whether and how the 'Frontier Wars' should be represented in Australia's Military Heritage. We point out that certain historical events have been, so far (and perhaps forever), excluded from Indigenous military heritage: those associated with the 'service' of Aboriginal people in the Native Mounted Police (NMP). The NMP were employed in New South Wales (when it included the Port Phillip Protectorate, later known as Victoria), South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, from 1842 until the 1890s. While the archival record is patchy, scholarship tells us that, in their pacification of frontiers, the NMP killed many Aboriginal people. Should their actions be remembered as Indigenous 'military service'? This question arises also in New Zealand, where some Maori fought for the Crown in the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s and 1870s. 'Indigenous patriotism' is perhaps a more complicated phenomenon than has been considered by those whose critique of Military Heritage is rooted in a politics of Indigenous identity. We point to a tradition of remembrance that eschews 'identity', and propose an alternative to extant appeals to 'patriotism'.


Tim Rowse is an Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Culture and Society. His most recent book is Rethinking Social Justice: from 'peoples' to 'populations' (2012).

Emma Waterton is an Associate Professor and Institute Fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society. Her research explores the interface between heritage, identity, memory and affect. She is author of Politics, Policy and the Discourses of Heritage in Britain (2010, Palgrave Macmillan), and co-author of Heritage, Communities and Archaeology (with Laurajane Smith; 2009, Duckworth) and The Semiotics of Heritage Tourism (with Steve Watson; 2014, Channel View Publications).

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