A passion for whales, seals and Indigenous history has led Monash University’s Professor Lynette Russell from the Monash Indigenous Centre to explore the lives and adventures of Indigenous whalers and sealers and the women who supported them. The result is her latest book, Roving Mariners,Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans, 1790–1870.
Professor Russell analyses archival records of maritime industry, captains’ logs, ships’ records, and the journals of the sailors themselves in this thought-provoking book.
For most Australian Aboriginal people, she said, the impact of colonialism was blunt – dispossession, dislocation, disease, murder and lives spent on missions.
“These are people that history has often classified as victims, disempowered slaves or indentured servants,” Professor Russell said.
“Yet it seemed possible too that they made choices that made sense to them, enabled their freedom, and sometimes allowed them to move beyond colonial imposition. This book explores some of the lives and adventures of those Aboriginal people who became what I call roving mariners.”
Professor Russell said some participation in the whaling trade was voluntary but some was more invidious and involved kidnapping and trade in women. In many cases, the individuals maintained a degree of personal autonomy in their new circumstances.
Drawing on both history and literature, Roving Mariners provides a comprehensive history of Australian Aboriginal whaling and sealing.
Professor Russell travelled the world, searching records in the UK, US, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as well as Tasmania and Kangaroo Island, the home of the whaling industry in Australia.
“I wanted to write a rolling story. I wanted the reader to get a sense of their lives,” Professor Russell said.
“It has given me a deeper appreciation of the day-to-day existence of the roving mariners.”
Roving Mariners, Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans, 1790–1870 is available now through Suny Press.
Who owns the myths and legends of the Great War centenary?
By Ben Wellings and Shanti Sumartojo When prime minister Tony Abbottdeclared at Villers-Bretonneux that “no place…
Ten Monash researchers become ARC Future Fellows
Monash researchers will explore the oldest stars in the galaxy, transform the manufacturing of high…
Troops in Terror Zone ‘cutting edge’ in journalism
Monash University’s journalism and multimedia students have joined forces with The Australian editorial team to produce a…
Express Yourself: why do World Cup stars matter?
It’s been a terrible World Cup. Germany and Argentina in the final. Again.
Monash student goes to the United Nations
Alistair Bayley visited the United Nations in New York as one of the winners of the Many Languages, One World essay contest.
Shanghai recently hosted the 3rd World Cultural Forum (WCF) – a Chinese initiative aimed at creating a forum for intercultural dialogue not dominated by ‘the West’. This year it chose the rather apt theme of ‘soft power’.
Welfare review fails to understand Australia’s labour market
The interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System, led by former Mission Australia CEO Patrick McClure, is a vexed piece of work.
New Colombo plan scholarships awarded to Monash language students
Monash language students have found success through the New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarship program….
Monash grad named Walkley Student Journalist of the Year
Monash University’s journalism graduate Holly Humphreys has won the 2014 Walkley Student Journalist of the Year….
Indigenous Film Studies in the Digital World
A unique new digital tool will allow access to a wide range of sources of…
Global youth reshape the boundaries
Cultural diversity is the norm for young people today: this may not always translate into…
Dispelling Four Myths about Sexual Violence in Conflict
By Sara Davies and Jacqui True At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in…