Alan Atkinson reviews 'Hidden in Plain View: The Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney' by Paul Irish

Nothing has done more to add to the ingenuity of Australian history writing than the study of Indigenous experience. This book, which concentrates on people living in Sydney and its immediate hinterlands from 1788 to the 1930s, is a case in point.

The impact of such scholarship has been a long drawn-out process, often echoing trends in various areas overseas. In 2001, for instance, James Belich’s book Making Peoples: A history of the New Zealanders, the first part of a two-volume history, deliberately focused on New Zealanders rather than New Zealand, on peoples rather than territory, and on interactions rather than bodies of power. Human beings are all treated primarily as thinking agents. National boundaries, all boundaries in fact, are not just limits to authority but also lines to be crossed, maybe on long journeys. Movement matters more than stasis, and commerce and conversation more than hierarchy. The New Zealand experience lends itself fairly easily to this approach, because both Māori and Pākehā were long-distance immigrants and, as Belich shows, commercial peoples.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in August 2017, no. 393

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.