Maria Nugent

Dr Maria Nugent is a Research Fellow based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History within the School of History at ANU. She is the author of Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet (Allen & Unwin, 2005) and Captain Cook Was Here (CUP, 2009), and has published widely in the field of Aboriginal history. Currently she holds an ARC Future Fellowship. Between 2010 and 2012, she was co-editor of Aboriginal History journal, and she is a member of the board of Aboriginal History Inc.


Brokers and boundaries »

Colonial exploration in Indigenous territory

Publication date: April 2016
Colonial exploration continues, all too often, to be rendered as heroic narratives of solitary, intrepid explorers and adventurers. This edited collection contributes to scholarship that is challenging that persistent mythology. With a focus on Indigenous brokers, such as guides, assistants and mediators, it highlights the ways in which nineteenth-century exploration in Australia and New Guinea was a collective and socially complex enterprise. Many of the authors provide biographically rich studies that carefully examine and speculate about Indigenous brokers’ motivations, commitments and desires. All of the chapters in the collection are attentive to the specific local circumstances as well as broader colonial contexts in which exploration and encounters occurred. 'This collection breaks new ground in its emphasis on Indigenous agency and Indigenous–explorer interactions. It will be of value to historians and others for a very long time.' — Professor Ann Curthoys, University of Sydney 'In bringing together this group of authors, the editors have brought to histories of colonialism the individuality of these intermediaries, whose lives intersected colonial exploration in Australia and New Guinea.' — Dr Jude Philp, Macleay Museum

Indigenous Intermediaries »

New perspectives on exploration archives

Publication date: September 2015
This edited collection understands exploration as a collective effort and experience involving a variety of people in diverse kinds of relationships. It engages with the recent resurgence of interest in the history of exploration by focusing on the various indigenous intermediaries – Jacky Jacky, Bungaree, Moowattin, Tupaia, Mai, Cheealthluc and lesser-known individuals – who were the guides, translators, and hosts that assisted and facilitated European travellers in exploring different parts of the world. These intermediaries are rarely the authors of exploration narratives, or the main focus within exploration archives. Nonetheless the archives of exploration contain imprints of their presence, experience and contributions. The chapters present a range of ways of reading archives to bring them to the fore. The contributors ask new questions of existing materials, suggest new interpretive approaches, and present innovative ways to enhance sources so as to generate new stories. ‘This is a very fine collection of essays. It offers a deep and richly textured assessment of the crucial work of indigenous intermediaries in imperial and colonial exploration.’ — Professor Tony Ballantyne, University of Otago, New Zealand

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 36 »

Publication date: January 2013
In this volume, Bain Attwood details the personalities and the politics surrounding the foundation and early years of the Aboriginal History journal and the intellectual stakes involved in the various disputes that emerged. Attwood has drawn extensively on the journal’s archives, as well as interviewed many of the players involved. Jonathan Richards’ article explores the evacuation of the Cape Bedford mission in Queensland during the Second World War. Muriel Swijghuisen Reigersberg is an ethnomusicologist. Her article examines the contemporary uses of church music and song to tell local histories and to express belonging to place at Hopevale, Queensland. Amanda Nettelbeck and Robert Foster provide a history of rationing on the nineteenth-century settler frontiers in Australia and North West Canada, showing the value of a comparative approach. Jennifer Jones’ piece about the editing of Ella Simon’s autobiographical text, Through My Eyes, provides original insights into the complicated politics and meanings of assimilation. Anne Scrimgeour illuminates an important event in twentieth-century history, looking at the Pindan mob’s challenge to the restrictive leper line in Western Australia. Aboriginal History Inc. is a publishing organisation based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 35 »

Publication date: November 2011
In this volume, Grace Karskens extends her cross-cultural research on early colonial New South Wales by focusing on the uses of European clothing by Aboriginal men. Leah Lui-Chivizhe describes the participation of Torres Strait Islander men in railway construction work in Western Australia. Noah Riseman focuses on the life of one man to explore the experience of institutionalisation as a member of the Stolen Generations and later as a member of the Australian armed forces. Both these articles reflect on the nature of personal and collective remembrance, the ethics of using oral testimony in writing Indigenous history, and the relationship between oral and archival evidence. Ian D. Clark’s article answers Michael Connor’s refutation of the ‘Convincing Ground’ massacre and gives his own interpretations and conclusions regarding the evidence. Christine Choo and Peta Stephenson, leaders of research into Aboriginal–Asian relations, have edited a special section on this topic, 30 years after James Urry’s Aboriginal History 1981 volume 5 on the same theme. They note in their introduction that the four papers together ‘retrieve pre-colonial and colonial relationships that place white settler narratives of Australia’s social development in a wider perspective. In the process, they challenge the ideological foreclosures and sometimes methodological timidity of mainstream nationalist histories’. Campbell Macknight published a piece in the 1981 volume on his research into contact between Macassans and Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land; in this volume, he reflects on the development of his own scholarship and on research in this area. Anna Shnukal did not contribute a piece to the 1981 volume, but in 1985 (Volume 9) she published an article on Torres Strait Islander creole. Her contribution this time focuses on Filipinos in the outer Torres Strait islands and the families they established with Indigenous women. Marriage is also the theme in Julia Martínez’s article, exploring marriages between Indonesian men and Indigenous Australian women. Victoria Haskins documents one Chinese family’s efforts to be allowed to employ Aboriginal workers in the early twentieth century. Aboriginal History Inc. is a publishing organisation based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 34 »

Publication date: January 2011
In this volume, Mitchell Rolls reconsiders the question of silence in Aboriginal history by examining a wide range of literature on Indigenous themes, which was produced during the period dubbed by W.E.H. Stanner as the ‘Great Australian Silence’. Felicity Jensz uncovers the significance of matrimony in Moravian missionaries’ attempts to Christianise Aboriginal people in the nineteenth century, and Anne McGrath traces the history and continuing legacy of relationships between Aboriginal and Irish people in Australia. Meg Parsons’ study is focused on Sir Raphael Cilento, an often overlooked figure who oversaw Queensland’s Aboriginal leprosy management strategies in the 1930s and the establishment of the Fantome Island leprosarium. Pamela McGrath and David Brooks examine William Grayden’s 1957 film Their Darkest Hour, and how it was interpreted by contemporary audiences, Indigenous activists and, finally, the Ngaanyatjarra people’s perceptions of the film now. Martin Thomas looks at the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, the Indigenous response to it and its continuing legacy. Sylvia Kleinert discusses the little-known history of Bill Onus’s Aboriginal Enterprises, a tourist outlet that fostered an influential Indigenous art scene in Melbourne and its impact on Aboriginal identity formation in south-eastern Australia. Jessie Mitchell examines questions of Aboriginal cultural performance in her study of the Aboriginal reception of Prince Alfred’s 1868 royal tour. Finally, Petter Naessan gives a rich linguistic history of the name Coober Pedy, evaluating a range of sources each claiming different Indigenous etymological origins of the name. Aboriginal History Inc. is a publishing organisation based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit