Australia’s national history has rarely allowed space for the history of Aboriginal work. This void enabled the growth of conflicting racist stereotypes of Aborigines as either lazy or slave-drudges. Historical research tells us otherwise, with Aborigines demonstrably efficient workers in colonial Australia. Throughout Australia’s history, they worked as domestics, pastoral and sexual workers, and in entertainment, sports and the arts. Aboriginal Workers surveys both the historical myths and the realities. It explores contested white representations of Aboriginal workers and presents an Australia-wide survey with a chronology sweeping across the full post-contact period, especially the less researched twentieth century. As well as providing valuable new material, Aboriginal Workers offers fresh insights, especially into the complex intersections of gender, race and labour. Significantly, this collection includes the perspectives of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal historians and workers.
This volume has been updated with a new introduction for 2020.
Ann McGrath is an Associate Professor in the School of History at the University of NSW where she is also Director of the Centre for Community History. She has published extensively on the history of Australian colonialism. 'Born in the Cattle': Aborigines in Cattle Country (Allen & Unwin 1987) won the inaugural W.K. Hancock Prize while her co-authored Creating a Nation (McPhee Gribble/Penguin 1994) won the 1994 Human Rights Award for non-fiction. Her most recent book is an edited general history, Contested Ground: Australian Aborigines under the British Crown (Allen & Unwin 1995). Ann worked on numerous Aboriginal land claims in the Northern Territory and ran the National History Project of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Custody. She was President of the Interim Management Committee of the History Council of NSW. Kay Saunders is a Reader in History at the University of Queensland. Her research interests include race relations, war and society and gender relations. Her most recent books include Australia's Frontline (1992); War on the Home front (1993) and Gender Relations in Australia. She is currently undertaking a study of masculinity in Australia and editing a book on internment in the twentieth century with Roger Daniels. Jackie Huggins has a BA from the University of Queensland and an Honours degree in Women's Studies and History as well as a Diploma of Education from Flinders University. Formerly a public servant, she is now a freelance historian and writer. In 1994 she wrote the biography of her mother, entitled Aunty Rita, and is currently editing a volume of Aboriginal women's writing.