The University of Newcastle, Australia

Digital tools bring Australia’s dark history into the spotlight

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Professor Lyndall Ryan of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities and Centre for the History of Violence at the University of Newcastle is partnering with The Guardian to further expand the Colonial Frontier Massacres Map.

First launched in July 2017, the digital map documents the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander massacres that occurred during the colonisation of Australia.

Lyndall Ryan with massacre map

An update to the map in 2018 added 250 more massacres and this year The Guardian has further expanded on Professor Ryan’s research, adding massacres from Western Australia to their own interactive version of the map.

In a recent seminar at Sydney’s University of Technology, Professor Ryan said her team of researchers and The Guardian “both have the same aim – to generate discussion about Australia’s past and to make the past visible.”

“Australia’s history has been very invisible for a very long time and a massacre map is a way of bringing – to an international audience as well as a local audience – how the frontier massacres took place and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“For me the project has been very much about revitalising the role of regional Australia where a lot of these massacres took place and giving a voice to people in regional Australia who want the stories of these massacres told.”

Professor Ryan highlighted the importance of the digital tools that allowed her to uncover evidence of the massacres, much of which was found via colonial newspapers digitised on Trove.

“The more we understand about Australia’s past, the more we’ll understand the need to digitise sources,” Ryan said. “We could not have done what we’re doing without modern technology.”

Read more at The Guardian. Watch the video below for an interview with Professor Ryan regarding the massacre map.

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