Massacre map and Guardian Australia partnership project wins NSW Premier's History Award

Friday, 6 September 2019

The Killing Times awarded for its contribution to history and public debate.

Killing times

The Killing Times, a digital project resulting from a partnership between The University of Newcastle’s Colonial Frontier Massacre Map research team and The Guardian Australia has won the NSW Premier’s History Award.

The Killing Times documents Australian frontier massacres via an interactive digital map, using research data gathered by the Newcastle team led by Professor Lyndall Ryan and including Dr Jennifer DebenhamDr Bill Pascoe, Dr Mark Brown, Dr Robyn Smith and Dr Chris Owen.

The judges awarded the project the Digital History category prize and said “The Killing Times makes a profoundly important contribution to history and public debate in Australia.  It harnesses the capacity of interactive technology to open up the contested political space of the ‘history wars’ and shows the power of technology to sweep aside national myths to reveal a violent and quotidian world of fatal clashes between Indigenous Australians and settlers.  By pairing contemporary sources with cutting edge technology, the creators of The Killing Times have produced a resource that challenges, provokes and demands more from Australians.”

Colonial Frontier Massacre Map senior research assistant Dr Debenham said partnering with The Guardian has benefited the University of Newcastle project by exposing the map to a wider audience.

“The map has gained greater traction following The Guardian partnership and the UON map continues to attract large numbers of visitors each day. A growing number of visitors are staying longer on the map website, evidence they are using the map in a considered way for finding information and research projects,” Dr Debenham said. “We are finding that visitors are interested in learning more about the colonial past and the map is a great way to give access to the public with the evidence we have collected. It is revealing the hidden histories of our past.”

Indigenous Affairs Editor at The Guardian, Lorena Allam said the collaboration came about to make the story of Australia’s frontier history more public.

“We were keen to experiment with new technologies and online data tools to do that. This project goes to the very heart of our nation. It's the mosaic of true stories that have made us who we are, and it's a history we all need to come to terms with if we are to move forward as a mature nation. The map, the information, the personal stories, are just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Allam said.

Ms Allam said the public response to The Killing Times was overwhelmingly positive and moving.

“The articles received hundreds of thousands of reads, shares, comments, and tips on massacre sites we hadn't included, personal anecdotes, and messages from people all over Australia and overseas. It was very gratifying and a fitting recognition of the work of Professor Lyndall Ryan and her team, and to the research and investigative journalism of Guardian Australia,” she said.

Later this year a third update to the UON map will be released adding more massacre sites particularly in Western Australia.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with The Guardian who plan to produce another series of articles to coincide with the Stage 3 release of the UON map,” Dr Debenham said.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.