Indigenous research trailblazer honoured with lecture series

Monday, 15 March 2021

Esteemed historian and Indigenous research trailblazer, University of Newcastle Emeritus Professor John Maynard has been honoured with a new lecture series in his name.

Emeritus Professor John Maynard

Devoted to promoting, inspiring and privileging an Indigenous voice in the truth-telling of Australia’s historical narrative, the John Maynard Aboriginal History Lecture will be an annual event.

Emeritus Professor Maynard’s own compelling story and unconventional legacies will be the focus of the Inaugural John Maynard Aboriginal History Lecture, to be delivered by University of Technology Sydney Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, OA.

Challenging the orthodoxy within his discipline of history, privileging Indigenous voice and perspective and reclaiming Indigenous stories for First Nations people are just some of the themes Professor Behrendt will address in her lecture.

“His impact has been profound, inspiring the next generation of scholars to think differently and this lecture will reflect on that impact,” Professor Behrendt said.

Professor Maynard is one of Australia’s first Indigenous professors and has inspired Indigenous people from all walks of life to take control of their own history and make it nationally and internationally known.

As the Director of Research at the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, Professor Behrendt has had the opportunity to work with Professor Maynard on a number of projects.

One recent project culminated in a six-part webisode series titled Historical Indigenous Figures, profiling hidden historical figures, many of them sportsmen and women, in the Indigenous movement who have been icons in Professor Maynard’s life.

After the lecture, Associate Professor Pauline Clague will launch the webisode series with John Maynard and preview two episodes.

The films to be previewed document the life of Aboriginal boxers and jockeys and their legacies both on and off the sporting fields.

Professor Maynard maintains that Aboriginal people and access to sport in Australia reveals a troubled past.

“Whilst both the AFL and NRL have, in the last 30 years, opened their doors to Aboriginal participation, in the past it was only a very few Aboriginal sportsmen and women who managed to break through these very restrictive and inhospitable spaces," Professor Maynard said.

“Boxing, on the other hand, was the sport where Aboriginal fighters got their chance such as Dave Sands and Lionel Rose who are regarded amongst the greatest Australian boxers of all time,” he said.

Professor Maynard said that his own father, Mervyn Maynard, as well as Darby McCarthy were blessed with riding skills.

“They had beautiful soft hands to encourage horses to run like the wind and they were in partnership with the animals they rode,” he said.

The lecture and webisode launch will take place at the University of Newcastle’s Purai Global Indigenous History Centre at its new Newcastle city location.

Following the John Maynard Aboriginal History Lecture and film preview, Purai Co-Director, Professor Victoria Haskins will showcase the work of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre, which brings together Indigenous scholars from all over the globe.

Professor Haskins will launch the official website of the project, Ayahs and Amahs: Transcolonial Servants in Australia and Britain 1780-1945.

“Purai is built on international networks and we know that there will be a great deal of interest in the planned livestream making it accessible to audiences everywhere,” she said.

The free event will be livestreamed on March 17 from 4.30pm-6.10pm. Register for the Inaugural Emeritus Professor John Maynard Aboriginal History Lecture.


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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.