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Black Diggers and the Great War :: A symposium in Sydney, 10 July 2014

Black Diggers and the Great War :: A symposium in Sydney, 10 July 2014

A symposium aiming to shed new light on the contribution and experiences of ‘Black Diggers’ in World War One will be held at the State Library of NSW in July.

Over 800 Indigenous men enlisted in the Great War, fighting on behalf of their country – and on equal terms.

Speakers at this symposium will look at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers’ participation in the war, examining why they were motivated to enlist, and how their experiences in foreign battlefields influenced Indigenous peoples’ social and political experiences back home.

Grafton, NSW. c. 1917-11. Studio portrait of Private Harold Arthur Cowan, his cousin Hazel Williams and her baby sister, c.1917. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P02229.002
Portrait of Private Harold Arthur Cowan, his cousin Hazel Williams and her baby sister, c.1917. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P02229.002

Another important yet under-studied question the symposium will address is the experiences of Aboriginal women during this period, as they faced increased state intervention into their lives.

In commemoration of both NAIDOC Week and the centenary of the First World War’s outbreak, this event is co-presented by the History Council of New South Wales, the State Library of NSW, and the Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre at UTS. The forum will be opened by Councillor Roy Ah See of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

Speakers include Professor John Maynard from the University of Newcastle, Professor Mick Dodson, Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, Professor Heather Goodall from UTS, and Jessica Horton of LaTrobe University.

Portrait of serviceman Alfred Duroux, c.1918-1919. Courtesy State Library of NSW, ID a871419.
Portrait of serviceman Alfred Duroux, c.1918-1919. Courtesy State Library of NSW, ID a871419.

Attendance is free, but be sure to book a place through Eventbrite.

Black Diggers and the Great War: More than Service symposium
Where: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000
When: Thursday 10 July, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Cost: Free, but bookings essential
Book: Click here

Click here for more details.

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