Issue 3
Monday, 30 April 2018
Charles Darwin University
History grant recipient Ben van Gelderen
History grant recipient Ben van Gelderen

Researchers win $12,000 for history projects

By Patrick Nelson

A Charles Darwin University lecturer has won a $2000 grant in support of a doctoral history project into the Warramiri clan and the establishment of the Gäwa community on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory.

Growing Our Own Coordinator Ben Van Gelderen said the funds would allow him to travel to the remote East Arnhem community, where he once worked as a school teacher, to further his “best of both worlds” research project

“The Gäwa story is a powerful local narrative, which also will resonate with many Northern Territory communities and broader Indigenous histories,” Mr van Gelderen said.

“It is an inspiring story of post-colonial resistance to the centralisation of Indigenous communities and homogenisation of Indigenous languages and culture.

“At one level it is a very practical story of vision and resilience, but at a deeper level it is a story of how the Warramiri clan has incorporated outside influences such as government educationalists, missionaries, Macassans and the even older Bayini-Birrinindji visitors into a newly defined but ever-old Warramiri identity.”

Mr van Gelderen said the establishment of the Gäwa community only about 20 years ago was the latest manifestation of a long-held approach of assimilating external influences.

“It’s an approach that has allowed their kin access to the best of both worlds,” Mr van Gelderen said.

CDU staff also received three other history grants: 

Associate Professor George Frazis, $4250 for Portraits of Pioneer Greek Settlers in North Australia ($4250); Nursing Museum curator Janie Mason, $2500 for Anglicare NT: 30 years; and Communication Lecturer Gemma Blackwood, $3740 for Frontier Films: A Representation History of the City of Darwin in Film in the 20th Century.

The funding was provided by the Northern Territory Government’s NT History Grants Program.