karen fox on indigenous history and transnational history


Karen Fox, ‘Globalising Indigeneity? Writing Indigenous Histories in a Transnational World’, History Compass 10, 6 (2012).

In recent decades, Indigenous histories have been increasingly significant and growing areas of historical research in white settler societies such as Australia and New Zealand. These rich veins of historical enquiry have, for the most part, been explored within the framework of national boundaries, and the state has been central to many analyses of Indigenous experiences of the past. Calls to write comparative Indigenous histories are not new, and since the 1990s, such projects have appeared in growing numbers. Yet they remain relatively scarce, particularly outside the history of the British empire, or across empires. At the same time, more and more scholars have adopted the methods and approaches of transnational history. Trends in the writing of Indigenous histories and trends in transnational historical scholarship, however, may be leading in opposite directions. In this paper I reflect on these trends, and on the longer history of comparative Indigenous history writing, taking comparisons of Australia and New Zealand as a particular example. Exploring some of the problems and possibilities that have faced those embarking on such research, I reflect on the implications for the transnational history project of the call to local and regional views emerging from Indigenous histories.

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