Henry Reynolds (historian)
Education and career
Reynolds received a state school education in Hobart, Tasmania from 1944 to 1954, followed by attendance at the University of Tasmania to gain his Masters in Arts degree, then taught in secondary schools in Australia and England. He returned to Australia in 1964, accepting a post as lecturer and to set up the programme in Australian History at Townsville University College, now known as James Cook University. He gained his doctorate in history from James Cook University, and was later Associate Professor of History and Politics at the University from 1982 until retiring from there in 1998. He then took up an Australian Research Council post at the University of Tasmania in Launceston, and subsequently a post at Riawunna, the Centre for Aboriginal Education of the University of Tasmania.
In more than ten books and numerous academic articles Reynolds has researched and explained what he sees as the high level of violence and conflict involved in the colonisation of Australia, and the Aboriginal resistance that resulted in numerous massacres of indigenous people. Reynolds, and other historians, estimate that up to 3,000 Europeans and 20,000 indigenous Australians were killed directly in the frontier violence, and many more Aborigines died indirectly through the introduction of European diseases and starvation caused by being forced from their productive tribal lands.
In 2002 historian and journalist, Keith Windschuttle, in his book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803–1847, disputed whether the colonial settlers of Australia committed widespread genocide against Indigenous Australians, especially focussing on the Black War in Tasmania, and denied the claims by historians such as Reynolds and Professor Lyndall Ryan that there was a campaign of guerrilla warfare against British settlement. He went further to accuse Reynolds of inventing evidence and making many claims without any documentary support at all.
Friendship with Eddie Mabo
Reynolds was on friendly terms with Eddie Mabo, and, in his book Why Weren't We Told?, describes the talks they had regarding Mabo's people's rights to their lands, on Murray Island, in the Torres Strait. Reynolds writes:
"Eddie [...] would often talk about his village and about his own land, which he assured us would always be there when he returned because everyone knew it belonged to his family. His face shone when he talked of his village and his land.
He was stunned. [...] How could the whitefellas question something so obvious as his ownership of his land?"
So intense and so obvious was his attachment to his land that I began to worry about whether he had any idea at all about his legal circumstances. [...] I said something like: 'You know how you've been telling us about your land and how everyone knows it's Mabo land? Don't you realise that nobody actually owns land on Murray Island? It's all crown land.'
Reynolds looked into the issue of indigenous land ownership in international law, and encouraged Mabo to take the matter to court. "It was there over the sandwiches and tea that the first step was taken which led to the Mabo judgement in June 1992." Mabo then talked to lawyers, and Reynolds "had little to do with the case itself from that time", although he and Mabo remained friends until the latter's death in January 1992.
Awards and honours
Henry Reynolds has received the following awards and honours:
- 1970–71 British Council Travelling Scholarship
- 1982 Ernest Scott Historical Prize for The Other Side of the Frontier
- 1986 Harold White Fellowship, National Library of Australia
- 1988 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Arts Award for The law of the land
- 1996 Australian Book Council Award: the Banjo Award for non-fiction
- 2000 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Literary Work Advancing Public Debate – the Harry Williams Award for Why Weren't We Told?
- 2008 with Professor Marilyn Lake, Queensland Premier's Literary Awards History Book Award for Drawing the Global Colour Line
- 2009 with Marilyn Lake the non-fiction category of the Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Drawing the Global Colour Line
- Aborigines and Settlers: the Australian Experience, 1788–1939 (ed) (1972)
- The Other Side of the Frontier : Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia (1981) ISBN 0-14-022475-0
- Frontier; Aborigines, Settlers and Land (1987) ISBN 0-04-994005-8
- Dispossession; Black Australia and White Invaders (1989) ISBN 1-86448-141-2
- With the White People (1990) ISBN 0-14-012834-4
- Race Relations in North Queensland (1993) (ed) ISBN 0-86443-484-7
- Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation (1996) ISBN 1-86373-969-6
- This Whispering in Our Hearts (1998) ISBN 1-86448-581-7
- Why Weren't We Told? (2000) ISBN 0-14-027842-7
- Black Pioneers (2000) ISBN 0-14-029820-7
- An Indelible Stain? The Question of Genocide in Australia's History (2001) ISBN 0-670-91220-4
- The Law Of The Land (2003) ISBN 0-14-100642-0
- Fate of a Free People (2004) ISBN 0-14-300237-6
- Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds (eds.), What's Wrong with ANZAC? The Militarisation of Australian History, Sydney, NewSouth Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-74223-151-8
- Reynolds, Henry, Why Weren't We Told?, 1999, ISBN 0-14-027842-7, p. 188
- Reynolds, Henry, Why Weren't We Told?, 1999, p. 191
- "1999 Human Rights Medal and Awards". Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- "2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards winners"
- Papers of Henry Reynolds – MS 9548 at the National Library of Australia
- Henry Reynolds, ARC Senior Research Fellow, School of History & Classics at the University of Tasmania
- Aboriginal Sorcery with Professor Henry Reynolds Podcast interview on La Trobe University website.