Henry Reynolds (historian)
|Awards||Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Best Literary Work Advancing Public Debate (2000)|
Queensland Premier's History Book Award (2008)
Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction (2009)
Victorian Premier's Prize for Nonfiction (2014)
|Alma mater||University of Tasmania (BA [Hons], MA)|
James Cook University (PhD)
|Institutions||University of Tasmania (2000–)|
James Cook University (1965–98)
|Main interests||Australian colonial history|
Aboriginal–white relations in Australia
|Notable works||The Other Side of the Frontier (1981)|
Education and career
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Reynolds received a state school education in Hobart, Tasmania, from 1944 to 1954. Following this, he attended the University of Tasmania, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in History in 1960, later gaining a Master of Arts in 1964. He gained his PhD from University College of Townsville, the forerunner of James Cook University. He received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater, the University of Tasmania, in 1998.
He taught in secondary schools in Australia and England, later establishing the Australian History programme at Townsville University College, where he accepted a lectureship in 1965, later serving as an Associate Professor of History and Politics from 1982 until his retirement in 1998. He then took up an Australian Research Council post as a professorial fellow at the University of Tasmania in Launceston, and subsequently a post at the University's Riawunna Centre for Aboriginal Education. He currently serves as Honorary Research Professor in the University's School of Humanities.
In more than ten books and numerous academic articles Reynolds has explained the high level of violence and conflict involved in the colonisation of Australia, and the Aboriginal resistance to numerous massacres of indigenous people. Reynolds, and other historians, estimate that up to 3,000 Europeans and at least 20,000 Aboriginal 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.
Geoffrey Blainey and Keith Windschuttle categorise his approach as a "black armband view" of Australian history. Reynolds has been quoted as responding to this claim as follows – better a black armband than a white blindfold. His books are based on evidence available in archives and recorded during frontier times, and have been instrumental in overturning previously held views prevalent in the late 20th century that settlement was peaceful. He has also however shown that in earlier times – pre 1900 – white Australians were well aware of the violence against the Aborigines and believed they were a 'dying race'.
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 accused Reynolds of inventing evidence and making many claims without any documentary support at all. Subsequently, in Whitewash: on Keith Windschuttle's fabrication of Aboriginal history it was argued that Windschuttle failed to meet the criteria that he used to assess 'orthodox historians' and thus his accusations of deliberately and extensively misrepresenting, misquoting, exaggerating and fabricating evidence were flawed.
Friendship with Eddie Mabo
Reynolds struck up a friendship with Eddie Mabo, who was then a groundsman and gardener at James Cook University. In his book Why Weren't We Told?, Reynolds 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.
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."
He was stunned. [...] How could the whitefellas question something so obvious as his ownership of his 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
- 1998 Doctor of Letters (honoris causa), University of Tasmania
- 1999 Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA)
- 1999 Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA)
- 1999 Human Rights Commission Arts Non-Fiction Award
- 2000 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Literary Work Advancing Public Debate – the Harry Williams Award for Why Weren't We Told?
- 2000 Australian Humanist of the Year Award
- 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
In tribute to Reynolds' seventieth year, the conference Race, Nation, History: A Conference in Honour of Henry Reynolds was held in August 2008. It was sponsored by the Australian National University's Research School of the Humanities and the Research School of the Social Sciences, the National Library of Australia and the University of Tasmania. Selected papers from the conference were published in a volume by Australian Scholarly Publishing, but do not appear to be otherwise available.
- Aborigines and Settlers: the Australian Experience, 1788–1939 (ed) (1972) ISBN 030493917X
- 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
- Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (2008) ISBN 978-0-521-88118-0
- 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
- A History of Tasmania (2011) ISBN 9780521548373
- Forgotten War (2013, NewSouth Books) ISBN 978-1-74223-392-5
- Unnecessary Wars (2016, NewSouth Books) ISBN 9781742234809
- "Guide to the Papers of Henry Reynolds – Biographical Note" (2018), National Library of Australia
- "JCU graduation this weekend", James Cook University, 1 January 2015
- "The Statistics of Frontier Conflict". Kooriweb.org. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Bowdler, Sandra. "Review of 'The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Volume One, Van Diemen's Land 1803–1847′". Australian Archaeological Association. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Ianziti, Gary. "Windschuttle at War: The Politics of Historiography in Australia. Paper presented to the Social Change in the 21st Century Conference" (PDF). QUT ePrints. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Manne, Robert, ed. (2003), Whitewash: on Keith Windschuttle's fabrication of Aboriginal history, Black Inc, ISBN 978-0-9750769-0-3
- Henderson, Gerard (7 December 2004). "The trouble with Keith Windschuttle". The Age. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- 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". Humanrights.gov.au Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- "Academy Fellow – Professor Henry Reynolds FASSA, FAHA". Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
- "Fellows: Henry Reynolds". Australian Academy of the Humanities. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
- "Australian Humanist of the Year", Humanists Australia
- "Race, Nation, History: A Conference in Honour of Henry Reynolds". Archived from the original on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Attwood, Bain, ed. (2009). Frontier, race, nation : Henry Reynolds and Australian history. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing. ISBN 9781921509445.