Yagan, Mrs Dance and Whiteness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


It is a very hot day in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia; really hot and very dry. It is the kind of day when the shimmer of the temperature distorts the horizon line of the Indian Ocean that I can see when we go to swim. The beach is ten minutes walk from my parents’ house, a 1970s dream home, originally with shag pile carpet, which has long been replaced. On days like this it is too hot to walk, and we drive for our mid-morning swim, the second swim of the day. The heat from the bitumen makes the air shimmer and the sand sears our feet, so we get as close to the sea as possible before running shoeless for the water and gentle waves. It is perfect weather for drying laundry, yesterday’s dirty washing is white, pristine, folded and put away before lunch. It is Perth and this is Christmas. We return ‘home’ regularly to visit relatives and old friends, to reconnect with our shared history, but by the end of two weeks I am always ready to go back to the east coast, where my real life is disconnected from my Western Australian past, which is how I prefer it. Besides, all that swimming gives me water brain and all I can imagine is immersing myself in the salty water of the Indian Ocean in order to get cool, and I cannot think. The distance between there and here is geographically and psychically great, and ‘home’ pulls in both directions. That past continues to live into my present, hounding my academic endeavours, luring me into remembering history and acknowledging it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication‘Ngapartji Ngapartji: In Turn, In Turn’—Ego-histoire and Australian Indigenous Studies
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherANU Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781925021738
ISBN (Print)9781925021721
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameANU Lives Series in Biography
PublisherANU Press


  • ego-histoire
  • whiteness
  • Western Australia
  • Yagan
  • Mrs Dance


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