Deakin University Warrnambool Campus
31 October 2023 – 4 November 2023
Tracking the Kooyang: Truth Telling in the History of Oceania
For tens of thousands of years, First Nations people in south eastern Australia have harvested shortfinned eels – kooyang, in the language of the Gunditjmara people. Through complex systems of canals, dams, ponds and traps that enabled a sustainable yield century after century, kooyang provided First Nations people with links to ceremonial and political networks that spread across the continent. Beginning their lives in the warm waters of the Coral Sea near New Caledonia, the eels are also embedded in the Pacific. Their migration from their birthplace to the rivers and lakes of south eastern Australia – and back again – is an annual miracle that connects this region directly with the Pacific.
The migration provides a powerful metaphor of deep historical connection, and the sharing of knowledge, that forms the foundation for the 25th biennial conference of the Pacific History Association. The conference will take place on Eastern Maar country, at Deakin University’s Warrnambool Campus from 31 October to 4 November, 2023.
PHA conferences are about place as well as past. By holding the 2023 conference on the southern edge of the Australian continent we are reminded of the many ways that First Nations people in Australia and the Pacific are linked. We are inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a process to be established for Telling the Truth about Australia’s History, about colonialism and the treatment of Indigenous peoples.
Responding to the Uluru Statement, we invite contributions from researchers and practitioners of the History we share across the Pacific. The conference will bring together First Nations people, descendants of settler colonialism, and all members of our wide Pacific History community at Warrnambool, where we can join in speaking the truth about our histories.
More information can be found here.