The History Program at The University of Melbourne has announced the shortlist for the 2017 Ernest Scott Prize.

The prize is awarded to work based upon original research which is, in the opinion of the judges, the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation.

The Centre for Environmental History congratulates the three shortlisted authors, Barbara Brookes, Penelope Edmonds, Hannah Robert, and the winner, our own Prof Tom Griffiths!


The shortlisted books

A history of New Zealand Women

Barbara Brookes, A History of New Zealand Women (Bridget Williams Books, 2016)

In this splendidly illustrated and lively book, the author brings us a wonderful study of breadth and depth ranging from the famous to unknown. Its pages are filled with new insights into the lives of women in New Zealand and their many histories, skilfully combining an extraordinary range of complexities and interactions among a diversity of women of Indigenous and settler society. With great skill, she draws from feminism, gender studies, racial politics, domestic and affective relationships, medical history and migration to create a richly engaging history that asks us to reflect on how and why social change has occurred, and thus what it will take to continue into the future. Thoroughly researched and richly supported by photographic as well as other archival material, this tour de force is a resource for our times.

Settler Colonialism and (re)conciliation

Penelope Edmonds, Settler Colonialism and (Re)conciliation: Frontier Violence, Affective Performances, and Imaginative Refoundings (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

A moving and intelligent comparative study of settler colonial histories and their present that interrogates the politics of reconciliation shared among them. Through a compelling investigation of Indigenous performances of colonisation, the author uncovers acts of reframing by which key moments in foundational state histories of reconciliation are revealed at their limits. This timely study contrasts state-initiated reconciliation with the ongoing effects and experiences of colonial history performed through imaginative acts of resistance staged by Indigenous communities. Bringing together a range of these performative acts staged, the author draws our attention to the vital role that affective re-enactment can play in reconfiguring foundational settler colonial histories. This book sets a new agenda.


Paved with good intentions

Hannah Robert, Paved with Good Intentions: Terra Nullius, Aboriginal Land Rights and Settler-Colonial Law (Halstead Press, 2016)

This study makes a major contribution to our understanding of the legal and moral history of colonization and alienation of Aboriginal Land. Paved with Good Intentions is a detailed, exceptionally clear analysis of historical discourses surrounding three interconnected themes—law, economics and humanitarianism. Very well structured in argument, this book builds on, yet is critical of, earlier analyses and the result is an engaging and intellectually rigorous study of South Australia and the Port Phillip settlement which challenges the reader to shift their lens regarding Indigenous concepts particularly in relation to land holding. Moreover, the author argues astutely that humanitarianism was part and parcel of the processes of colonisation taking place on the ground, rather than being external or compensatory to its workings.  A wonderful resource for teachers, legal scholars and the general readers alike, this study provides new insight into the abiding contradictions embedded within the settler colonial project in Australia.

The winning book

The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft

Tom Griffiths, The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft (Black Inc., 2016)

This wonderful meditation for historians is a beautifully written homage to the craft of writing history as a discipline and a passion. We are invited to join the author as he visits a selection of his most cherished predecessors and associates, a journey that tells us much about Australian historians and their craft, a community with a vibrant past and future. This book speaks also to anyone who is engaged in history research and who seeks to better understand the interplay of familiarity and otherness that shape the historian’s craft and the mysteries of time. This is a generous and important book.


For more information on the prize, visit the Ernest Scott Prize page.