Ten Sailors and Five ‘Men of Esteem’: Understanding a Dutch Account of ‘Aboriginal Australia’ in 1658

Lucy Dale's picture
February 23, 2021
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Australian and New Zealand History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Ethnic History / Studies, Indigenous Studies, Maritime History / Studies

Join Dr Liam Benison to explore one of the earliest European accounts of Australia, and how the silencing of Aboriginal perspectives in colonial histories can be overcome.

Speaker: Dr Liam Benison

Paper Title: Ten Sailors and Five ‘Men of Esteem’: Understanding a Dutch Account of ‘Aboriginal Australia’ in 1658

In March 1658, the Dutch ship Emeloort arrived on the western coast of the continent now called Australia. Ten men went ashore in a small boat and returned the next day, telling their shipmates of the houses and arable land they had seen, and the five 'men of esteem' they had met. Their captain believed their report yet historians have dismissed it as fanciful or 'imaginative'. Join us for a free online talk that will re-evaluate this brief but under-appreciated episode and its historical importance.

Dr Liam Benison will explore the role that imagination and empiricism played in maritime exploration of the 1600s. Using maps, Dutch East India Company (VOC) records and anthropological evidence about the Noongar (the people from that part of Australia's coast), this talk will also seek to overcome the silencing of Aboriginal perspectives in colonial histories.

How did inherited myths about the antipodes and Terra Australis Incognita (the 'unknown south land') shape accounts of the continent made by visiting mariners? Does the case of the Emeloort help explain why Aboriginal peoples were described as 'dangerous savages', defined as 'hunter-gatherers' or often omitted entirely from European geographies? Can European archival records such as these be understood in new ways that contribute to reconciliation between Indigenous and settler Australians?

This talk is free and open to everyone, and there is no need to book. Please click on this link shortly before 5:15pm on the day.



For more information please visit: https://www.rmg.co.uk/see-do/exhibitions-events/dutch-account-aboriginal...

This is event is part of the Maritime History and Culture Seminar Series at Royal Museums Greenwich. To see previous and upcoming seminars please visit: https://www.rmg.co.uk/see-do/maritime-history-and-culture-seminars

Contact Info: 

Lucy Dale

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