Australia and the Language of Deep History

Edited by Ann McGrath, Laura Rademaker, and Jakelin Troy

New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series

326 pages
19 photographs, 10 illustrations, 4 maps, 8 tables, index


January 2023


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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January 2023


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2023


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Everywhen is a groundbreaking collection about diverse ways of conceiving, knowing, and narrating time and deep history. Looking beyond the linear documentary past of Western or academic history, this collection asks how knowledge systems of Australia’s Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders can broaden our understandings of the past and of historical practice. Indigenous embodied practices for knowing, narrating, and reenacting the past in the present blur the distinctions of linear time, making all history now. Ultimately, questions of time and language are questions of Indigenous sovereignty. The Australian case is especially pertinent because Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are among the few Native peoples without a treaty with their colonizers. Appreciating First Nations’ time concepts embedded in languages and practices, as Everywhen does, is a route to recognizing diverse forms of Indigenous sovereignties.

Everywhen makes three major contributions. The first is a concentration on language, both as a means of knowing and transmitting the past across generations and as a vital, albeit long-overlooked source material for historical investigation, to reveal how many Native people maintained and continue to maintain ancient traditions and identities through language. Everywhen also considers Indigenous practices of history, or knowing the past, that stretch back more than sixty thousand years; these Indigenous epistemologies might indeed challenge those of the academy. Finally, the volume explores ways of conceiving time across disciplinary boundaries and across cultures, revealing how the experience of time itself is mediated by embodied practices and disciplinary norms.

Everywhen brings Indigenous knowledges to bear on the study and meaning of the past and of history itself. It seeks to draw attention to every when, arguing that Native time concepts and practices are vital to understanding Native histories and, further, that they may offer a new framework for history as practiced in the Western academy.

Author Bio

Ann McGrath is the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and a Distinguished Professor at Australian National University. She is coeditor of Routledge Companion to Global Indigenous History. Laura Rademaker is Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow at the Australian National University. She is the author of Found in Translation: Many Meanings on a North Australian Mission. Jakelin Troy is the director of Indigenous research at the University of Sydney. She is editor in chief of ab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples’ Cultures.


Everywhen seeks a beyond: beyond colonial temporalities of progress and linearity, beyond the prehistorical ‘ancient,’ and into a newly defined Deep History that is, by its very nature, Indigenous. There, the meeting of time, land, and language offer challenging new analytical insights that demand a radical reorientation of the way we think and write about the past. . . . Ann McGrath, Laura Rademaker, and Jakelin Troy have assembled a stunning volume, rich in thought-provoking ideas and debate.”—Philip Deloria, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University

“A stellar lineup of renowned researchers reveals the extraordinary richness of Indigenous conceptualizations of the past and its relationship to the present with nuanced, focused, and meaningful translations.”—Lynette Russell, Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow at Monash University

“This engaging volume illuminates Aboriginal understanding of the deep past . . . through considerations of language, story, song, dance, engravings on the landscape. Indigenous temporalities rooted in storied places challenge Western notions of linearity.”—Jean O’Brien, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History at the University of Minnesota

“This insightful book centers the deep-time sense of belonging of Indigenous people in Australia, who trace their ancestral connections back at least sixty-five thousand years. . . . The contributors emphasize how Indigenous conceptions of time rest on a profound kinship with the land and water and how Indigenous practices of history value stories of continuity and persistence more than rupture.”—Margaret Jacobs, Charles Mach Professor of History at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and co-director of the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project

Everywhen melts divisions between present and past, bringing current knowledge to understanding the vast early stories of the continent now known as Australia. It melds ways of knowing and understanding and brings important recognition of Indigenous authorities.”—Claire Bowern, professor of linguistics at Yale University

Everywhen is a project of great nuance, thoughtfulness, and reconciliatory vision. The scholarship is original and the research is outstanding in both its theoretical engagement and substantive sourcing. . . . The Aboriginal voices that emerge from these pages allow readers to engage wise, creative, and important perspectives.”—James Carson, professor and chair of the Department of History at Queen’s University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
The Languages and Temporalities of “Everywhen” in Deep History
Ann McGrath and Laura Rademaker
Part 1. Songs of Country in Time
1. Standing on the Ground and Writing on the Sky: An Indigenous Exploration of Place, Time, and Histories
Jakelin Troy
2. Bugarrigarra Nyurdany, Because of the Dreaming: A Discussion of Time and Place in Yawuru Cosmology
Sarah Yu with Yawuru Community Members Dianne Appleby, Lloyd Pigram, and Thomas Edgar
3. Old Dogs and Ice Ages in Noongar Country
Clint Bracknell
4. Songs and the Deep Present
Linda Barwick
Part 2. Time’s Archive? The Language of Words
5. Yirriyengburnama-langwa mamawura-langwa: Talking about Time in Anindilyakwa
James Bednall
6. Australian Languages and the Deep Past
Michael Walsh and Harold Koch
7. Time, Language, and Thought: What Language Can Tell Us about Our Concepts of Time000
Marie-Eve Ritz and Maïa Ponsonnet
Part 3. Transforming Times
8. Innovation, Continuity, and the Punctuated Temporality of Archaeological Narratives
Catherine J. Frieman
9. Across “Koori Time” and Space
John Maynard
10. Early European Mariners at Cape Keerweer: Bespoke Variations of an Aboriginal Legend 000
Peter Sutton
11. Time and Eternity: Aboriginal and Missionary Conversations about Temporality
Laura Rademaker
12. On the Shores of the Narinya: Contemporary D’harawal Interactions with Ancestral Knowledges
Shannon Foster

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