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The Pearl Frontier, 1870-1970 by Prof Adrian Vickers
Publisher: Asia Research Institute; National University of Singapore, Singapore
Publication Date: Dec/2011
Author/Speaker: VICKERS Adrian
File Download: Click here to listen
Abstract / Description:

Histories of Australian-Indonesian relations have been written as if nothing happened between the demise of the trepang (sea cucumber) industry at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the 1942 arrival of Indonesian political prisoners and refugees. In 2010 in a public talk in the Broome Historical Museum, we showed a slide of Abdul Gafur, a handsome Alorese man who had been indentured in Kupang, West Timor, to work in Northern Australia. “That’s my Bapa (father)”, cried the Aboriginal elder who had Welcomed us to Country. Susan Edgar wept as she saw for the first time the archival images of her father, dating back to when he was first hired to come to Australia, and from his long struggle with the government for the right to stay in Australia. Like most workers in this industry, he moved backwards and forwards on the maritime frontier between Australia and Indonesia, his relationship to an indigenous woman was not recognized by either government. Through the stories of Abdul Gafur and his colleagues, and of the Australians who went to Indonesia to set up pearling businesses, we trace the socio-cultural history of the zone of eastern Indonesia and northern Australia. more...


Related Cluster: ARI Main