The organising committee of the ANZLHS are delighted to announce the keynotes for this year’s conference:
Constance Backhouse, Distinguished University Professor, University of Ottawa
Reckoning with Racism: Disturbing Evidence of Police and Judicial Racism in Canada’s RDS Case
Post-World War II Canadians have prided ourselves on a reputation for racial tolerance and multi-culturalism. The 1997 RDS case, which began with the violent arrest of a Black male teen by a white police officer, and turned into the unprecedented scrutiny of a Black female judge’s “racial bias”, provides a searing illustration of the level of Black racism that has framed the Canadian legal system. A micro-history of the case offers an opportunity to consider the intersectionality of race, gender, and class, and the layers of tradition and privilege that insulate us as academic scholars and justice professionals from a full analysis of race. The conference framework, “How Legal Historians Create Knowledge” permits an exploration of how a single case can branch out into multi-directional research and resonate with current anti-racism activism.
Katherine Biber, Distinguished Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Touching the death of Joe Governor: Coronial violence and the scientific body trade
In October 1900, the proclaimed outlaw, Joe Governor, was shot dead by civilians. A Wiradjuri and Wonnarua man, Joe Governor had, with his brother Jimmy, committed murders of white settlers on the colonial frontier of NSW. A coronial inquest was held in a Singleton pub, with Joe Governor laid out on the billiard table. Twelve jurors rapidly justified his death and celebrated the bravery of his killers. This paper investigates a sinister transaction that occurred behind the scenes, when the local Government Medical Officer removed a part of Joe’s body and send it to the University of Sydney for scientific examination. It unleashed a media frenzy, a parliamentary investigation and a scientific scandal. This paper follows my journey from the Hunter Valley to the university pathology museum, characterised by local rumours, gossip, silences and missing records. I met with people connected to this history and heard their family stories. This presentation reveals the implication of scholarly ambition and scientific networks in the trade in First Nations ancestral remains and the ongoing work of activists demanding their repatriation.