Keeping the Nation’s Secrets: “Colonial Storytelling” within Australian Families

Previously posted at:

Journal of Family History, Ahead of Print.
Recent studies of the genealogy craze focus on how family historians appeal to ancestors to fashion their own identities, but practicing family history can also be a form of national identity-work. In this paper I explore how Larissa Behrendt’s notion of “colonial storytelling” might apply to the hi/stories told within families, as they seek to reproduce or challenge inherited narratives of settler colonialism. To do this, I analyze a sample of self-published family histories of “settlement” held at the National Library of Australia. With close attention to family historians’ books, I consider how genealogical research can revise the collective memories that shape both familial and national imaginaries and offer a model for truth-telling.