Skip to main content
News_

University authors win NSW Premier’s History Awards

4 September 2017
Stories honoured with state’s top history prize

Three University of Sydney authors have won NSW Premier’s History Awards for 2017. The trio were honoured at an awards ceremony to mark NSW History Week.

Three university researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have been awarded NSW Premier’s History Awards for 2017.

Professor Mark McKenna was awarded the Australian History Prize, while Dr Peter Hobbins and Associate Professor Annie Clarke received the NSW Community and Regional History Prize alongside their co-author Professor Ursula K. Frederick from ANU.

The trio were honoured at an awards ceremony to kick off NSW History Week.

To get three winners across the line in one night is testament to the outstanding work our researchers do.
Professor Annamarie Jagose

First awarded in 1997, the awards offer five individual prizes, with each category winner awarded $15,000.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said: “I am delighted that the extraordinary work of our historians and archaeologists is being recognised in this way.

“These two books exemplify both the quality and importance of the research being done in the humanities at the University of Sydney.”

Professor Annamarie Jagose, Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Social Sciences, offered her congratulations to the authors and said the win highlighted the great work of the Faculty’s researchers, particularly those of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.

“To get three winners across the line in one night is testament to the outstanding work our researchers do and the impact they have, not just within our University community but on the general public as well.”

From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories cover

From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories (Melbourne University Publishing) 

Professor Mark McKenna – Australian History Prize

Professor Mark McKenna from the Department of History was awarded the Australian History Prize for his book From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories.

Exploring historical encounters throughout Australia, From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories uncovers stories largely forgotten that offer a new understanding of the country and its people.

Judges’ comments: “From the Edge stands out in a competitive shortlist through the manner in which it highlights and makes sense of a complex network of local histories that deserve far greater attention than they have previously received.

"The book combines well‐told intriguing stories with sophisticated and clear analysis. McKenna demonstrates that Australians’ historical imagination can be enriched through a broader yet more geographically intimate view.”

Professor Mark McKenna

Professor Mark McKenna

Professor McKenna said the prize was very special and that it was an honour to have his work recognised this way.

“I hope those that read the book go away and want to read more about the history of Australia’s many places and regions that lie beyond the southeast corner of the continent. And even more importantly, that they would see how central Indigenous histories are to understanding our past,” said Professor McKenna.

“I want to thank my family, Melbourne University Publishing and the University Of Sydney; without the research time and support of colleagues and staff I would never have completed my last two books.”

Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia’s Immigrant Past book cover

Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia’s Immigrant Past (Arbon Publishing)

Associate Professor Annie Clarke and Dr Peter Hobbins – NSW Community and Regional History Prize

Associate Professor Annie Clarke from the Department of Archaeology and Dr Peter Hobbins from the Department of History were awarded the NSW Community and Regional History Prize for their book Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia’s Immigrant Past, co-written with Professor Ursula K. Frederick from ANU.

Combining intensive archaeological investigation and historical research, Stories from the Sandstone is a culmination of a three-year project run by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney, which investigated engravings left behind by people in quarantine at the Quarantine Station in North Head near Manly.

Judges’ comments: “The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs of the engravings and paintings of the area. The authors draw from this rich body of sources to spotlight individuals who passed through the station and left their signatures in stone. This fascinating and accomplished history of the Quarantine Station firmly locates the experiences of the local within the broader context of the global.” 

Dr Peter Hobbins and Associate Professor Annie Clarke

Dr Peter Hobbins and Associate Professor Annie Clarke

Author Dr Peter Hobbins said the prize vindicates the value of historians and archaeologists working together to present a richer understanding of our past, through interpreting its textual, material and enduring cultural traces.

“We hope that Stories from the Sandstone acknowledges just a few of the thousands of diverse people who left traces of their quarantine experience behind in the sandstone at North Head. It's truly an astounding and moving place, one we believe is worthy of World Heritage Listing,” said Dr Hobbins.

Co-author Associate Professor Annie Clarke said the book was the main outcome of an ARC Linkage Grant at the North Head Quarantine Station.

“The NSW Premier's History Prize celebrates the partnership we have built with our industry partner, Mawland, as well as the productive cross-disciplinary relationships the researchers built over the course of the project,” said Associate Professor Clarke.

View the full list of winners here.