On the Spot: Margo Neale

‘Curating is a powerful form of history-telling.’

The National Museum of Australia, photographed in 2013. Wiki Commons/Nick-D.

Why are you a historian and curator of Indigenous Australian art?

Indigenous history and art are interchangeable. Curating is a powerful form of history-telling.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you? 

That the division between past, present and future is a western construction: ‘When you look behind, you see the future in your footprints.’

Which history book has had greatest influence on you?

Country is our preferred book, our history is written in the land. Orality is our medium for passing on knowledge.

What book in your field should everyone read?

Songlines: The Power and Promise.

Which moment would you most like to go back to?

Australia before 1788. More than 60,000 years of history was in train before the arrival of the British.

Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?

Henry Reynolds.

Which person in history would you most like to have met? 

David Unaipon, the Ngarrindjeri preacher, inventor and author.

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