Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guns, Germs and Steel

Jared Diamond is a professor at UCLA and his book "Guns, Germs and Steel" attempts to explain why European and Asian civilizations, as a whole, have survived and conquered others. 

The book's title is a reference to the means by which European nations happened to conquer populations of other areas and maintained their dominance, often despite being vastly out-numbered – superior weapons provided immediate military superiority (guns), diseases weakened and reduced local populations, making it easier to maintain control over them (germs) and centralized governmental systems promoted nationalism and powerful military organizations (steel). The book uses geographical factors to show how Europeans developed such superior military technology and why diseases to which Europeans and Asians had some natural immunity devastated populations in the Americas and elsewhere.

The Wikipedia entry can be found here.

The book spawned a documentary which is available on YouTube. This is the first episode.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Australian Aboriginal in a Classical Pose?

Have a look at the following painting. It is a watercolour that was painted some time between 1788 and 1797. Beneath the painting is an inscription that reads, "A Native Wounded while asleep".


Now look at the following Ancient Roman sculpture called "Dying Gaul". It is a (probable) copy of a Greek original and dates from around 100 to 200 B.C.E.

Why are the poses similar? What point, or impression, was the artist in Australia trying to make? Is it an accurate source when studying Contact History?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Using Our Wiki

First of all watch this short film.

We have a class Wiki for Year 8 History. While the Blog will allow us to access resources on the web, the Wiki will allow us to share information, comment, offer ideas etc. Feel free to use it in any way that will help you understand or enjoy the study of History. First you will have top join the Wiki. Then, once you are able to edit it, you can write anything you want. My only request is that you include your name after what you have written. Here's the address: Year 8 History

Aboriginal Australia Seen Through European Eyes

'Aborigines using fire to hunt kangaroos', Joseph Lycett, c1820, watercolour

A collection of great Joseph Lycett (ca.1775-1828.)paintings depicting Aboriginals can be found at the National Library of Australia.

What conclusions can we draw about the life of aboriginals in Australia based on these paintings? Which is your favourite and why? What other information would you like to discover? What sources would be valuable to a historian examining aboriginal society and culture in the early years of the 19th century?

Aboriginal Australia Before 1788

The anonymous convict artist now known only as 'The Port Jackson Painter' had more success than most early artists in depicting the appearance and lifestyle of the Sydney Aboriginal people, as shown in the painting.

From at least 60,000 B.C. the area that was to become NSW was inhabited entirely by indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with traditional social, legal organisation and land rights. The population of NSW was at least 100,000 with many tribal, clan and language groups. There were several tribes living in the Sydney region including the Kuringai whose appearance prompted the first Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, to describe them as "Manly", the description surviving in the name of one of Sydney's best-known beach suburbs.

However, once European settlement began, Aboriginal rights to traditional lands were disregarded and the Aboriginal people of the Sydney region were almost obliterated by introduced diseases and, to a lesser extent, armed force. First contacts were relatively peaceful but Aboriginal people and their culture were as unfamiliar to Europeans, initially, as the landscape, flora and fauna of the new land.

Information from The Parliament of NSW website.

Welcome To Year 8 History

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana)

Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Colonisation and Contact History

The following information is from the Board of Studies Stage 4 and 5 History Syllabus. All syllabus materials can be found at the Board of Studies.

This topic builds upon prior learning of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal contact history in K-6. The nature of colonisation and its impact on Aboriginal peoples outside the Sydney region will lead to further study in Years 9 and 10. Students will also develop an
understanding of the impact of colonisation upon another indigenous people.

Inquiry questions
• What can we learn about Aboriginal and indigenous peoples?
• What has been the nature and impact of colonisation?

Throughout this topic, students work with particular focus on the outcomes
listed below.

A student:
4.2 describes significant features of Aboriginal and indigenous cultures, prior to colonisation
4.3 explains the ways indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of the world have responded to contact with each other
4.7 identifies different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past
4.9 uses historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts
4.10 selects and uses appropriate oral, written and other forms, including ICT, to communicate effectively about the past

In Year 8, students have the opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of:
• Aboriginal and indigenous cultures
• the impact of European colonisation on Australian Aboriginal and worldwide indigenous
• the responses to contact with colonising peoples
• the impact of colonisation and government policies on Aboriginal peoples
• the diversity in the cultures, beliefs and values of different societies in the past

Students in Year 8 have the opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding of:
• effects of historical events on the culture of peoples and their rights and responsibilities
• impact of exploration and colonisation on Aboriginal and indigenous peoples
• importance of preservation and conservation of heritage
• different experiences of being a citizen and forms of government in civilisations of the
• the impact of difference on marginalised groups, including the impact of colonisation
• similarities and differences between cultures of the past
• the roles and contributions of men and women in the past

Students must study Section A and at least one country or region from Section B.

Section A - Australia 1788-–1900
The Nature and Impact of Colonisation and Contact
• pre-contact Aboriginal culture
• Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal perspectives of the relationship to land and country
• British contact with Aboriginal peoples to 1820
• differing experiences of contact between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples from 1820 to 1900. These
could include:
                     -the impact of disease
                     -land disputes
                     -massacres and frontier wars
                     -Aboriginal responses to dispossession
• increasing government control of the lives of Aboriginal peoples
• the consequences of colonisation

Section B - North America & Central America
• the nature of colonisation
• the features of a pre-colonial indigenous culture
• the nature of contact between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples
• the responses of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to colonisation
• the consequences of colonisation
• the experiences of colonisation