Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Public Lecture, University of the Sunshine Coast

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Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Public Lecture, University of the Sunshine Coast

Following the successful Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Sunshine Coast public seminar series commenced in 2017, and in association with the USC Geography discipline, the second public lecture for 2019 is: 

"Ancient Memories, Disappearing Knowledge: Indigenous Stories that Remember Events More Than 7000 Years Ago.", presented by Professor Patrick Nunn 

Among Indigenous Australian societies, as in some long-enduring societies elsewhere in the world, there are stories preserved that likely recall memorable (or catastrophic) events that occurred many millennia ago.

Such events include volcanic activity, meteorite impacts and – from at least 23 places all along the Australian coast – the progressive and relentless rise of the ocean surface after the end of the last great ice age.

Geology now allows us to know precisely how many years ago such events occurred and – by extension – how many years these memories have been preserved.

It seems clear, for example, that some Indigenous Australian memories of coastal drowning are based on observations made as much as 10,000 years ago, while memories of volcanism in the USA have been preserved for 7600 years. The ability of oral societies to preserve memories so long has many implications for understanding our world, present and future.

Patrick Nunn is Professor of Geography in the School of Social Sciences at USC and was in 2018 awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland for contributions to the study of geography.

This talk is based on Patrick’s research over several decades into ancient stories and their meanings, research that was published in 2018 in his popular book The Edge of Memory (Bloomsbury).

More information

Associate Professor Jennifer Carter, Geography Discipline Leader

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