UWAP congratulates Tiffany Shellam for winning the 2020 Prime Ministers' Literary Award for Australian History for her book, Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters on the Archipelago.
The Prime Minister's Literary Awards celebrate outstanding literary talent in Australia and the valuable contribution Australian literature and history makes to the nation's cultural and intellectual life.
The judges commented:
Relying on a carefully nuanced argument based on a minute and critical reading of the sources, Shellam explores the roles of three Indigenous men- Migeo, Boongaree and Bundle- in mediating between the leaders of Phillip Parker King's second hydrographic expedition (1838-43) to the north west coast of Australia and the local Waylo people.
But this book is also a case study in how historians can use sources written by Europeans to illuminate Indigenous views and understandings, because Shellam refuses to take these documents at their face value. Instead, with a fine critical eye, she looks beyond the Eurocentric cultural assumptions underpinning them to determine a more subtle understanding of the cultures both of the mediators and the Waylo. In the process she also narrates a more complicated set of stories of Indigenous-European encounters. Both in its approach and content this is a path breaking book.