Peter Read

Peter Read is an ARC Professorial Fellow at the Department of History, University of Sydney, and Adjunct Professor, Department of History, ANU. Currently he is researching a history of Aboriginal Sydney, and is slowly building the website

Sin Descansar, En Mi Memoria »

La lucha por la Creación de sitios de memoria en Chile desde la transición a la democracia

Publication date: October 2017
En el once de septiembre de 1973, el Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas de Chile, Augusto Pinochet, derrocó al gobierno del Partido de la Unidad Popular de Salvador Allende e instaló una dictadura militar. Sin embargo, este no es un libro de partidos e ideologías políticas, pero una historia pública. Se enfoca en los memoriales y conmemoraciones en siete sitios de tortura, exterminio y desaparición en Santiago de Chile. Se entablan debates universales del por qué y cómo los actos de violencia infligidos por un Estado contra sus propios ciudadanos deben ser recordados, y por quiénes. Los sitios investigados – incluso el nefasto caso del Estadio Nacional – son entre los más simbólicos de más de mil de tales sitios por todo el país. Este estudio vislumbra la profundidad de los sentimientos que los sobrevivientes y las familias de los detenidos desaparecidos y los ejecutados políticos arrastran en cada uno de estos sitios. Este libro sigue sus luchas para conmemorar a cada uno, y así revela lentamente sus sentimientos: su idealismo, esperanza, coraje, frustración, odio, emoción, resentimiento, tristeza, división y desilusión.

Narrow But Endlessly Deep »

The struggle for memorialisation in Chile since the transition to democracy

Publication date: June 2016
On 11 September 1973, the Chilean Chief of the Armed Forces Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende and installed a military dictatorship. Yet this is a book not of parties or ideologies but public history. It focuses on the memorials and memorialisers at seven sites of torture, extermination, and disappearance in Santiago, engaging with worldwide debates about why and how deeds of violence inflicted by the state on its own citizens should be remembered, and by whom. The sites investigated — including the infamous National Stadium — are among the most iconic of more than 1,000 such sites throughout the country. The study grants a glimpse of the depth of feeling that survivors and the families of the detained-disappeared and the politically executed bring to each of the sites. The book traces their struggle to memorialise each one, and so unfolds their idealism and hope, courage and frustration, their hatred, excitement, resentment, sadness, fear, division and disillusionment. ‘This is a beautifully written book, a sensitive treatment of the issues and lives of those who have faced a great deal of loss, most often as unsung heroes, in what are now recognized as Chilean sites of memory. The book is a testament to people who have not been asked to speak, until Peter Read and Marivic Wyndham ask them to tell their stories. They do not shy away from hard tensions about memorialization, the difficulties of challenging a powerful state and the long and arduous struggles to ensure less powerful voices are heard.’ — Professor Katherine Hite, Frederick Ferris Thompson Chair of Political Science, Vassar College, USA.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 33 »

Edited by: Peter Read
Publication date: April 2010
In her recent magisterial history of early Sydney, Grace Karskens mused on a critical distinction in emphasis between settler history and Aboriginal history: ‘in settler history we seem to be searching constantly for beginnings’, she notes, ‘but in Aboriginal history in the colonial period so often the search is for endings’. This preoccupation with endings especially haunts the ‘storywork’ surrounding Woollarawarre Bennelong, one of the best known but least understood Aboriginal men of the early colonial era. Most of this storywork has figured Bennelong as a tragic soul – caught between two worlds, reconciled to neither, the victim of an addiction that was his only means of enduring the fall. Despite some variations in the telling of his life with the British colonists, the tragedy of his end usually dominates the overall tone. A reconsideration of one of the most significant Aboriginal figures in colonial history invites us to move away from the search for endings. It suggests a fresh start for the life of Bennelong. It also suggests a fresh start for the meaning of Bennelong in Australia’s modern imagination. If Bennelong’s life stands for any greater truth, it is that indigenous people begin new relations when history demands them as frequently and as variously as any other folk. Aboriginal History Inc. is a publishing organisation based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit
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Indigenous Biography and Autobiography »

Publication date: December 2008
In this absorbing collection of papers Aboriginal, Maori, Dalit and western scholars discuss and analyse the difficulties they have faced in writing Indigenous biographies and autobiographies. The issues range from balancing the demands of western and non-western scholarship, through writing about a family that refuses to acknowledge its identity, to considering a community demand not to write anything at all. The collection also presents some state-of-the-art issues in teaching Indigenous Studies based on auto/biography in Austria, Spain and Italy. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit

What Good Condition? »

Reflections on an Australian Aboriginal Treaty 1986–2006

Edited by: Peter Read, Gary Meyers, Bob Reece
Publication date: December 2006
What Good Condition? collects edited papers, initially delivered at the Treaty Advancing Reconciliation conference, on the proposal for a treaty between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, a proposal which has been discussed and dissected for nearly 30 years. Featuring contributions from prominent Aboriginal community leaders, legal experts and academics, this capacious work provides an overview of the context and legacy of the residue of treaty proposals and negotiations in past decades; a consideration of the implications of treaty in an Indigenous, national and international context; and, finally, some reflections on regional aspirations and achievements. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit

Origins, Ancestry and Alliance »

Explorations in Austronesian Ethnography

Publication date: October 2006
This collection of papers, the third in a series of volumes on the work of the Comparative Austronesian Project, explores indigenous Austronesian ideas of origin, ancestry and alliance and considers the comparative significance of these ideas in social practice. The papers examine social practice in a diverse range of societies extending from insular Southeast Asia to the islands of the Pacific.