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Race and Faith in Colonial Melbourne

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Published Date: 11 Oct 2016

Presentation Date: 06 Oct 2016

Event: Charles Perry Lecture

The Charles Perry Lecture is an annual lecture on the history of evangelicalism in Melbourne in memory of the first Anglican Bishop of Melbourne. The lecture was delivered by Joanna Cruickshank, who spoke on the topic, Race and Faith in Colonial Melbourne: The Case of Anne Bon, 1838-1936.

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Anne Bon was an unusual figure in nineteenth century Melbourne. She was a hugely successful business person, and a passionate advocate for Aboriginal people, returned servicemen and people with mental illness. A devout Presbyterian, she was also a lonely, often difficult personality, from whom we can learn important lessons about serving God and our neighbour. In 1881, she served as Commissioner on the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Management of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve, whose often scandalous hearings were reported in detail throughout the Melbourne press. In this lecture, Jo discusses Anne Bon and her relationship with Aboriginal people from the Kulin nations and suggests some lessons her story can teach us about the history of race and faith in Melbourne and its implications for today.

Dr. Joanna Cruickshank is the Senior Lecturer in History at Deakin University and has worked primarily on the history of religion in Australia, with a continuing focus on women’s experience. Her research on women and Aboriginal missions has examined the way that religious belief shaped Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women’s attitudes to race and gender as well as their relationships with each other.

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