The enterprise of understanding ‘Macassan history and heritage’ is one of valorising the many crossings of the gulf between northern Australia and eastern Indonesia. To do justice to those crossings, however, we must first of all clarify the immensity of the gulf itself, which I will call ‘the Great Divide’. Viewed in the long term, it is a divide more fundamental than that between any other two neighbours in the world, and the crossings of it were no mean feat. Once humans extended the use of efficient sailing craft into the waters north of Australia some thousands of years ago, that divide would have been expected to be bridged, but it was not. I will end my story by seeking to explain the depth of the mutual incomprehension as late as the 1930s, on the very eve of the violent collision of the two neighbouring peoples in the crucible of war in the 1940s.
|Title of host publication
|Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters and Influences
|Marshall Clark and Sally K. May
|Place of Publication
|ANU, Canberra, Australia
|Published - 2013