Marilyn Lake wins major book award

A book by La Trobe University historian Professor Marilyn Lake, with co-author Professor Henry Reynolds from the University of Tasmania, has won the prestigious Ernest Scott Prize for the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia, New Zealand or colonization.

marilyn-lakeLaunched by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, the book, 'Drawing the Global Colour Line', has received widespread critical acclaim, including last year's Queensland Premier's History Book Award. It has also been favourably reviewed in international journals with the International History Review judging it a 'once-in-a-generation book'.

The annual Ernest Scott award, by the University of Melbourne in honour of a former Professor of History, was announced at the Australian Historical Association conference last week.

Professor Lake said the book's publication and subsequent welcome recognition was timely as 'Australian history - at both school and university levels - is increasingly orienting itself to larger global narratives'.

The judges described the book as 'a work of considerable moral imagination, which will be a considerable addition to international debate.'

'This is a very important book for what it says about the evolution of ideas about race and nation-building, mainly but not entirely in North America, Australia and South Africa, from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the inter-war period, and especially in the way it combines those ideas with new understandings of gender.'

The citation added: 'The argument is woven through biographical sketches and accounts of intellectual exchange, so as to anchor contemporary ideas in palpable humanity. The focus is on propagators of theory rather than on victims, although the outrage among leading non-Whites in response to ideas about White supremacy is very powerfully conveyed.

'The story of Gandhi in South Africa and London works especially well in this respect. The broad geographical dimensions of the argument are extremely impressive.'

Professor Lake's was the third such award to La Trobe University historians in the past six years.

Previous winners were Professor John Fitzgerald's 'Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia' in 2008 and Professor Judith Brett's 'Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class' in 2004.

Professor Marilyn Lake
Phone: 03 9479 1610

Ernest Raetz
Media and Communications
Phone: 041 226 1919