Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory
In 1849, James Brown, a South Australian pastoralist, was charged with shooting dead nine Aboriginal people. Unable to find witnesses, the crown was forced to drop the case even though the magistrate was convinced of his guilt. Two generations later, a glowing biography of Brown's life noted merely that he was involved in a charge of poisoning an Aboriginal man, but emerged from the trial with a clean slate. Why had the story changed so much: from shooting to poisoning, from nine victims to one, from evading trial to being found innocent? What forces were at play in reshaping the memory of this event?