Conference to focus on German presence in SA

Monday, 26 September 2005

The University of Adelaide will break new ground later this month when it hosts a two-day conference on 'The German presence in South Australia. The conference will focus on the German presence in South Australia from the 1830s to the present, and will cover many aspects of recent research.

The conference sessions will be held in the University's Ira Raymond Room of the Barr Smith Library on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October. The Hon John von Doussa, QC, Chancellor of the University, will open the conference and speak about his family's German ancestry.

"The closest to this in recent times was in Melbourne where a half-day conference was run in association with an exhibition at the State Library of Victoria. The papers got published under the title, 'Baron von Mueller's German Melbourne' (2000), edited by Ellen Mitchell," said Ms Lee Kersten, a Visiting Research Fellow in European Studies & General Linguistics at the University of Adelaide.

"The newest work is concerned with the earliest years and at the first session (9:30am on Friday 30 September), there will be three papers on the encounters of German missionaries with Kaurna people and other indigenous people at Encounter Bay soon after European settlement."

Ms Kersten said the revival of the Kaurna language is possible largely because of German missionaries writing down words and teaching Kaurna children to write their language in the school at Pinky Flat on the Torrens.

"Germans and German-speakers have had, in the views of many, a stronger presence and effect in South Australia than in other states, including Queensland. This is possible because they stayed together as a group or groups for longer than elsewhere. The Barossa Valley Germans formed a European ethnic enclave in South Australia from the early 1840s and Germans also migrated to South Australia from about 1850 to settle in substantial numbers in the city.

"In 1900, according to Dr Ian Harmstorf, Secretary, Multicultural Communities Council (SA), the population of SA was 10% German-born or descendants from German-born settlers," she said.

More than 20 papers will be presented at the conference on a range of topics, including: migration; initial contacts with Kaurna people; political and cultural influences on SA; and Lutheran missions and reception of German settlers in SA.


Contact Details

Ms Lee Kersten
Visiting Research Fellow
European Studies & General Linguistics
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5917

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814