Central to the process of truth-telling demanded by the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a scholarly reckoning with the complexities and complicities of the colonial archive. This paper conducts an experiment in reading Australia’s first scientific journal, taking seriously recent challenges to decolonise archives, including those of natural science. The Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science was established in 1841 under the auspices of the Tasmanian Philosophical Society, steered by the ambitions of Jane Franklin. This innovation in print culture was hailed locally and in the imperial metropole although, like most of the Franklins’ colonial experiments, it proved controversial. Reading across the 8-year run of the Tasmanian Journal provides rich evidence of competing agendas inflected by race and gender, of aspirant settlers using print culture to ‘become colonial’. So, too, palawa people used science to negotiate new imperial literacies: these, alongside their own innovations with religious and humanitarian discourses, marked the history of Australian scientific print culture with Indigenous knowledge.

Anna Johnston (SCA)

Anna Johnston is Associate Professor of Literature and co-lead of UQ's Australian Studies Research Node, with wide-ranging interests in colonial writing and cultural history. Her most recent book is Eliza Hamilton Dunlop: Writing from the Colonial Frontier (coedited with Elizabeth Webby, 2021) and her book The Antipodean Laboratory: Making Colonial Knowledge, 1770-1870 will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. Both were outcomes of her ARC Future Fellowship. Anna has recently been awarded the 2022 John Oxley Library Honorary Fellowship for her project "History and Fiction: Mapping Frontier Violence in Colonial Queensland Writing."