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Being Connected with HOKARI MINORU
:: Tributes :: Talk by Ann McGrath
I will be Speaking about Minoru Hokari, 1971-2004, to whom both the books dedicated.
Firstly, it's a great privilege to be asked to speak, but also a very sad task.
I wish Mino was here in person today. But perhaps he is here in another way, or several other ways.
Many people here knew Mino, who passed away from us last year. And many of you loved him or were inspired by his scholarship, and/or his passion for life, or his grand intellectual ambitions coloured humanistic by his lovely sensibility.
For those who did not know him, I can say, he admirably negotiated his role as a young outsider in strange lands - of different kinds. He was talented, imaginative, dedicated, conscientious. Absolutely passionate about his scholarship, but totally unpretentious, disciplined but entirely fun loving.
When I think of Mino, I think of curiosity, bravery, joi de vivre, talent and drive. I think of achievement.
Mino has made a wonderful impact. Two scholarships have been named in his honour - one of which ANU sponsoring, and I have left some of these on a table outside.
But why, to pose the question, would such books be dedicated to such a young scholar?
It was also because Mino's pathbreaking work with the Gurindji challenged the very notion of how we define historians and how we define history. He threw away the anthropological and popular 'myth' descriptor for Indigenous histories, calling them histories and historians in their own right.
His PhD was entitled: Cross-cultural sing history: journey to the Gurindji way of historical practice'
His book, published in Japan, entitled 'Radical Oral History' has been a bestseller, and already reprinted. His articles are in demand. His sister Yuki has created a useful website in his name that details his work and its impact.
Mino was a student of Indigenous knowledge. He was a student here, but, primarily, was a student of an Indigenous elder -'old Jimmy Mangayarri' who remained one of the most important people in his life. Mino knew that it was in engaging with Jimmy that his greatest scholarly achievements came.
Mino also engaged with some of the wonderful scholars he met, and who assisted him greatly, at ANU and UNSW.
When I went to Broome this year, I thought of just how much he would have enjoyed his planned project on 'anti-minorities history', about relations between Japanese and Aboriginal people. To him, scholarship was an adventure, a discovery, a people thing. It was humour & about the unpredictable.
Although initially resistant to meeting a 'Japan scholar', he found that Tessa's work and his own had much in common. I can see why Tessa's work resonated so much with Mino's own: he quoted Tessa's formula for 'anti-area' history:
'Instead, people and places in Australia would become part of the problem to be understood and 'read' - in an interconnected series of points upon the earth, not only reflecting but becoming objects of reflection.'
Ann Curthoys was Mino's supervisor in the last stages of his PhD; & we both taught Mino in a course at the CCR. In his article, 'Anti-Minorities History: Perspectives on Aboriginal-Asian relations', Mino thanked two of our authors, Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Ann Curthoys, for assistance in developing his ideas. Ann c and John Docker were in the US during much of Mino's illness, so his death shocked them deeply.
But How thrilled/amazed Mino would be about today! To have such pathbreaking books dedicated to him. His family in Japan and New York will be touched by this very exciting event and of these wonderful books.
Mino saw things through to completion, pausing at points along the path required, and getting there, to the end of the journey, to the very best that could be done.
Whimsically, inclusively, incisively
He was a navigator of the cross cultural, and of what indeed constituted history itself.
Like the three authors of these two books. The authors walked with Mino on parts of his intellectual journey; & in continuing his journey they also start new onesc..