I can’t go back to the former ASOPA campus, and I return from time to time, without recapturing the spirit of Professor Charles Rowley – who taught me, and many others, both at the School and at the University of Papua New Guinea. He was a great man – knowledgeable, reasoned, patient and kind.
Back at ASOPA again on Saturday, along with Rowley’s ghost, I reflected on what the late Donald Horne wrote of him in one of his last articles, which was about the so-called ‘history wars’. “One of the achievements of the '60s,” Horne said, ”was the careful conceptualisation by the social scientist Charles Rowley that what went with that dispossession was as, above all, ‘the destruction of Aboriginal society’. What mattered most was not how many massacres there had been, but that dispossession disintegrated the structure of the Aboriginal societies.
“In his index, Rowley gave almost two columns to ‘society’ and less than a sixth of a column to ‘massacres’. (Another aberration? If everyone involved in the Windschuttle skirmish had set their course by Rowley's clear conceptual vision, discussion would not have veered into the squalid and the plain silly.)”
[Source: ‘Still lucky, but getting smarter’ by Donald Horne, The Age, 28 August 2004]