Set in stone and pencilled in: indelible memories and the inscription of space at the North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney
Quarantine, as an act of enforced isolation and medical supervision, was used by British colonial authorities and later by Australian governments to manage and control the introduction of infectious diseases. Quarantine stations such as that located at North Head, Manly were initially built as specialist institutions. Over time, however, as the need for mass quarantine declined, the facilities at North Head were used for other forms of social regulation and welfare. These included a detention centre for illegal immigrants, an evacuation centre after Cyclone Tracy and as a nursery for ‘Operation Babylift’ during the Vietnam War. At North Head an enduring tradition of memorialisation, commemoration, and in some instances, resistance to the conditions of isolation and confinement is found in the mark-making practices of people held there from the 1830s to the 1970s. In this paper we compare two distinct assemblages of marks - the 19th and early 20th century sandstone inscriptions around the wharf where people arrived and the 1970s pencil graffiti drawn on the internal walls of building A20 by illegal immigrants - as a prompt to think about materiality, affect and memory.
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Set in stone and pencilled in: indelible memories and the inscription of space at the North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney. Annie Clarke, Ursula Frederick. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436678)
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