When so many lives of Aboriginal people slipped through the cracks of the colonial archives in the early decades of Sydney, the fact that one Dharawal man, Goggey, can be traced in fragments offers exciting opportunities. In the process of reading Goggey’s life from 1802 to 1826 in letters, newspapers, accounts, and journals—enigmatic and often thorny sources that touch on matters of violence and cannibalism—one can see the difficulties and the possibilities of anthropologically infused ethnohistory and socio-biography emerge. During a period of enormous change in the colony, close attention to this Dharawal man’s life also demonstrates the need for caution in applying “models” for cross-cultural relations in colonial contexts. However stimulating “middle ground” or “native ground” ideas may be, cross-cultural interaction in early colonial New South Wales was a negotiated, dynamic affair in which trial and error were as constant as the rapidly evolving, entangled historical context.

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