Sue Joseph

Stan Grant and cultural memory: Embodying a national race narrative through memoir

As a journalist for more than 30 years, his face and voice are immediately recognisable. But throughout the 1990s to many in Australia – watching Stan Grant anchor a commercial television current affairs programme every night as they ate their dinner – no one could guess at his untold story. He has written two memoirs. The first is the voice of a confused, angry, perhaps fearful young man. This voice melds his personal story as quest – of family, loves, pain, career and torment – into the national race narrative. For Stan Grant is a proud Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi man and his story importantly 'untells' much of the white Australian history of central and south western NSW, before disclosing his own struggle with race and racism in his land. Ten years later and in response to a notorious moment in 2013 on an Australian sporting field, Grant writes a newspaper column1 which attracts more than 100,000 hits on social media. He follows this with his second memoir. This voice is calmer, less angry but perhaps sadder. It performs a collective and cultural remembering of the Australian First Nations and implicitly, an advocacy manifesto to a nation still struggling with racial tensions. Through textual analysis of both texts, and with the inclusion of further epitextual material, as well as his Quarterly Essay, this paper sets out to discuss Grant's application of life writing/memoir practice to penetrate the race debate in Australia in an attempt to effect change

Keywords: race; racism, Australia, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi, Stan Grant, Adam Goodes, manifesto


  1. Cadzow, J. (2016) Stan Grant’s challenge to Australia: How seriously are you going to take me? Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April. Available online at, accessed on 8 May 2018
  2. Crawford, A. (2013) Adam Goodes gutted by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated, ABC. Available online at, accessed on 1 May 2018
  3. Grant, S. (2002) The tears of strangers, Australia: HarperCollins Publishers
  4. Grant, S. (2015) Stan Grant: I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person felt it, Guardian, 30 July. Available online at, accessed on 6 March 2018
  5. Grant, S. (2016a) Talking to my country, Australia, HarperCollins Publishers
  6. Grant, S. (2016b) The Australian dream: Blood, history and becoming, Quarterly Essay pp 1-80. Available online at, accessed on 8 May 2018
  7. Lam, C. and St Guillaume, L. (2018) ‘Grant’ing a voice: The representation, activity and agency of Stan Grant, Celebrity Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1 pp 139-146
  8. Marr, D. (2017) The white queen: One Nation and the politics of race, Quarterly Essay, No. 65 pp 1-102. Available online at;dn=709038899513881;res=IELLCC, accessed on 8 May 2018
  9. McQuire, A. (2016) The viral rise of Stan Grant: Why diplomacy won’t be enough for Our People, New Matilda, 26 February. Available online at, accessed on 8 May 2018
  10. National Archives of Australia, The 1967 referendum – Fact sheet 150. Available online at:, accessed on 10 June 2018

Note on the contributor

A journalist in Australia and the UK for eighteen years, Sue Joseph (PhD) began working as an academic, teaching print journalism at the University of Technology Sydney in 1997. As a Senior Lecturer, she now teaches journalism and creative writing, particularly creative nonfiction writing, in both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Her research interests are around sexuality, secrets and confession, framed by the media, ethics and trauma narrative, memoir, reflective professional practice, ethical HDR supervision, nonfiction poetry and Australian creative non-fiction. Her fourth book, Behind the text: Candid conversations with Australian creative nonfiction writers, was published in October 2016. She is Reviews Editor and Joint Editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics.