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Masked Histories: Turtle Shell Masks and Torres Strait Islander People

A celebration of the extraordinary turtle shell masks of the Torres Strait.

Masked Histories celebrates the remarkable Torres Strait Islander turtle shell masks that were taken or traded by Europeans throughout the nineteenth century. Displayed as curiosities or art in museums and galleries around the world, the Islander knowledges they held were silenced. Delving into old stories from both Islanders and the foreigners who had travelled to the region, Lui-Chivizhe reanimates the masks with their Islander meaning and purpose and, in so doing, powerfully recreates the past. Masked Histories advances a vivid new history, uncovering the profound importance of the turtle shell masks to all Islanders and revealing much about the people who created them.


Historian and curator Leah Lui-Chivizhe is a Torres Strait Islander with enduring family connections to the eastern and western Torres Strait. Her research focuses on how nineteenth-century collections from the region can be useful for reconnecting Islanders with our pre-colonial histories of human and other-than-human relations. Leah is a postdoctoral fellow in History at the University of Sydney.

Published by Melbourne University Publishing, 2022. Paperback, 240 pages.