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May 2019: In Memoriam - Stephanie Anderson

(Text published in May 2019 on the ANU Pacific Institute list)

Dear Colleagues:

Some of you already know the sad news: Dr. Stephanie Catherine Morton, née Anderson, passed away the 16th of April 2019. We worked together as recently as early March (through e-mail) and she told me she was feeling well, although she told me a couple of years ago that she needed to adopt a slower pace in her work, as she had to begin some major medical treatment.

Allow me to say few words in her memory. I met Stephanie in October 2001 in Canberra at a symposium. She was a Research Assistant with Bronwen Douglas and, that year, helped Bronwen and Chris Ballard in the organization of the symposium "Foreign Bodies: Oceania and Racial Science 1750-1940…" (18-19 October 2001) which brought together several papers that became the bulk of the 2009 book under the similar title, co-edited by the same Colleagues, with Vicki Luker's contribution for editing the volume (ANU Press).

Immediately, I was impressed with Stephanie's knowledge of the French literature on Pacific People and especially about the First Australians (see her paper in that 2009 book: 'Three Living Australians' and the Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, 1885 (PDF, 602KB). Over the years I have been privileged to benefit immensely from Stephanie's expertise on two levels, first as a scholar who worked on the history of early encounters between Australian/Pacific peoples and Europeans, and especially the French (many would know her Pelletier : The Forgotten Castaway of Cape York, Melbourne Books, 2009), and second, as a scholar who had an extraordinary command of the French language, both classical and modern.

In this capacity, Stephanie helped me many times with translations into English and with editing, as she did again for a paper in early March without letting me know that her condition was worsening. Every time, for works as varied and highly specialized as translations of sociological papers on the theory of gender by the French sociologist Irène Théry (see, or translations of juridical analyses by French Professors of law or Judges on « customary law » in New Caledonia (see, or my analyses on the Tahitian and Samoan early encounters with the French (chapters in several ANU Press books), or last March on a paper "The French Pacific in 2019: From Colonies to Autonomy" (see, Stephanie's expertise for translation or editing has been decisive and brought an immense help for fostering several « Pacific Dialogues » between the Francophone and the Anglophone worlds.

Stephanie also edited the final text of a CREDO book on Kago, Custom…  (M. Abong  & M. Tabani eds.), and translated the main pages of a submission for the creation of the Pacific Studies Center in Tahiti (Maison des Sciences de l'Homme).

Some years ago, Stephanie gave me a paper, to be disseminated within the French anthropological circles, expressing her deep concern with the "primitivist" vision drawn by a French novelist, F. Garde in his Ce qu'il advint du sauvage blanc, about First Australians, even if that vision were within the context of a fiction novel reinventing the journal of the forgotten castaway Pelletier. (see Stephanie's critique reproduced here in the adjacent "news" entry).

Several ANU Colleagues knew of her knowledge and interest in the historical sources on "race" and European voyages but very few outside ANU knew how much she helped several French language authors with making their studies available to the English-speaking audience. Some of her translations of papers and books are still being finalized, as in my case. Even fewer researchers would know how passionate she was in tackling the intricacies of French-English translation. Over the years I had long emails from Stephanie about the various traps that are to be avoided in this kind of work.

Stephanie was a passionate historian and linguist. Many, many thanks, dear Stephanie!
(Serge Tcherkezoff, 3rd May 2019)

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