Week 1. Beginnings
Wednesday August 1
This unit deals critically with the relationship between anthropology and Indigenous Australians. Where should our explorations begin? We will soon learn of the deep history of the human presence on this continent, but for now we will begin by reading debates about the anthropological enterprise and its legacy. Indigenous thinkers Ian Anderson and Michael Dodson reflect on anthropology as a colonial way of knowing Aboriginality. The extract from Bronwyn Carlson’s important book, The Politics of Identity, extends Dodson’s discussion about defining Aboriginality, as does Yin Paradies’ examination of his own decisions about identification and the broader structures shaping it. Gillian Cowlishaw and Diane Barwick are two anthropologists whose work both vigorously defends the anthropological drive to know and understand cultural others, but who also closely engage with Aboriginal people’s determination to define and describe life on their own terms. Finally, Dick Kimber’s chapter in First Australians provides an informally written introduction to the Horn Scientific Expedition, which included Baldwin Spencer. Spencer, together with Frank Gillen went on to publish The Native Tribes of Central Australia in 1899, among the first works of anthropology detailing Aboriginal ceremonial life. This lecture will also provide an introduction to the unit, its scope and aim, and an explanation of requirements and student assessment.
There are no tutorials in Week 1.
You are not expected to read all of the work listed below! Select at least two as background reading.
• Ian Anderson. 2003 Introduction: The Aboriginal Critique of Colonial Knowing. In M. Grossman, ed. Blacklines: Contemporary Critical Writing by Indigenous Australians. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 17-24.
• Michael Dodson. 2003 The End in the Beginning: Re(de)finding Aboriginality. In M. Grossman, ed. Blacklines: Contemporary Critical Writing by Indigenous Australians. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 25-42.
• Bronwyn Carlson. 2016 Confirmation of Aboriginality, In The Politics of Identity: Who Counts as Aboriginal Today? Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 131-143.
• Yin Paradies. 2006 Beyond Black and White: Essentialism, Hybridity and Indigeneity. Journal of Sociology 42(4), 355-367.
• Gillian Cowlishaw. 2015 Friend or foe? Anthropology’s encounter with Aborigines. Inside Story.
• Gillian Cowlishaw. 1987 Colour, Culture and the Aboriginalists. Man, 221-237.
• Diane Barwick. 1988 Aborigines of Victoria. In Ian Keen (ed), Being Black: Aboriginal Cultures in ‘Settled’ Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 27-32.
• Dick Kimber. 2008 The Sea met the Desert, and the Desert Met the Sea. In Rachel Perkins and Marcia Langton (eds). First Australians, Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 174-223.
Week 2. People-land relations one: A human-created continent
Wednesday August 8
We turn out attention to another kind of beginning this week, in discussion of the over 50,000 years-long human inhabitation of this continent. Read Billy Griffiths’ essay for an account of these beginnings, a story partially told in ‘stones and bones, sediment and pollan’. Aboriginal peoples’ varied ways of living on this continent will next be examined. Indigenous Australians have long been characterised as ‘hunter gatherers’—but we use Bunurong and Yuin writer Bruce Pascoe’s work to expand our understanding of the ways in which Indigenous people hunted, collected, farmed and cultivated, ultimately shaping a human-created landscape. We will then consider what it means for some Indigenous people to eat ‘bush foods’ today. We will also watch parts of the documentary series, First Footprints.
• Billy Griffiths. 2013 A World in a Grain of Sand. Griffith Review, no. 41, 162-177. https://griffithreview.com/articles/a-world-in-a-grain-of-sand/
• Bruce Pascoe. 2014 Agriculture. In Dark Emu, Broome: Magabala Books, 19-52.
• Sue Coleman Haseldine and Marcina Coleman Richards. 2012 Nguly Gu Yadoo Mai (Our Good Food).
• Bill Gammage. 2012. The closest ally. In The Biggest Estate on Earth. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 157-186.
• Elizabeth Povinelli. 1994 ‘Today We Struggle’: Contemporary Hunting, Fishing, and Collecting and the Market, In Labor’s Lot: The Power, History, and Culture of Aboriginal Action. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1994, 168-202.
• Paul Memmott. 2007. Australian Indigenous Architecture – An Overview. In Gunyah goondie + wurley: the Aboriginal architecture of Australia. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 4-19.
• Claire Coleman. 2017. When we encountered the nomads. Meanjin: https://meanjin.com.au/essays/when-we-encountered-the-nomads-2/
Week 3. People-land relations two: Dreamings, ritual and Country
Wednesday August 15
We have been learning about the past and present of intimate people-land relations. This week, we inquire into anthropological accounts of Aboriginal worldviews or cosmologies, and their embodiment and objectification in ritual and social relations. As Aboriginal people strongly assert and anthropologists have long identified, the living land and waters created by ancestral beings, or Country, is the cornerstone of traditional Aboriginal life. The terms ‘Dreaming’ and/or ‘Dreamtime’ are now commonly used in Australia. But what exactly is meant by terms such as ‘totemism,’ ‘Country’ and ‘Dreaming’? How do these concepts help us to understand different understandings of the earth, emplacement, belonging, and social relations?
• Kumpaya Girgiba in conversation with Ngalangka Nola Taylor. 2017 Follow their footprints. In Margo Neale (ed), Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters, Canberra: National Museum of Australia, 26-27
• W.E.H. Stanner. 2009 (1953) The Dreaming. In Robert Mann (ed), The Dreaming and Other Essays. Melbourne: Black Inc, 172-224.
• Tony Swain and Gary Trompf. 1995 Tradition. In The Religions of Oceania, London and New York: Routledge, 19-47.
• Paddy Roe. 2016 Lardi. In Gularabulu. Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 97-106.
• Tony Swain. 1993 Introduction and Worlds to Endure. In A Place for Strangers: Towards a history of Australian Aboriginal Being, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1-68.
• David Mowaljarlai and Jutta Malnic. 1993 Cultural Sensitivity and Waanangga—the Sugarbag Site. In Yorro Yorro, Broome: Magabala Books, v and 71-75.
• Nancy Munn. 1971 The Transformation of Subjects into Objects in Walbiri and Pitjantjatjara Myth. In Ronald M Berndt (ed.) Australian Aboriginal Anthropology, University of Western Australian Press, Nedlands.
• Francoise Dussart. 2004 Shown but not Shared, Presented but not Proffered: Redefining Ritual Identity among Warlpiri Ritual Performers, 1990–2000. Australian Journal of Anthropology, 15, 253-266.
• Patrick Wolfe. 1999 White Man’s Flour. In Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology, London: Cassell, 9-42
Week 4. People-land relations three: John Mawurndjul exhibition
On the evening of Wednesday August 22, we will meet at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 6pm to see the exhibition, John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new. See: https://www.mca.com.au/
Week 5. Relatedness, Kin, Family
Wednesday August 29
This week we shift the focus from people-land relations to people’s relationships to each other. From Fred Myers we learn that social relations can be understood when we consider people’s rights and relationships to objects. We will also explore the way kinship concepts are activated in urban and regional settings today, using the concept of ‘performative kinship’.
• Shahni Wellington, Life lessons, or something like them. In Anita Heiss (ed), Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, Melbourne: Black Inc, 254-261
• Fred Myers. 1989 Burning the Truck and Holding the Country: Pintupi Forms of Property and Identity. In E. Wilmsen (ed), We are here: politics of Aboriginal land tenure, Berkeley: University of California Press, 15-43.
• Sally Babidge. 2010 Family Affairs: Relations and Relatedness. In Aboriginal Family and the State: The Conditions of History, Ashgate Publishing, 101-133.
• Diane Austin-Broos. 2009 Living with Kin. In Arrernte Present, Arrernte Past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 130-153.
• Belinda Burbidge. 2015 ‘We are the kangaroo, we have the owl’: Linguistic and emotional clues of the meanings of the bush in changing Wiradjuri being and relatedness. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 26(3), 414-427.
Week 6. From Civil Rights to the Bark Petition
Wednesday September 5
Throughout the unit so far, we have been emphasising the need to understand Aboriginal culture forms within colonial history. This week our attention shifts even more explicitly to historical events. We go to the twentieth century, and particularly to changing Indigenous political and cultural aspirations in the post-war period. Our focus over the next two weeks is on how the Indigenous-land relations we have been learning about articulate with the broader settler colonial society and state. We track the emergence of a cultural politics at this time, and consider how ‘traditional’ meanings and messages are conveyed to new audiences.
• Charlie Ward. 2016 Taking a stand, 1966-1968. In A Handful of Sand. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.
• Heidi Norman. Aboriginal Land Rights: From ‘Reserves’ to ‘Country’. In What Do We Want? A Political History of Aboriginal Land Rights in New South Wales, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1-28.
• Howard Morphy. 1983 ‘Now you understand’: An analysis of the way Yolngu have used sacred knowledge to retain their autonomy. In Nicolas Peterson and Marcia Langton (eds), Aborigines, Land, and Land Rights, Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies,110-133.
• Miranda Johnson. 2016 Australia’s First ‘First People’, The Land is Our History. New York: Oxford University Press, 35-55.
• Fred Myers. 2016 History, memory and the politics of self-determination at an early outstation. In Nicolas Peterson and Fred Myers (eds), Experiments in Self-Determination. Histories of the outstation movement in Australia. Canberra: ANU Press, 81-103.
Week 7. Land and the politics of recognition
Wednesday September 12
As we have seen, from the early 1970s until the early 1990s, Aboriginal efforts to secure recognition of their prior occupation and status as land owners made strides at state, territory, and national levels, most prominently in light of the Commonwealth Land Rights Act, Northern Territory (1976). This week we also discuss the Mabo ruling that led to the 1993 Native Title Act. The lecture and readings introduce critical perspectives on the politics of recognition, the notion of cultural difference, and what it has come to stand for. Why are land rights and sacred sites legislation so important to Aboriginal people? Do you think that Mabo fostered European understanding of Aboriginal land tenure? Does native title offer a way for European and Aboriginal reconciliation? What are some ways we might think of the unintended consequences of native title legislation for Indigenous identities and senses of belonging? What role has anthropology played in all of this?
• Elizabeth Povinelli. 1998 The State of Shame: Australian Multiculturalism and the Crisis of Indigenous Citizenship, Critical Inquiry, vol. 24, no. 2, 575-610.
• Francesca Merlan. 1989 The objectification of ‘culture’: An aspect of current political process in Aboriginal affairs, Anthropological Forum, 6:1, 105-116.
• Gary Foley. 2007 The Australian Labor Party and the Native Title Act, In Aileen Moreton-Robinson (ed), Sovereign subjects: Indigenous sovereignty matters, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
• Eve Vincent. 2017 ‘We know who we are’: the impact of native title on local identities. In ‘Against Native Title’: Conflict and Creativity in Outback Australia, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 89-108.
• Simon Correy, Diana McCarthy and Anthony Redmond. The differences which resemble: The effects of the ‘narcissism of minor differences’ in the constitution and maintenance of native title claimant groups in Australia. In Bauman, T. and G. Macdonald (eds), Unsettling Anthropology: The Demands of Native Title on Worn Concepts and Changing Lives, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 41-62.
• Katie Glaskin, 2017 A Land and Sea Claim. In Crosscurrents: Law and society in a native title claim to land and sea. Crawley, Western Australia: UWA Publishing.
---Mid-session Recess: September 17 to September 30---
There is NO CLASS on Wednesday October 3. Reviews are due Friday October 5. Essays questions are due directly before class next week.
Week 9. Work, Welfare and Indigenous Australians
Wednesday October 10
Indigenous people have long been a part of the settler colonial economy, as the reading by Maria Nugent makes clear. This fact is often overlooked in the debate about Indigenous Australians’ relationship with the welfare state. Over the past two decades in Australia public attention has been especially focused on the high rates of Aboriginal unemployment in remote regions. Prominent Indigenous public intellectual Noel Pearson has long argued that in the pre-colonial period Aboriginal people partook of a ‘real economy’, where the labour of hunting and food collecting was crucial to the reproduction of Indigenous society. After the decline, beginning in the 1960s-1970s, of rural economies and industries such as pastoralism, which relied on exploited seasonal Indigenous labour, welfare payments came to replace what Pearson calls ‘real work’. The oral history of Myles Lalor tells us something of this earlier period, as do Ruby Ginibi Langford’s recollections.
• Myles Lalor with Jeremy Beckett. Working around Wilcannia. In Wherever I Go, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 101-114.
• Noel Pearson. 2009 Our Right To Take Responsibility. In Up From The Mission: Selected Writings. Melbourne, Black Inc., 143-171.
• Fiona Skyring. 2012 Low Wages, Low Rents, and Pension Cheques: The introduction of equal wages in the Kimberley, 1968–1969, In Natasha Fijn et al (eds), Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies II: Historical engagements and current enterprises, Canberra: ANU Press, 153-170 (Group A)
• Diane Austin Broos. 2003 Places, practices, and things: The articulation of Arrernte kinship with welfare and work, American Ethnologist, Vol. 30(1), 118-135 (Group B)
• Ruby Langford. 1988 The Fencing Circus. In Don’t Take Your Love to Town, Melbourne: Penguin Books, 83-93.
• Steve Kinnane, Judy Harrison and Isabelle Reinecke, 2015. Finger money: The black and white of stolen wages, Griffith REVIEW, No. 47, 2015, 49-70.
• Maria Nugent. 2012 An Economy of Shells: A brief history of La Perouse Aboriginal women’s shell-work and its markets, 1880–2010. In Natasha Fijn et al (eds), Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies II: Historical engagements and current enterprises, Canberra: ANU Press, 211-228.
• Lorraine Gibson. 2013 Making a Life: Getting Ahead, and Getting a Living in Aboriginal New South Wales, Oceania, 80: 2, 143-160.
Week 10. Environmentalist-Indigenous Relations
Wednesday October 17
Mining, nuclear waste, industrial development: these issues concern conservationists and Aboriginal communities alike. In recent years a heated public debate has raged about the naturalised affinity of Indigenous and environmentalists' interests. Professor Marcia Langton's Boyer Lectures have been posted into your iLearn site, and you are encouraged to listed to them. This week we will also look at critical anthropological perspectives on the instability of the so-called 'green-black' alliances.
• Banduk Marika, Banul Munyarryun, Buwathay Munyarryun, Napunda Marawili and Wanyubi Marika. Facilitated by Seán Kerins. 2012 Manymak! Ranger djäma? In Sean Kerins and Jon Altman (eds), People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures, Sydney: Federation Press.
• Deborah Bird Rose. 2014 Decolonising the Discourse of Environmental Knowledge in Settler Societies. In Tim Neale, Crystal McKinnon and Eve Vincent (eds) History, Power, Text: Cultural Studies and Indigenous Studies Broadway, NSW: UTS e-Press, 208-228.
• Jessica Weir. 2009 Connectivity, Loss and Resilience. In Murray River Country. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 47-65.
• Eve Vincent and Timothy Neale. 2017 Unstable Relations: A critical appraisal of indigeneity and environmentalism in contemporary Australia. The Australian Journal of Anthropology.
• Timothy Neale. 2017 Introduction to Wild Articulations: Environmentalism and Indigeneity in Northern Australia. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1-33.
• Lee Sackett. 1991 Promoting Primitivism: conservationist depictions of Aboriginal Australians. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 2, 233-246.
Week 11. From self-determination to an interventionist paradigm: anthropology of the state
Wednesday October 24
We have been circling around the question of the state’s role in Indigenous lives, a question brought into focus with the 2007 Northern Territory National Emergency Response (‘the Intervention’). This week, we focus our attention firmly on the state. We ask: What might an anthropology of the state, ‘state effects’ and state practices look like? Where and what is ‘the state’? How does the state constitute and govern contemporary Aboriginal subjects? How do Aboriginal people meet the state?
• Fisher, Daniel. 2013 Becoming the State in Northern Australia: Urbanisation, Intra‐Indigenous Relatedness, and the State Effect. Oceania, 83, 238-258.
• Musharbash, Yasmine. 2010 ‘Only whitefella take that road’: Culture seen through the intervention at Yuendumu. In: Altman J and Hinkson M (eds) Culture crisis: anthropology and politics in Aboriginal Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
• Larissa Behrendt. 2007 The emergency we had to have. In Jon Altman and Melinda Hinkson (eds), Coercive reconciliation: stabilise, normalise, exit Aboriginal Australia. North Carlton, Vic: Arena Publications Association, 15-20.
• Cowlishaw, Gillian. 1998 Erasing Culture and Race: Practising ‘Self-Determination’, Oceania, vol. 68, no. 3, 145-169.
• Collmann, Jeff. 1988 Living in the Fringe-Camps. In Fringe-dwellers and Welfare: the Aboriginal response to Bureaucracy, St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 73-104.
Week 12. Crime, Police and Incarceration: Indigenous people and the Law
Wednesday October 31
From the Don Dale scandal to the sentencing decision surrounding Elijah Doughty’s death, we often hear media stories that tell of Indigenous people’s problematic relationship to the legal system. In Western Australia, the rate of incarceration for Indigenous Australians is 20 times higher than for non-Indigenous. Rates of Indigenous incarceration have in fact continued to rise markedly since the new millennium. How might anthropological analyses help us make sense of this statistical picture? What historical, political and cultural frames shed light on the relationship between Indigenous people, the criminal justice system and correctional institutions?
• Morris, Barry. 2013 Postcolonial fantasy and anxiety in the North West. In Protest, Land Rights and Riots, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 98-127
• McCoy, Brian. 2008. Prison: More than a Holiday. In Holding Men: Kanyirninpa and the Health of Aboriginal Men. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 167-189.
• WATCH: Allan Clarke’s Blood on the Tracks or listen to the podcast. See: http://www.abc.net.au/austory/blood-on-the-tracks---part-1/9795718
• Marcia Langton. 1988 Medicine Square. In Ian Keen (ed), Being Black: Aboriginal Cultures in ‘Settled’ Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 201-225.
• Celeste Liddle 2018 Police still failing Aboriginal Women. Eureka Street https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=55967
• Tim Rowse. 2015 Historical reasoning about Indigenous imprisonment: A community of fate? Australian Review of Public Affairs, vol. 13, no. 1, 1-21
• Harry Blagg and Thalia Anthony. 2014 'If Those Old Women Catch You, You're Going to Cop It': Night Patrols, Indigenous Women, and Place Based Sovereignty in Outback Australia. African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies: AJCJS, vol. 8, no. 1, 103-124.
Week 13. Conclusions
Wednesday November 7
As we conclude we will turn our attention to the practical, ethical and political dimensions of conducting research with Indigenous people. We will discuss calls to decolonise research. In class, we will be looking at examples of innovative research practice as researchers strive to find new ways to work with and write with/about Indigenous communities.
- AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS)
- Ute Eickelkamp. 2014 Formalizing the Interpersonal in Anthropological Field Research. Clio's Psyche, vol. 20, no. 4, 412-417.