Over the past few years I have been fortunate to be part of a team of people working on an exhibition at the British Museum. The curator of the exhibition is Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator of Oceania at the Museum. Lissant Bolton, Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, came up with the exhibition title, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation. The word civilization had been part of our discussions all along and her wording resolved any doubt we might have had. Civilization came to mind because it was the British Museum, because of Ancient Greece and Rome, because of Oriental Civilization, because of Kenneth Clarke, and in my case because of the title of the book A Black Civilization by the anthropologist W. Lloyd Warner.
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Enduring Civilisation—A Personal Reflection
Linking Land and Sea
Intersections between Indigenous Peoples’ Dispossession and Asylum Seekers’ Containment by Australia
Australia’s harsh policy response to asylum seekers appears to be an extreme measure for a country that thinks of itself as a liberal democracy. Confining analyses of this regime to refugee law and policy overlooks the ways that Australia’s colonial history, Indigenous dispossession, and contemporary race relations interact with one another. Th is article argues that these historical dynamics are essential to understanding the Australian government’s response to asylum seekers in the present day, with asylum-seekers and Indigenous peoples in Australia both being utilized as tools of modern statecraft to shore up the legitimacy of the Australian state. Attention is drawn to parallels between the treatment of both Indigenous peoples and asylum seekers by the Australian government, with the increasingly harsh response to asylum seekers in Australian politics coinciding with the expansion of land rights for Indigenous Australians.
Your “Eyesore,” My History?
People and “Dead” Cars in a Remote Aboriginal Community
Kate Senior, Richard Chenhall, and Daphne Daniels
in remote Indigenous Australia and people's continuing struggles to resist this inequality. 6 It also alerts us to the culturally specific meanings of mobilities and automobiles when explored from an Indigenous perspective. Our ethnographic focus
Freeing the ‘Aboriginal Individual’
Deconstructing ‘Development as Freedom’ in Remote Indigenous Australia
Hannah Bulloch and William Fogarty
make explicit some of the weighty assumptions about human nature that come inconspicuously packaged with this grand idea. Of course, the idea of freedom has been employed in relation to, and by, Indigenous Australians in a multitude of ways. What we
My Words, My Literacy
Tracking of and Teaching through the On-Field Language Practices of Australian Indigenous Boys
David Caldwell, Nayia Cominos, and Katie Gloede
Achieving parity in literacy for Indigenous Australians is an ongoing, complex issue, illustrated by the many initiatives, policies, and action plans intended to “close the gap” between the literacy levels of Aboriginal students and non
Savages Have No Crime!
Radcliffe-Brown on Social Sanctions and the Law
Indigenous Australians did not establish legal sovereignty over the land on which they lived. He shows that Aboriginal people had clear concepts of rights and ownership that were translatable into Western legal terms ( Asch 2009 ). The paper also challenges
Paul Gilroy observed in 2001 that there were “surprisingly few” discussions of automobiles in histories of African American vernacular cultures, in spite of their “epoch-making impact.” He argued that a “ distinctive history of propertylessness and material deprivation” had led to a disproportionate African American investment in automobiles. This article considers how car culture has also operated as a salve for the “indignities of white supremacy” for Indigenous Australians, though on very different terms.
An Ordinary Place
Aboriginality and 'Ordinary' Australia in Travel Writing of the 1990s
Recent Australian travel narratives are distinguished by the way they represent Indigenous Australian cultures. Moreover, the experience of white Australian culture in recent travel writing by visiting authors like Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country/Down Under, 2000), Annie Caulfield (The Winners' Enclosure, 1999), and Mark McCrum (No Worries, 1997) is influenced by the authors' experiences of Aboriginality and Australia's heritage of colonialism and race relations. Following a trend in contemporary travel writing to explore ordinary life, the works of Bryson, Caulfield and McCrum seek 'ordinary Australia' and discover, through encounters with Aboriginality, a place and culture far removed from either the stereotypes of tourist brochures, or the quirky characters that inhabit the soap operas and films that have advertised Australia to the rest of the world.
Sandra H. Dudley
This volume of Museum Worlds opens with Howard Morphy reflecting on his involvement in the development of the British Museum’s recent Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation exhibition. Morphy begins his commentary by ruminating on the idea of civilization and its complex relationship to museums. Historically these institutions have—together with academic disciplines—drawn upon the notion of civilization, explicitly or implicitly, to categorize objects as art or antiquities on the one hand versus craft, ethnography or material culture on the other. Of course this has also meant—still means—classifying peoples as civilized or not civilized, however directly or indirectly, intentionally or otherwise. Museums are, as Morphy points out, still “struggling with categories that have their origins in past histories.”