Paper long abstract:
Every generation of Aboriginal people mourns the loss of their old people, and fears the loss of cultural knowledge. This knowledge is not only of traditional ways of life, but of recent histories that continue to shape Aboriginal people and their communities. While archaeologists chase ever more ancient sites to prove the great antiquity of Aboriginal culture, Aboriginal people are equally, if not more, concerned with Living Memories of the recent past (cf. Byrne). This includes life in camps on the outskirts of Australian towns that characterised many peoples’ lives until the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the histories are painful and shameful for Aboriginal people, the camps are also remembered nostalgically as places which forged strong senses of family and community. Remembering and memorialising these camps is an expression of Aboriginal pride in their ingenuity, fortitude and endurance. Drawing from a collaborative project between Surat Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Southern Queensland, this paper explores how transforming this history into heritage becomes a means of keeping alive a past that many Australians would prefer to bury.
Enlivening the dead: anthropology and heritage