This panel aims to explore the existing silences and entanglements inherent in prevailing histories of the colonisation of Indigenous Australia through the addition of archaeological perspectives.
This panel aims to explore the existing silences and entanglements inherent in prevailing histories of the colonisation of Indigenous Australia through the addition of archaeological perspectives. As Silliman (2010:29) has argued, '[w]hen colonial-period documents on Native people are few, authored by others, and frequently detailing only a small fraction of lived experiences, the silences about Indigenous people run deeply.' Thus, archaeology can provide an alternative lens through which to understand state endorsed processes such as frontier conflict and settlement, thereby offering new narratives about responses to colonialism. Further, it will be argued that multiple methods are required if we are to even partially understand the effects of the colonial past and its tendrils in the present.
Silliman, S. 2010 Indigenous traces in colonial spaces: archaeologies of ambiguity, origin, and practice. Journal of Social Archaeology 10(1):28-58.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
The Queensland Native Police and strategies of recruitment on the Queensland Frontier 1849-1901
In this paper we consider the complex and sensitive issue of Aboriginal recruitment to the Queensland Native Mounted Police as part of a broader archaeological project into this paramilitary force.
Although historians have provided substantive insights into the structure, development and activities of the Queensland Native Mounted Police (NMP), they have rarely focused on the complex and sensitive issue of Aboriginal recruitment. A careful reading of historical records, however, identifies several methods, including coercion, intimidation, kidnapping and inducement as well as 'voluntary' enlistment. It is difficult to identify Aboriginal agency in recruitment processes as the records are entirely one-sided - the voices of the troopers themselves are silent in archival history. As part of a broader project examining the archaeology of the NMP, we examine the cultural and historical contexts of Aboriginal recruitment - for example the dire social situations of Aboriginal survivors of the frontier war and the absence of future survival options for the potential recruits targeted by the NMP. We explore, through the framework of historical trauma, the impacts on vulnerable victims of violence and other devastating effects of colonisation. We conclude that the recruitment of Aboriginal troopers was far from an homogeneous or transparent process and that the concept of agency with regard to those who can be considered war victims themselves is extremely complex. Unravelling the diverse, conflicting, and often controversial meanings of this particular colonial activity remains a challenge to the historical process.
Between a rock and a soft place? Exploring emotional states of colonialism in Australia's farmlands, through the materiality of Aboriginal stone artefacts
This paper explores emotional 'states of colonialism' in South Australia's agricultural landscapes, by examining the materiality of Aboriginal 'archaeological' stone artefacts.
This paper explores emotional 'states of colonialism' in South Australia's agricultural landscapes, by examining the materiality of Aboriginal 'archaeological' stone artefacts. The study is set within the farmlands of Yorke Peninsula, an area that hosts some of the State's oldest farming families. The peninsula is also the ancestral country of the Narungga people, who have been on their country for thousands of years. Tensions between the two groups often revolve around differing notions of belonging, attachment and ownership of land and the places/objects within it. Drawing on theoretical developments in new materialism, affect and emotion, I explore the various, sometimes unsettling, ways that rural non-Aboriginal people come to terms with the tangible Aboriginal artefacts they find within their territories. These objects—seemingly innocuous, small and stony—are at times embodied with great power. They may be hidden or displayed, collected or reassembled, safeguarded or destroyed. In some cases, intimate or uneasy attachments may form to these appropriated objects; attachments which are neither Indigenous nor archaeological in identity, yet often influenced by both. The research highlights how emotional states of colonialism in rural landscapes are, of course, never black and white. Instead, they are cultural and political, but also personal, intimate and specific to the individuals involved. A greater understanding of these sensitivities is essential, if shifting states are to come to bear in farmland regions where the colonial unpacking process has barely begun.
The odd broken bottle: using auto-ethnographic perspectives in archaeological practice to illuminate the settler-colonial silences, segregations and entanglements
Drawing upon doctoral research that uses auto-ethnographic narratives produced in the context of archaeological investigations, this paper will discuss how this reflexive approach allows for the silences and segregations within the settler-colonial Australian landscape to be illuminated.
This paper draws upon doctoral research developed in collaboration with the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the Traditional Owners of the Lower Murray, Lake Alexandrina, Lake Albert and Coorong, South Australia (SA). This research draws on Bruno Latour's Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to explore the ways in which the production of archaeological knowledge is active in entanglements that exist beyond the boundaries of an archaeological 'site'. In exploring these entanglements, this research uses reflexive, auto-ethnographic narratives produced in the context of long-term archaeological investigations undertaken at Waltowa Wetland, a wetland area located on the eastern shores of Lake Albert. Using this reflexive approach, this presentation will discuss how the experiences of frontier violence and colonial segregation that remain invisible within the settler-colonial Australian landscape, percolate into and influence contemporary entanglements that form the broader network of archaeological practice.
The archaeology of Indigenous hybrid economies in Western Arnhem Land
The archaeology of western Arnhem Land shows the existence of Indigenous hybrid economies operating during the period of culture contact with South East Asia and Europeans. This left a rich archaeological record from a period of at least 400 years.
Recent archaeological research in western Arnhem Land has suggested that culture contact between Indigenous Arnhem Land communities and island South East Asia Mariners was occurring from at least the early to mid-17th century followed by a proliferation in the Macassan trepang processing industry from AD mid-18th century. The archaeological evidence evaluated in conjunction with historical, ethnographic, linguistic, and anthropological records shows the emergence and operation of distinct Indigenous hybrid economies in western Arnhem Land. The changes that occurred in Indigenous society accompanied by culture contact are assessed using the Indigenous hybrid economy model developed by Jon Altman. This paper argues that the archaeological evidence (i.e. occurrence of beads, rock art paintings of firearms and ships) establishes the presence of an operating hybrid economy among Indigenous people, Europeans, and island South East Asians. The operation of the hybrid economy allowed for Indigenous groups and individuals to negotiate and interact with others based on customary law and tradition to influence the outcomes in these exchanges, such as allowing others to be in their country and to utilise their resources (i.e. trepang, Asian water buffalo). Therefore culture contact for Indigenous communities in western Arnhem Land is more nuanced than previous two phase models of culture contact of just Macassans and Europeans. There are five significant and overlapping temporal phases of culture contact consisting of (a) pre-Macassan, (b) Macassan, (c) Colonial, (d) Mission, and (e) Welfare economic periods.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.