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Dreamtime, Old Time, This Time: Archaeology, memory and the present-past in a Northern Australian Aboriginal community

Harrison, Rodney (2005). Dreamtime, Old Time, This Time: Archaeology, memory and the present-past in a Northern Australian Aboriginal community. In: Lydon, Jane and Ireland, Tracy eds. Object Lessons: Archaeology and Heritage in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp. 243–264.

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Abstract

This paper examines the way in which archaeological fieldwork both shapes, and is shaped by, Aboriginal articulations of the past. The collaborative process of selecting archaeological sites for study with the ‘Lamboo Mob’, a group of Aboriginal people who live in the town of Halls Creek, in the southeast Kimberley region of Western Australia, reflects a specific, shared perspective on their collective past. Here I interrogate the kinds of places which this group of former pastoral workers and their descendants identified as significant to them, and what these places might reflect in terms of a genre of ‘history-as-representation’, or a particular way of representing and expressing the past. Drawing on a series of interviews, I examine the ways in which the Lamboo Mob clearly linked the process of site selection to deeper meta-narratives about the landscape and the past. Over the course of the project, the Aboriginal participants moved from an emphasis on the vernacular, embodied and incidental engagements with the traces of the past that had marked our field surveys, toward a more narrative approach to the results of the project. I suggest that collaborative and community-based archaeological research creates a specific nostalgic ‘chronotope’ or space-time-experience within which Aboriginal collaborators are able to reflect upon their past. These reflections may reveal radically modern interpretations of the past-in-the-present

Item Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 1-74097-068-3, 978-1-74097-068-6
Keywords: Archaeology; memory; Indigenous Australians; heritage
Academic Unit/Department: Arts > History
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 7707
Depositing User: Rodney Harrison
Date Deposited: 23 May 2007
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 19:59
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/7707
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