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Capturing histories at Thantyi-Wanparda: Comparing early and late twentieth century ethnographies in Arabana territory, South Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2018-06-01, 00:00 authored by Jason GibsonJason Gibson, L Hercus
This paper deals with the original field diaries and notebooks of Walter Baldwin Spencer during his brief fieldwork endeavour amongst the Arabana of northern South Australia in 1903. The information recorded by Spencer reveals a relatively accurate, although abbreviated and fragmentary assemblage of Arabana mythologies and language that can be compared with information recorded by Luise Hercus with Mick McLean and other Arabana and Wangkangurru people, over sixty years later. In this paper we describe and contextualise what is an overlooked episode in Spencer and Gillen’s fieldwork career, provide an analysis of their work with Arabana informants, and compare their findings with more recent ethnographic information collected in the latter half of the twentieth century. Interrogating this historical information and rereading in light of far more recent and thorough research, we demonstrate the benefits of combining the sets of information from two radically different periods in Australian ethnography, linguistics and anthropology.

History

Journal

Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia

Volume

42

Season

Special Edition: Culture Contact in Indigenous Australia

Pagination

175 - 210

Publisher

Anthropological Society of South Australia

Location

Stepney, S.Aust.

ISSN

1034-4438

Indigenous content

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologise for any distress that may occur.

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, The Anthropological Society of South Australia

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