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Nov 27 2019

Australian Aboriginal Stone Artefacts: Dynamism, New Meanings, Theory

Please join us for the next Centre for Creative & Cultural Research seminar. All welcome.AbstractThe nature of Aboriginal peoples’ relationships to stone artefacts has changed since the 1960s in southeast Australia—now recognisably more social, spiritual, and immediate than temporally distant, historical, or technological. Drawing from published accounts and on personal experience, I suggest that this change, while not universal, is directly linked to compliance or developer-funded archaeology as a dominant mode of archaeological investigation and Indigenous engagement. Archaeological surveys and excavations have enabled Aboriginal individuals and groups to return to previously unvisited parts of Country and thereby they have been able to renegotiate the contemporary meanings of and emotional responses to stone artefacts. Such remaking of meanings is being done in ways that contrast with the dominant and disenfranchising Western scientific values typically ascribed to objects by archaeologists and government cultural heritage laws and regulations. In this presentation I explore the opportunities and challenges faced by those concerned with more-than-scientific meanings of stone artefacts. More generally, and based on the evidence presented here, I argue that Indigenous ontologies of care now stand in opposition to State sanctioned ontologies of harm.Short bio:Steve Brown is an honorary research associate with the Museum and Heritage Studies Program at the University of Sydney, a lecturer at the University of Canberra, and a special advisor with GML Heritage. He was the lead author  of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape World Heritage Nomination (2017). Steve is a co-editor of Object Stories: Artifacts and Archaeologists (Routledge 2015); Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature in Protected Areas: Governance, Management and Policy (Routledge 2018); and is currently co-editing the Routledge Handbook on Cultural Landscapes. 

12:30 - 13:30
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