We now have the confirmed list of papers that will be presented during our session at the upcoming AAA conference in Melbourne, December 2017. Unfortunately, because of time allocations and attendance constraints, more papers have had to be canceled, but we are hoping for a publication that will include all of the original papers – stay tuned in the future!
Reverend Bowie’s boomerang
This paper takes as its starting point a series of ‘boomerangs’ collected on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, in the early 20thcentury. These cultural items are not ‘boomerangs’, but rather are tiokh or tiokhi, still made and used today in the remote northwest of Santo. They were acquired by Reverend Frederick G. Bowie, a Presbyterian missionary who was on the island with his wife from 1896 to 1933. Bowie took a scholarly interest in cultural aspects of the region, which was materialised in his collection of artefacts and information, and in his photography. These tiokh received attention from some scholars at the time of collection as an intriguing material indicator of connections between people in Vanuatu (then known as the New Hebrides) and indigenous Australians. This somewhat tenuous link was just one of a number of material culture cues read by scholars following the diffusionist paradigm as visual signifiers of migrations and connections between Australia and its Pacific neighbours. By studying Reverend Bowie’s ‘boomerang’ and the ways in which other material was similarly employed in the development of now out-dated theories, we can explore an aspect of the history of the discipline of archaeology in the region. Revisiting these artefacts may also offer a chance to explore neglected material culture stories, previously obscured by other scholarly agendas.
Michelle Richards (CBAP, ANU) and Jasmin Gunther (JCU)
Making the connection between old collections and new perspectives
Significant social theories regarding the ‘primitive’ emerged between 1690-1790 from English explorers’ voyages to Australia and the Pacific islands. William Dampier (1697) and James Cook (1773) are prominent examples of many such explorers. Significantly, the information amassed during these voyages was noted for influencing the work of social theorists in subsequent years to come, especially before the distinct emergence of ethnography, anthropology and archaeology in the 19th century. These explorers made impressive material collections during their voyages, including ethnographic, faunal and botanic specimens as well as detailed field observations.
This paper explores how these early collections have recently been re-contextualised to understand the historic contact interactions between English explorers and the people they encountered during their journeys through Australia and the Pacific Islands – and importantly how collections from this period are significant for both historic archaeological research and for understanding the history of archaeology.
Russia and South Pacific prehistory: ideas, expeditions, and artefacts.
Russian interest in the Pacific was determined by the fact that by the eighteenth century, Russia was both a European and a Pacific imperial power, with a firm foothold in the Asian and American North Pacific. This prompted early Russian commercial and exploratory visits around the whole Pacific Ocean, of which there were especially many during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Academic interest in human diversity, grounded in the raciology which loomed large in Russian and Euro-American discourse throughout the nineteenth century and later, was compounded when Russian voyagers and explorers went into the field in Australia and Oceania. The paper will analyse a particular aspect of the impact of these early contacts – their material component, including Russian interest in stone structures, stone tools, pottery, sculpture and tattoo patterns produced by the South Pacific and Australian people. The paper will present an overview of the encounters, observations and accounts of visitors representative of different periods of Russian contact history: the Krusenstern expedition at Nuku Hiva; Otto Kotzebue and Ferdinand Lutke in Micronesia; Faddey Bellingshausen in Australia, New Zealand and the Society Islands; Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay in New Guinea and Melanesia; and Alexander Yashchenko in Australia. Their textual and visual descriptions, as well as their collections of artefacts gleaned from Russian archives and museums, will portray the role of the material component in the emerging Russian quest to explore the diversity and prehistory of Oceania.
Emilie Dotte-Sarout (CBAP, ANU) and Andrea Ballesteros Danel (CBAP, ANU)
The Australians-Fuegians connection: Paul Rivet’s transpacific migration theories and their legacy in Latin America.
Paul Rivet now stands out in France as ‘the Other’ – almost forgotten – founding father of French Anthropology in the 1920s-30s, next to Marcel Mauss: internationally respected americanist (and close friend to Boas), initiator and first director of the Musée de l’Homme, outspoken pacifist and antifascist politician-intellectual. Durably marked by his 5 years of fieldwork in Ecuador (1901-1906) – and in charge of an enormous amount of data, Rivet focused a large part of his research on the origins of the Amerindians, finding in the diffusionist approach of the time a framework of thoughts fitting with his humanistic ideals. In particular, he sought to demonstrate the role of transpacific migrations in the peopling of the Americas, including the ‘very ancient’ migrations of Aboriginal Australians to South America. Although this part of his theories were politely but rapidly dispelled in Europe and North America (virtually invisible in Australia), it is probably less well-known that in Latin America, where the influence of Rivet in the field of Amerindian anthropology is significant, the reception and legacy of his ideas has been much more complex. It should also be reminded that he based his theories on ideas and data produced by contemporaneous eminent scientists, notably the Germans F. Graebner and W. Schmidt, the Portuguese A. Mendes Correa and the Argentinian J. Imbelloni. By focusing on Rivet’s theory, we examine how ideas of transpacific connections were articulated in the early 20th century and how transnational connections of ideas influenced this intellectual history. In this paper, we will seek to trace the development and resilience of Rivet’s ‘Australians in South America’ theory in relation to its particular international intellectual (and political) context, also highlighting how his diffusionist interpretation of the perceived Fuegian–Aboriginal Australian connection helped overthrow the preceding evolutionist view.
Matthew Spriggs (CBAP, ANU)
THE MISSING CHAPTER OF HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS: EARLY AUSTRALIAN ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND THEIR REGIONAL AND FURTHER CONNECTIONS.
Tom Griffiths’ much celebrated book “Hunters and Collectors: the antiquarian imagination in Australia” (CUP, 1996) was a landmark in our understanding of the early history of archaeology in Australia. Its only absence was a consideration of the wider regional and further connections of early archaeologists and antiquarians. Looking at the period between the Wars, 1918 to 1939, I illustrate just how wide those connections were for ethnologists and early archaeologists whose primary research area was in Australia itself. Frederick McCarthy (1905-1997) and Norman Tindale (1900-1993) were important figures in this regard, and pioneer excavators. Not only did McCarthy propose significant Melanesian and Southeast Asian influences upon indigenous Australian culture, he also joined pioneering excavations on Sulawesi in Indonesia led by the Dutch in the 1930s to get a handle on first settlement of Australia. Apart from his anthropological studies, Tindale had New Guinea interests and went on an important tour of European and American museums to look at Australian collections in the late 1930s. Meanwhile, Dermot Casey (1897-1977) was honing his excavation skills with Mortimer Wheeler at various sites in England to become Australia’s most highly trained field archaeologist of the interwar period, and studying collections of what is now identified as Lapita pottery sent by Father Meyer from Watom Island, off New Britain in the then Territory of New Guinea. Casey later dug with John Mulvaney at Fromm’s Landing in the 1950s, and Mulvaney himself had an Indonesian excursion in the late 1960s digging exactly the same sorts of sites as McCarthy had in South Sulawesi thirty-odd years before. It is time to get over the myth that serious archaeology in Australia and its accompanying international engagement began only in the post-WWII period.
Bronwen Douglas (CBAP, ANU)
Terra Australis to Sahul: Place, Time, and Encounters in the Making of Australia.
This paper introduces an evolving book project. It tracks the imagining, ‘discovering’, forgetting, naming, and mapping by Europeans of continent, straits, and islands within the geographical space they conceived from the mid-16th century as the ‘fifth part of the world’. Key themes are, first, the embodied encounters with local places and Indigenous people which enabled or constrained such spatial knowing; second, its materialization in charts, globes, maps, writings, and drawings; and finally, its recent translation into malleable virtual materiality via high resolution digital imaging. The theoretical focus is time. Problematizing the teleology of Historical time, I suspend knowledge of outcomes and dereify cartographic toponymy by avoiding reference to place names before they were invented. This experimental history of the erratic accretion of knowledge about places and their inhabitants is nonetheless episodic and chronologically sequential. However, other chrono-logics enfold that conventional trajectory and qualify or disrupt History’s linear temporality. Ethnographic time freezes and eternalizes highly localized recent moments in Indigenous histories. Indigenous time envelops pasts, presents, and futures, is embodied in human knowing, and is materialized in particular places. Archaeology the discipline is relatively recent and also temporally linear. However, the exponential expansion of archaeological deep time since the late 18th century required terminological innovation which can confound Western historical time: historically, the 16th century—known thus at the time—precedes the Pleistocene which was not invented and named until 1839–40; Sahul is a much more recent concept than Terra Australis, New Holland, or Australia; and fertile anachronisms like Lake Carpentaria or the Torres and Bassian Plains facilitate naming of re-imagined land, sea, and lacustrine formations fluctuating over 80 millennia.