Tim Rowse

In the 1880s, these feuding speakers of Ngarinman, Mudbura, Bilinara, Ngaliwurru, Kangpurri, Wardaman, Gurindji, and Malngin found themselves confronted by a scourge of a different kind: Europeans with cattle, some en route from Queensland to the Kimberleys, others taking up ‘pasture’ in the Victoria River region itself.

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Individuals have crises; dealing with them sometimes makes a person stronger. Perhaps nation-states are similar: crises make them stronger and better. But is humanity as a whole like this? This question is raised but not answered in Jared Diamond’s Upheaval ...

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Comments from John Miller, Barry Oakley, Davd Fitzpatrick, Claire Rhoden, and Robert Wills.

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To the layperson, the shifts and variations in government policy and its effects on Aboriginal lives can be bewildering, even during the past decade. Tim Rowse has done a great service by analysing more than a century of this tangled history, locating its patterns and its driving forces and making sense of it ...

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Tim Rowse reviews the book of Marcia Langton’s 2013 Boyer Lectures on Aborigines and the resources boom. ... (read more)

Keith Windschuttle seeks to undermine a ‘mindset’ among historians of Tasmania that started in Henry Melville’s History of Van Diemen’s Land (1835) and continues in Henry Reynolds’s An Indelible Stain (2001). Mindsets, or ‘interpretive frameworks’, sensitise historians to ‘evidence’ that fits their ‘assumptions’ ...

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Joseph Benedict Chifley enjoys a special place in the Australian pantheon – an icon of decencies almost extinct. Born in 1885, Chifley was raised in Bathurst, where he joined the NSW Railways in 1903. One of the youngest-ever first-class locomotive drivers at the age of twenty seven, Chifley was among those who struck for six weeks in 1917 against new management practices in the railways. They lost. He was demoted to fireman, and his union, the Federated Engine-drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia, deregistered. He was soon restored to engineman.

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Morphy’s monograph is an instance of a problem in anthropological writing about Australian Aboriginal people, a problem of audiences. The public this book will reach (and please and enrich enormously) is international, made up of several thousand mostly Anglophone anthropologists students of art, particularly those researching or teaching about the contexts in which the art of non-Western peoples is created and first consumed. Yet the art of North East Arnhem Land (the Nhulunbuy/Yirrkala region) appeals to a much larger and more heterogeneous public than this. It is likely that Australians comprise a majority of this second public. Morphy, adviser to the Australian National Gallery in the later 1970s and early 1980s, can take some credit for that. And there is a third and even larger public still: those Australians who infrequently go to art galleries (they might spend a few hours in the ANG on a Canberra trip) but who are susceptible to a more informed perception of the subtlety, beauty and (most important) resilience of the classical heritage of Aboriginal culture.

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Room for Manoeuvre: Writings on history, politics, ideas and play edited by Leonie Sandercock and Stephen Murray-Smith

by
August 1982, no. 43

A joke told annually and publicly for fourteen years closes this collection of Ian Turner’s work. From 1965 to 1978, Turner delivered the Ron Barassi Memorial Lecture and so created the site of an imagined overlap between the more formal rituals of the intellectual culture and the rowdy world of spectatordom, the VFL, the most visible and familiar self-presentation of the popular. He fabricated this site for speaking ‘our’ culture by romping around it in careful pastiche.

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