Philip Jones reviews 'Indigenous and Other Australians since 1901' by Tim Rowse

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. He has produced a humane and convincing account of the demographic and social recovery of an Aboriginal population as it absorbed and accommodated the effects of intrusive social policies. At one level, Indigenous and Other Australians since 1901 provides a coherent account of the origins, implications, and outcomes of Aboriginal policy formation since Federation, ranging deftly across state and territory jurisdictions, decade by decade.

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Philip Jones

Philip Jones

Philip Jones is a historian and museum ethnographer specialising in the historical trajectories of objects and images across cultural boundaries. Based at the South Australian Museum, he is writing histories of the Yuendumu Men’s Museum and of the artist-naturalist George French Angas.

Published in March 2018, no. 399

Comments (1)

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    I'm surprised that Philip Jones was impressed and seemingly convinced of the validity of Tim Rowse's argument that institutionalisation 'ensur[ed] the survival' of Australia's indigenous population. Isn't this just another way of saying 'at least European invaders didn't massacre them all'?
    The reviewer also comments, with apparent disapproval, that "For some historians, an appreciation of the actual damage done to Aboriginal people by colonialism can cause bias to affect their work." I would think that the most objective historians should be rightly concerned about 'actual damage done to Aboriginal people by colonialism', and that acknowledging that damage should not draw a charge of bias.
    I'm afraid I disagree with your reviewer - Rowse's work sounds very much like an apologist interpretation of colonial policies, at least from this review of it.

    Monday, 12 March 2018 12:41 posted by Clare Rhoden

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