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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.

Philip Jones reviews 'Capturing Nature: Early scientific photography at the Australian Museum 1857–1893' by Vanessa Finney

April 2019, no. 410 25 March 2019
The photographic resources of museums and their archives have emerged as key sources for studying the natural world and human cultures, particularly as those studies have widened to include the techniques and modus operandi of scientists and anthropologists themselves. Their notebooks and field equipment, ranging from collecting jars to cameras, are now routinely exhibited and published together w ... (read more)

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

March 2018, no. 399 21 February 2018
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 o ... (read more)

'Among Trees' by Philip Jones

October 2017, no. 395 28 September 2017
Even young trees bear the signature of deep time, if not eternity. For most of humanity’s existence, men and women have looked upwards through trees, wondering at the tracery of their branches piercing the firmament, the domed lid of the earthly world. Recorded mythology confirms that trees have occupied that special place in every ancient belief system; rooted in the terrestrial but reaching in ... (read more)

'Beyond Songlines' by Philip Jones

September 2017, no. 394 24 August 2017
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this essay contains images or names of people who have since passed away. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, one of the most influential books about Australia to reach an international audience. It appeared just months after The Fatal Shore (1986) by Robert Hughes, and ... (read more)

Philip Jones reviews 'Into the heart of Tasmania: A search for human antiquity' by Rebe Taylor

May 2017, no. 391 28 April 2017
The historian Rebe Taylor has a fascination with Australia’s southern islands and their capacity to contain or magnify issues of identity for their indigenous inhabitants, if not for their broader populations. Her first book, Unearthed: The Aboriginal Tasmanians of Kangaroo Island (2012), traced the forgotten story of the Tasmanian Aboriginal women taken there by British and American sealers dur ... (read more)