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Growing Up in Central Australia

Growing Up in Central Australia: New Anthropological Studies of Aboriginal Childhood and Adolescence

Edited by Ute Eickelkamp
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    Growing Up in Central Australia
    Book Description:

    Surprisingly little research has been carried out about how Australian Aboriginal children and teenagers experience life, shape their social world and imagine the future. This volume presents recent and original studies of life experiences outside the institutional settings of childcare and education, of those growing up in contemporary Central Australia or with strong links to the region. Focusing on the remote communities - roughly 1,200 across the continent - the volume includes case studies of language and family life in small country towns and urban contexts. These studies expertly show that forms of consciousness have changed enormously over the last hundred years for Indigenous societies more so than for the rest of Australia, yet equally notable are the continuities across generations.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-083-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. Introduction. Aboriginal Children and Young People in Focus
    (pp. 1-12)
    Ute Eickelkamp

    Indigenous people, while still a small minority, represent the youngest and fastest-growing population sector in Australia. Arguably, their culture is also the most profoundly transforming.¹ Yet there is astonishingly little research on how Indigenous children and adolescents experience life, shape their social world and imagine the future. The idea for this collection began with the observation that there exists no concerted effort that describes the lives and self-perceptions of young Indigenous Australians within a broadly defined cultural region. To produce such a record has an intrinsic intellectual value. Potentially, it also has a political value given the persistent view of...


    • CHAPTER 1 ʹLess was hidden among these childrenʹ: Géza Róheim, Anthropology and the Politics of Aboriginal Childhood
      (pp. 15-48)
      John Morton

      On 13 January 1929, SydneyʹsSunday Pictorialcarried the following headline: ʹWILL ANALYSE PRIMITIVE MANʹ. The accompanying text included the following statements:

      Freudʹs theory on the analogy between civilised neurotics and primitive man will be tested in practice, it is hoped, by an expedition that has left Europe for Australia and New Guinea.

      The party is headed by Dr G. Roheim, Hungarian anthropologist and psycho-analyst. His wife, who is expected to be a valuable aid with women and children among uncivilised tribes, accompanies him.

      The aim of the expedition is to analyse primitive man – to discover the origin and...

    • CHAPTER 2 Envisioning Lives at Ernabella
      (pp. 49-62)
      Katrina Tjitayi and Sandra Lewis

      This chapter is an edited translation prepared by Margaret Dagg and Ute Eickelkamp, of spoken reflections by two women from Ernabella (Pukatja) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia. With a highly fluctuating population of between 350 and 670, Ernabella is the largest and oldest of seventeen communities and ninety so-called homelands dotted across the 103,000 square kilometres of the APY Lands. The Aboriginal population in the area has grown fourfold over the last five decades to an estimated 2,500 in 2004. The APY Lands have been held under inalienable freehold title since 1981, when Anangu gained...

    • CHAPTER 3 Warungka: Becoming and Unbecoming a Warlpiri Person
      (pp. 63-81)
      Yasmine Musharbash

      In this chapter, I discuss the socialization of Warlpiri children in relation to the treatment of old, socially incapacitated people, focusing in both contexts on the key concept,warungka. This Warlpiri term encompasses a range of meanings, including deaf, crazy, forgetful, mindless, unconscious, intoxicated and irate. In addition to these situationally ascribed meanings, it is also used to label the state of being of (a) children from their conception until they become social persons, and (b) old persons when they begin to lose their social capacities. I explore this perceived resemblance between the two phases at the beginning and the...

    • CHAPTER 4 Fathers and Sons, Trajectories of Self: Reflections on Pintupi Lives and Futures
      (pp. 82-100)
      Fred R. Myers

      Questions about childhood in Indigenous Australian communities have become very significant politically, but – with some exceptions – anthropologists have not developed the ethnography of childhood as one might have imagined. What this would involve, I have often thought, is a much greater attention to the interactions and communicative practices (linguistic and otherwise) between children and caregivers as well as among children themselves (seeOchs and Schieffelin 1984; Schieffelin 1990). I always wished I had been able to do this with the attention it deserved, because the general models of childhood and socialization that have been developed (of nurturance, autonomy,...


    • CHAPTER 5 Sand Storytelling: Its Social Meaning in Anangu Childrenʹs Lives
      (pp. 103-130)
      Ute Eickelkamp

      At Ernabella on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northwest South Australia, the creation of stories drawn in the sand is a favourite medium for girls to present their thoughts. Since I first began research in this remote Western Desert community of around five hundred people in 1995, I cannot recall a day there passing without seeing sand stories being performed. The telling of sand stories, like the activity of dreaming (Poirier 2003), is part and parcel of the daily ʹflow of eventsʹ. Girls begin to practice the bodily posture and movements of the distinctive technique at about two years...

    • CHAPTER 6 Young Childrenʹs Social Meaning Making in a New Mixed Language
      (pp. 131-155)
      Carmel OʹShannessy

      The play and peer interactions of children in many places in the world have been well documented, but there is little documentation of the interactions and activities of young Aboriginal children in remote communities in Australia. In this chapter I present a snapshot of the kinds of spoken interactions young children engage in with each other in one remote Aboriginal community, the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu in the northern part of Central Australia. The data, drawn from approximately eighty hours of videotaped interactions between children aged two years to five years, with other children and with their carers, shows that...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Yard
      (pp. 156-180)
      Craig San Roque

      I guess rabbits have an innate sense of design. A rabbit warren gives a bunny plenty of chances to get in and out of home in a hurry. Plenty of holes and somewhere deep down there is a place where the rabbit babies are safe. Containment and surveillance, entrances and exits, are significant and some animal, insect and flora ʹdwellingsʹ are intricately constructed around safeguarding their offspringʹs welfare and development.

      InTristes Tropiques, Claude Lévi-Strauss (1997: 248–76) describes the circular layout and social activities of a native village in Brazilian Matto Grosso. Especially instructive is his observation that the...


    • CHAPTER 8 Organization within Disorder: The Present and Future of Young People in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands
      (pp. 183-212)
      David Brooks

      In light of the furore that has arisen since 2006 on the subject of remote Aboriginal communities,¹ it is timely to test some of the general propositions typically put, against a particular ethnographic context. The debate as conducted in media and political circles tends to measure remote Aboriginal people in generic ways and to employ assumptions about their (failed) participation in a national polity. In contrast, in this chapter I focus on a particular remote groupʹs youth as embedded in a social world. My aim is to show how the world of relevance to the life situation of these young...

    • CHAPTER 9 Being Mardu: Change and Challenge for Some Western Desert Young People Today
      (pp. 213-238)
      Myrna Tonkinson

      A commonly stated cliché is the claim that Aboriginal Australians are caught between two worlds: the beliefs, values and attitudes of their ʹtraditionalʹ culture, and those of the dominant society, which has as its foundations European traditions and worldview. Statements of this type are common in the mass media and among lay observers of Aboriginal people and their communities, and they can also be heard among Aboriginal people themselves.¹ There is, in the case of the young Mardu people with whom I have conducted research, some factual basis for this unsubtle generalization. The metaphor has validity insofar as people perceive...

    • CHAPTER 10 Invisible and Visible Loyalties in Racialized Contexts: A Systemic Perspective on Aboriginal Youth
      (pp. 239-272)
      Marika Moisseeff

      We heard quite late that the funeral would take place the following day in Coober Pedy. Having left Port Augusta soon after, we arrived in the middle of the night at the mournersʹ house. After solemnly shaking hands with everyone as is expected on such occasions, one old man held on to my hand saying: ʹWho the hell are you?ʹ Indeed I was the only non-Aboriginal person present, and obviously a foreigner. It would have been quite embarrassing to explain then and there that I was an anthropologist and so forth, and so I just answered, ʹI am a half-caste...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 273-275)
  11. References
    (pp. 276-292)
  12. Index
    (pp. 293-298)