Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Transgressions: Critical Australian Indigenous histories

Ingereth Macfarlane
Mark Hannah
Volume: 16
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: ANU Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This volume brings together an innovative set of readings of complex interactions between Australian Aboriginal people and colonisers. The underlying theme is that of 'transgression', and Michel Foucault's account of the necessary dynamic that exists between transgression and limit. We know what constitutes the limit, not by tracing or re-stating the boundaries, but by crossing over them. By exploring the mechanisms by which limits are set and maintained, unexamined cultural assumptions and dominant ideas are illuminated. We see the expectations and the structures that inform and support them revealed, often as they unravel. Such illuminations and revelations are at the core of the Australian Indigenous histories presented in this collection.

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-43-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Ingereth Macfarlane
  5. 1. François Péron and the Tasmanians: an unrequited romance
    (pp. 1-18)
    Shino Konishi

    François Péron was my first. A slight man with a sickly aspect, blind in one eye and possessing a long patrician nose that gave him an imperious air,¹ he had a tendency to be self-indulgent, was intensely political in his relationships, and was not averse to machination against anyone he developed a dislike for. He could easily tell the odd lie or bend the truth if he saw any benefit to himself in it. He certainly could not be accused of mincing his words. His dedication to self-justification and self-aggrandising was exasperating to say the least.

    I first encountered Péron...

  6. 2. Moving Blackwards: Black Power and the Aboriginal Embassy
    (pp. 19-34)
    Kathy Lothian

    It is February 1972, and Canberra’s Parliament House lawns are a busy, thriving protest site. Only metres from the front steps of the building a green-striped beach umbrella marks the spot where, on Australia Day, several Aboriginal activists set up camp. Now the umbrella has been joined by several tents. Cardboard placards display roughly-drawn slogans proclaiming the activists’ anger and intentions: ‘DESTROY ARNHEM LAND WE DESTROY AUSTRALIA’. ‘WHY PAY TO USE OUR OWN LAND’. ‘WHICH DO WE CHOOSE. LAND RIGHTS OR BLOODSHED!’¹ Above them all, flapping from the umbrella’s canopy, the sign that binds them: ‘Aboriginal Embassy’. To stand on...

  7. 3. Criminal justice and transgression on northern Australian cattle stations
    (pp. 35-62)
    Thalia Anthony

    The remote interior of northern Australia represented a site of transgression for both pastoral colonisers and Aborigines alike. From the northern frontier period in the late nineteenth century until the 1966 Equal Pay decision, a unique relationship existed on cattle stations in which pastoralists and their Aboriginal workers deviated from government control. Despite Aboriginal protection legislation that prevailed elsewhere in northern Australia, pastoralists created their own jurisdiction over Aboriginal people. This jurisdiction bypassed the assimilationist tendencies of government policy, by allowing Aboriginal people to practice customs and ceremonies, and retain connections to country.¹ At the same time, it maximised the...

  8. 4. Dreaming the circle: indigeneity and the longing for belonging in White Australia
    (pp. 63-82)
    Jane Mulcock

    In settler-descendant societies indigenous identity becomes a powerful and a fraught symbol of belonging to place. Multiple voices negotiate its meaning, make claims and counter-claims, extend invitations and deny access. One Australian says ‘we are all indigenous to somewhere. My ancestors were Scottish’. He says ‘here, in the bush, where I was born, where I grew up, I can feel the spirits watching me’.¹ Another says ‘I am seventh generation Australian. I am indigenous. I am proud’.² In court, in a native title dispute, a White forester says ‘My family has lived here for generations… I have the right to...

  9. 5. Resisting the captured image: how Gwoja Tjungurrayi, ‘One Pound Jimmy’, escaped the ‘Stone Age’
    (pp. 83-134)
    Jillian E Barnes

    The language used in this story is quoted directly from tourism marketing material. These tourism images and the language used to create them are important historical records. They both reflect and help shape attitudes and aspirations. Some of these images are now considered unacceptable. My purpose is to highlight historical sensibilities. By referring to them I seek to critique rather than endorse their usage.

    Aboriginal readers are warned that this paper includes names and images of deceased persons. I thank Gabriel Possum and Isobel Hagan for kindly granting their permission to reproduce images of their grandfather, Gwoja Tjungurrayi.

    A chance...

  10. 6. On the romances of marriage, love and solitude: freedom and transgression in Cape York Peninsula in the early to mid twentieth century
    (pp. 135-152)
    Jinki Trevillian

    Our romances are lived as much in our imaginations as in reality. Always included in our experiences are the thoughts and feelings that expand beyond the given situation, the things not said or done. These romantic relationships extend boundaries, and are met with repression. Rebellious relationships that break the laws of a society question the values of that society. People desire to protect their intimate stories precisely because of the possibility of public conflict and censure. Theodore Zeldin writes that:

    For most of history, love has been considered a threat to the stability of the individual and of society, because...

  11. 7. ‘Hanging no good for blackfellow’: looking into the life of Musquito
    (pp. 153-176)
    Naomi Parry

    On the morning of 25 February 1825 in the Hobart Town Gaol, two Aboriginal men were hanged, alongside six white bushrangers. The Aboriginal men were known only by the nicknames of Musquito and Black Jack. Musquito had been convicted of aiding and abetting the wilful murder of a stock-keeper at Grindstone Bay on Tasmania’s east coast in 1823, and Black Jack faced the gallows for a second murder. In 1826 two more Aborigines, Jack and Dick, were convicted of murder and hanged. These four hangings took place after a surge of Aboriginal violence. The newly-arrived Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur declared they...

  12. 8. Leadership: the quandary of Aboriginal societies in crises, 1788 – 1830, and 1966
    (pp. 177-192)
    Dennis Foley

    The sound of a British officer’s leather-soled boot crunching on Hawkesbury sandstone in January 1788 resonated with change in Indigenous Australian epistemologies forever. The British invasion brought a new form of ‘science’ to the Australian landscape. Western knowledge systems were to be the ‘truth’ without peer.¹ The imposition of the British system resulted in a progressive elimination and near extermination of Indigenous Australian social systems, knowledge, governance, economy and education.² Perhaps the most devastating aspect of this conquest was the social construction of race that placed Indigenous Australians in a scientifically inferior space. Indigenous people were seen as sub-human with...

  13. 9. Sedentary topography: the impact of the Christian Mission Society’s ‘civilising’ agenda on the spatial structure of life in the Roper Region of northern Australia
    (pp. 193-210)
    Angelique Edmonds

    Near the Hodgson River in Australia’s Northern Territory stands a series of buildings, established initially during cattle station development and now constituting the Aboriginal settlement of Minyerri. In July 2003 the population had swollen considerably for a funeral ceremony. We waited by the women’s camp a few kilometres from town, the crowds forgotten in the gravity of our anticipation. A breeze caught the edge of a hanging tarpaulin and the makeshift wall screening the women from view billowed momentarily, exposing their white faces and their application of more white body paint to cover themselves. They had been living under this...

  14. 10. Sinful enough for Jesus: guilt and Christianisation at Mapoon, Queensland
    (pp. 211-228)
    Devin Bowles

    The mission at Mapoon is the site of myriad stories. Many have already been lost to time and more will follow as another generation takes its memories to the grave. The narrative related here is not the only one that might be told. It concerns the missionaries who founded Mapoon and, most importantly for this telling, the Aboriginal people who became Christian while these missionaries were there. There were other Aboriginal people who did not become Christian. Some who stayed did not become Christian; others left permanently. They have other stories to be told another time.

    This story is a...

  15. 11. Corrupt desires and the wages of sin: Indigenous people, missionaries and male sexuality, 1830-1850
    (pp. 229-250)
    Jessie Mitchell

    In 1841, Reverend Francis Tuckfield of the Buntingdale mission near Geelong, Victoria, recorded a conversation he had recently had with a group of Aboriginal men. The men were impressed by a new hut being built on the mission and announced to Tuckfield that they wanted huts of their own, but these would have to be spacious, to accommodate their three wives each. Tuckfield told them sternly that if they wanted the material benefits of European housing they should also adopt the moral benefits of European monogamy. The men were more puzzled than offended by Tuckfield’s lecture on the sin of...