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New Article, Colonial History
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:02 pm    Post subject: New Article, Colonial History Reply with quote

Something of a shameless self plug here - I have a new academic article out in a History journal this week. Not sure if it's electronically available just yet, but I have received my copies.

The journal is the 'Journal of Australian Colonial History', 2011, Vol. 13. My article appears on pp 183-206, and concerns the use of museum collections to construct Aboriginality. Incidentally, I will be presenting a similar paper at the World Archaeology Conference in Indianapolis this year in June on a slightly more nuanced but related topic: [url]wacmuseums.info/accepted.html[/url]
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats Montressor. Very Happy

--A
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. I'm rather pleased, I must say. But it's also good to get these kinds of issues out there. I'm currently working on a catalogue of material that the Museum will publish, which will have a wider audience than the academic world.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think I ever knew you were in that field. We've got another archaeologist aboard too. Kinslaughterer. Specialises in the Clovis peoples IIRC. He's been pretty scarce the last few years, alternating between studying somewhere and digging up middens.

Always good for an argument ol' Kins. Laughing

Anyway, excellent...another expert to pester for stuff. Wink

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indiana, huh? That might be close enough to crash Razz Wink

Seriously, though, congratulations!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orlion wrote:
Indiana, huh? That might be close enough to crash Razz Wink

Seriously, though, congratulations!


Thank you Smile

Avatar wrote:
I don't think I ever knew you were in that field. We've got another archaeologist aboard too. Kinslaughterer. Specialises in the Clovis peoples IIRC. He's been pretty scarce the last few years, alternating between studying somewhere and digging up middens.

Always good for an argument ol' Kins. Laughing

Anyway, excellent...another expert to pester for stuff. Wink

--A


I'm actually a historian, though my main supervisor is a very well respected archaeologist. I use material culture, anthropology and archaeology extensively, but I have to follow what I know (the discipline of History). Too few historians bother with material culture which is a great shame as the major growth area of History these days is in Historical Archaeology. What are documents, after all, but another kind of material culture?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Records of a material culture. Or evidence, or detritus. I dunno if the documents are a culture in themselves.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say no more, or no less, than say a spear, a stone tool or a painting. I guess it depends on the definition of 'material culture' that you want to use but I tend to support those which posit that material culture is the expression of society's ideals, habits, values, and life through artefacts. Whether material is the by-product of culture, or culture is the by-product of material is another matter entirely, of course.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say a by-product. Without the culture, the material wouldn't have existed.

Of course, we could argue that without the material...perhaps they develop in conjunction with each other.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an interesting debate to have, that's for sure. How much of early cultural developments were dictated by the use of specific tools, for example? Note the profound societal differences between Hunter Gatherer and Agrarian societies.

I'd be inclined to err on the side of mutuality, myself, but I can't say I've made my mind up on the issue by a long shot.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never thought about it.

The invention of the bow and arrow for example, probably shaped the culture that invented it. But the culture had to invent it before it could shape them...

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
I've never thought about it.

The invention of the bow and arrow for example, probably shaped the culture that invented it. But the culture had to invent it before it could shape them...

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reminds me of the Sufi parable...I'm here because of you, and you're here because of me...

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much does necessity or accident aid invention? Take burial rites as an example (although this is not so much material culture). Burial or cremation makes logical sense as a means of limiting disease, but then ritual and religion grows from this simple practice. Eventually, these rituals become more important than the simple need of disposing of the dead.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the need remains. But I agree it gets subsumed by the rest. As you point out, not too material though.

However, I'm sure accident plays a big role. Perhaps not in my example, in which I'd guess an ituitive leap is made, but it's possible in, say, the discovery of flint an a fire-making tool.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I was merely getting excited about the discussion without caring about broadening the topic too much. Smile

Though there is a comparable example from recent contemporary Indigenous Australian culture I should have mentioned. There's a guy going around (I think in Western Australia) conducting male circumcisions with the traditional tools simply because he says it's part of his culture. As the tools are the only thing he knows were part of his culture, he follows what is now an incredibly painful and needless practice. That's a kind of reification in my view.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's much more apparent in non-material cultural aspects. It's harder to quantify in material culture, at least partly for reasons we've alreadt considered.

As for your example, I'm not sure...he might be seeing the object as his "ideal" as it were, but if the tool and the practise are from his cultural heritage, then its practicality is irrelevant to its cultural significance/whatever.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
I think it's much more apparent in non-material cultural aspects. It's harder to quantify in material culture, at least partly for reasons we've alreadt considered.


Agree absolutely.

Avatar wrote:

As for your example, I'm not sure...he might be seeing the object as his "ideal" as it were, but if the tool and the practise are from his cultural heritage, then its practicality is irrelevant to its cultural significance/whatever.

--A


I'd say that he is seeing it like that, but there'd be no practice for him without the tools. Of course, the custom has transcended it's material, but still relies upon it absolutely (at least in this case).

But I should pull back from advocating this particular interpretation too much further, as I take a more adaptive approach to material culture in general. My thesis was partly about the introduction of cross-cultural materials into object manufacture (amongst other things), so I feel there are numerous instances of creative adaptation in this regard as opposed to slavish conservatism. 'Tradition' is something I feel is a little bit of an imaginary construct; I generally prefer T.S.Eliot's definition of tradition as something which has to be evolutionary.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think ultimately it is evolutionary. Especially in the sense that it takes thousands of years to change it... Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
I think ultimately it is evolutionary. Especially in the sense that it takes thousands of years to change it... Laughing

--A


I would argue that Hobsbawm was right, and that there are only invented traditions, no real traditions. But, an evolving tradition is another way of looking at it that I think is passable.
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