Anthropology and Aboriginal Tradition: The Hindmarsh Island Bridge Affair and the Politics of Interpretation

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Abstract

Events that have become popularly known as 'the Hindmarsh affair' arose from conflict over a bridge development, and refer to an Aboriginal heritage issue that has had a significant impact on Australian society. The attendant controversy and dissension have ramified widely, beyond matters of Aboriginal heritage and its relationship to development, to include the status and role of anthropological research and reporting, past and present. A brief chronology of developments both prior to and following the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Royal Commission (1995) is provided here as a backdrop for discussion of these matters. Other salient issues also examined include: the nature of culture in relation to the complexities of 'tradition' and the effects of change; the structural correlates of secrets; the politics of interpretation; and the legitimacy of innovative processes in Aboriginal cultural construction and representation. In conclusion, some implications of the Hindmarsh affair for the anthropology profession are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
JournalOceania
Volume68
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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