From illustration to evidence: Historical photographs and Aboriginal native title claims in south-east Queensland, Australia

Michael J. Aird, Joanna Sassoon, David Trigger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Native title claims in Australia require research about traditional Aboriginal connections to land and waters. The relevant legislation seeks to establish if traditional law and custom has continued to provide rights to ‘country’ on the part of those identifying with deceased forebears and their occupation of the land at the time of British colonization. For the region of southeast Queensland there is a rich body of photographs documented in the late 1800s that can inform both research data and the evidence of Aboriginal native title claimants. Photographs in our case study emerge as potentially of considerable significance for anthropological research that is commissioned and applied in the production of expert opinion reports for native title legal proceedings. The photographs are, subject to memory and interpretation, also of great relevance for Aboriginal people seeking to claim rights and interests in their traditional lands and waters. This article addresses the potential intellectual productivity of historical photographs as well as tensions arising from their ambiguous status in legal proceedings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAnthropology and Photography
Volume13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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