Culture and heritage

Aboriginal cultural heritage

After Captain Cook: the archaeology of the recent Indigenous past in Australia

Until the 1990s, with some noteworthy exceptions, the archaeology of the recent Indigenous past existed largely as a curiosity among the 'real business' of writing Aboriginal prehistory and settler-colonial history.

However, in recent years there has been rapidly growing interest among both academic and public archaeologists in this area. The change has come partly from within the discipline itself, but also reflects the increasing involvement of Aboriginal communities in setting archaeological research agendas, both in cultural heritage management as well as in 'pure' academic research.

The increasingly mainstream nature of research into the recent Aboriginal past in Australia is reflected in 'After Captain Cook: The archaeology of the recent Indigenous past in Australia', edited by Rodney Harrison and Christine Williamson, Sydney University Archaeological Methods Series volume 8.

This edited volume of papers, published in conjunction with the Archaeological Computing Laboratory (ACL) at the University of Sydney, contains 12 papers describing recent research on the historical archaeology of Aboriginal Australia, and the shared history of Aboriginal and settler Australians after 1788.

The conference session that forms the basis for this volume was the first session devoted specifically to the study of the historical archaeology of Aboriginal Australia. The session was part of the Australian Archaeological Association Annual conference at Beechworth, Victoria in December 2000.

The volume includes both the papers presented at the conference session, along with another four chapters written specifically for the book, and goes some way towards demonstrating what these new approaches to the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia 'after Captain Cook' might look like.

The volume will be of interest to academic and public archaeologists, anthropologists and historians, heritage managers, and Aboriginal communities. In the light of current debates surrounding reconciliation and native title, it forms a timely and topical review of contemporary work on the archaeology of the recent Indigenous past in Australia.

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Page last updated: 26 February 2011