Article ID: CBB001201577

“Why Can't They Put Their Names?”: Colonial Photography, Repatriation and Social Memory (2014)

unapi

This paper explores the relationships between a particular photographic archive, Indigenous Australians and early ethnography. Colonial ethnographers, Spencer and Gillen, travelled throughout Central and Northern Australia in 1901 and 1902. Their experiences in the town of Borroloola with the local Indigenous peoples, in particular the Yanyuwa people, are contrasted to their experiences in other regions that they travelled through. While at Borroloola, Spencer and Gillen photographed a number of Yanyuwa men and women. In 1981, the repatriation of those images back into the community facilitated discussion about the appropriate positioning of each individual in Yanyuwa systems of kinship, and debate around the ceremonial details recorded, informing new layers of social memory. Yanyuwa elders expressed joy at viewing, naming and positioning the long deceased kin but when the identity of the person could not be recalled, responses conveyed a deep sense of loss. This paper explores the response to one of these photographs and explores in detail the resonances that this one photograph holds for the Yanyuwa community.

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Authors & Contributors
Edwards, Elizabeth
Hart, Janice
Gray, Geoffrey
Schröder, Wilfried
Hoffmann, Christoph
Fieschi, Caroline
Journals
History and Anthropology
Journal of Pacific History
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Historical Journal
Arizona Quarterly
Antiquity
Publishers
Routledge
WP Druck & Verlag
C.T.H.S.
Blackwell Publishers
Yale University Press
Concepts
Anthropology
Cultural anthropology
Ethnography
Colonialism
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Photography
People
Chinnery, Ernest William Pearson
Eylmann, Erhard
Salcher, Peter
Mach, Ernst
Latham, R. G. (Robert Gordon)
Stirling, Edward Charles
Places
Australia
Germany
United States
New Guinea
Berlin (Germany)
Great Britain
Times
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
18th century
Ancient
Institutions
Crystal Palace
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