Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Shared Landscapes. Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales

Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Shared Landscapes. Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales

Article excerpt

Shared Landscapes. Archaeologies of attachment and the pastoral industry in New South Wales By Rodney Harrison Department of Environment and Conservation, New South Wales and University of New South Wales Press, 2004. ISBN 0 86840 559 0 (paper). Pp. xiv+240. $49.95.

I initially began this book unconvinced by the very idea of a 'shared landscape--'sharing', after all, would seem to imply consent and Aboriginal people were rarely, if ever, given this opportunity in colonial society. The landscape may well be 'shared' now, partly in the sense that Aboriginal people quite rightly deserve the opportunity to assert their 'deep and intimate attachments to [pastoral] heritage' (p. xii), but even more so in that the very concept of sharing is a much more comfortable cover for the appropriation and governance that is an integral part of cultural heritage management.

I am pleased to say that Harrison demolished these assumptions from the very first chapter. Recognising the inherent dilemma of trying to capture an ever-fluid cultural landscape, while at the same time working within a management regime that intrinsically demands boundaries, Harrison brings a subtle theoretical engagement to the two central case studies: the East Kunderang Pastoral Station in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and the Dennawan Aboriginal Reserve in Culgoa National Park. He deliberately seeks to move away from the 'woolsheds and homesteads' mindset of the pastoral 'pioneer' (p. 224), and towards a focus on 'landscape biographies', as a means to map people's attachment to place by charting the ways they lived their lives in and through the landscape (p. 122). In doing so, Harrison has woven together a great range and variety of information, much of which is complementary, some of which is not. His explicit agenda throughout, however, is to map the gaps between these fragments as much as the links themselves.

'Shared' thus comes to mean 'mutually constitutive' rather than 'agreed', and includes the bad as well as the good (p. 5). This history is not shared in the sense in which it was homogenous, but through the mutual self-definitions of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who lived and worked together (and were sometimes segregated from one another) in the study areas (p. …

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