Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Historical Dictionary of Australian Aborigines

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Historical Dictionary of Australian Aborigines

Article excerpt

Historical dictionary of Australian Aborigines

Mitchell Rolls and Murray Johnson 2011

The Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 213pp., ISBN 978 0 8108 5997 5

This compilation, useful as it is, would have been of more value if the authors had given more thought to the scope of their coverage. As it is, the book attempts to embrace traditional Aboriginal anthropology and material culture, as well as the history of black-white interaction from 1606 to the present social and political scene. In other words, it is a miniature Aboriginal encyclopaedia. Perhaps, however, this was due to the requirements of the US-based publisher's series, Historical dictionaries of peoples and cultures, of which it is part.

Although the history of official policy since 1788 ought to be central, there are no entries for such key figures as AO Neville and Paul Hasluck. HC Coombs, on the other hand, is included, no doubt because he is seen to have been progressive. This does not explain, however, why the anthropologists Baldwin Spencer, Elkin, Stanner, Strehlow and the Berndts should have been relegated to a selective bibliography, while Daisy Bates receives an error-strewn page that makes no reference to her work's relevance to native title cases. Historians are also ignored, although Henry Reynolds provides a nicely condensed historical overview in his introduction to the book. …

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