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If land was a head: a critique of country


Rolls, M, If land was a head: a critique of country, Zeitschrift fur Australienstudien, 32 ISSN 1617-9900 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.35515/zfa/asj.32/2018.09


This paper considers specific cultural practices and beliefs and contemplates the western rejection of exotica (head-hunting) in one instance, and the exotifying of land (increasingly referred to as country) in the other. The paper will argue that while the precise meaning of head-hunting remains elusive to aliens (even other head-hunters from different cultures), just as the full meaning of land or "country" to Aborigines remains elusive to aliens (including Aborigines from different regions), there are contiguities between Indigenous understandings of heads and Indigenous understandings of country. Contrary to the taking of heads the paper then argues that notions of land and country are readily sentimentalised along the lines of "the earth is my mother", and that such sentiments contribute to broad support for Aboriginal land rights. Such sentiments also provide a ready means for Aborigines who have never lived on country to nevertheless explain its significance to them. A broad sweep of contemporary interests – concern for the environment for example – intersect with customary beliefs relating to country and are reified in local communities, which in turn influences how specific cultures are understood and which aspects of culture should be conserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:land, country, Aborigines, head-hunting, settler, belonging
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Anthropology
Research Field:Social and cultural anthropology
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Rolls, M (Dr Mitchell Rolls)
ID Code:133295
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-06-21
Last Modified:2019-08-12
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