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Genetic connections: Rebe Taylor discusses the problematic issue of using DNA and blood to decide who is an Indigenous Australian and who is not

Citation

Taylor, R, Genetic connections: Rebe Taylor discusses the problematic issue of using DNA and blood to decide who is an Indigenous Australian and who is not, The Knowledge Solution: Australian History, Melbourne University Press, A Clark (ed), Melbourne, pp. 244-248. ISBN 9780522875423 (2019) [Revised Book Chapter]


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Abstract

Doe the revelation of a deep past give Tasmanian Aborigines a history, or does it, in the ambition to find our common origins, make them disappear all over again? ‘If we go sufficiently far back, everyone’s ancestors are shared,’ writes Richard Dawkins. What is ‘sufficiently’? The question is the point of his book, The Ancestor’s Tale, and he (with Yan Wong) models an answer with Tasmanian geography. When rising seas at the end of the Pleistocene isolated the Tasmanians they became, Dawkins posits, the first group of humans geographically removed from a previously shared global gene pool. The last Tasmanian generation or, more symbolically, the last Tasmanian ‘mother’ to bridge the separated populations potentially encompassed the genes of all humanity. She is our ‘Mitochondrial Eve’. 1 I wonder: does this make us all Tasmanian Aborigines? Or, by the same reasoning, does it make no one a Tasmanian Aborigine? Or is the question absurd? The concepts of ‘Tasmanian’ and ‘Aborigine’, and even the geography that shaped them, did not exist at the end of the last Pleistocene.

Item Details

Item Type:Revised Book Chapter
Keywords:Tasmania, history, Aboriginal identity, DNA, archaeology
Research Division:History and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical Studies
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
Objective Division:Cultural Understanding
Objective Group:Understanding Past Societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's Past
UTAS Author:Taylor, R (Dr Rebe Taylor)
ID Code:135538
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:College Office - CALE
Deposited On:2019-10-30
Last Modified:2019-11-13
Downloads:0

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