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Journal Article

The Divided History of Dugong Oil: The Cross-Cultural Circulation of an Indigenous Medicine in 1940s Queensland

Veronika Folkmanova
Health and History
Vol. 16, No. 2 (2014), pp. 24-43
DOI: 10.5401/healthhist.16.2.0024
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5401/healthhist.16.2.0024
Page Count: 20
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The Divided History of Dugong Oil: The Cross-Cultural Circulation of an Indigenous Medicine in 1940s Queensland
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Abstract

Through the effects of colonisation, materials such as food, tools and medicines are appropriated and transformed to appeal to different consumer groups creating new points of interaction and combined histories. These products flow through colonial pathways between indigenous peoples and Europeans and create a connection in which interactions are inevitable. In Australia, dugong oil was a product that traversed the spatial and racial divide being consumed by both Aboriginal and white people. I argue that whether used as a ‘scientific’ medicine bought at the local chemist, a detested medicine enforced by colonial authorities, or a remedy passed down through generations, the story of dugong oil uncovers the duality of objects and complicates the history of Aboriginal-European interaction.

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