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Indigenous Intermediaries

Indigenous Intermediaries: New perspectives on exploration archives OPEN ACCESS

Shino Konishi
Maria Nugent
Tiffany Shellam
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Indigenous Intermediaries
    Book Description:

    This edited collection understands exploration as a collective effort and experience involving a variety of people in diverse kinds of relationships. It engages with the recent resurgence of interest in the history of exploration by focusing on the various indigenous intermediaries – Jacky Jacky, Bungaree, Moowattin, Tupaia, Mai, Cheealthluc and lesser-known individuals – who were the guides, translators, and hosts that assisted and facilitated European travellers in exploring different parts of the world. These intermediaries are rarely the authors of exploration narratives, or the main focus within exploration archives. Nonetheless the archives of exploration contain imprints of their presence, experience and contributions. The chapters present a range of ways of reading archives to bring them to the fore. The contributors ask new questions of existing materials, suggest new interpretive approaches, and present innovative ways to enhance sources so as to generate new stories.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-77-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Shino Konishi, Maria Nugent and Tiffany Shellam

    Since the 1990s, a number of scholars have sought to uncover ‘hidden histories’ of exploration, as Felix Driver and Lowri Jones have referred to it.¹ Working against a conventional emphasis on the exploits and achievements of the singular heroic explorer, imperial and colonial exploration is recast as a collective enterprise involving a diverse labour force and upon which expeditions were dependent for their progress and success.² Various approaches are pursued for writing a more representative history of exploration, such as recuperating from the archives the stories of little- or lesser-known participants; rewriting histories of particular expeditions through the lens of...

  2. Felix Driver

    In 1861, the Schlagintweit brothers published the first of a multi-volume account of their large-scale scientific explorations in India between 1854 and 1858.¹ Dedicated to the Royal Society, the book was co-published in London (by Trübner) and Leipzig (by Brockhaus), an arrangement reflecting the transnational nature of their expedition, which had been sponsored jointly by the East India Company and the King of Prussia. The bulk of the first volume was devoted to reported calculations of latitude and longitude, together with tables of magnetic observations. This was prefaced by, amongst other things, a narrative of the violent death of the...

  3. Catherine Bishop and Richard White

    In the nineteenth century, those men that the British world dubbed explorers – always men – were celebrities. The designated leaders of expeditions were distinguished from other members of their parties: they wrote the journals, won the accolades, obtained the honours and had their portraits done, while those who accompanied them generally faded into obscurity. Expeditions were recorded in popular culture by the names of their leaders. We still remember Mitchell, Leichhardt and Sturt, but seldom those who accompanied them, whether European or Indigenous. Aboriginal communities remember those expeditions and the Indigenous people who accompanied them differently,¹ but this chapter...

  4. Maria Nugent

    One obstacle to writing detailed histories and rounded biographies of Aboriginal guides who participated in nineteenth-century exploration is the dearth of source material, especially accounts provided by Aboriginal guides themselves. Within the epistemology of exploration, Indigenous guides and other intermediaries were rarely accorded the status of author, an honour preserved for the expedition leader or expedition scientists and naturalists.¹ Published exploration narratives sometimes disavowed Aboriginal guides and their contributions, a situation influenced by the premise that scientific knowledge was gained by an explorer’s unmediated and unfettered encounters with places and people.² Even though intermediaries were indispensable to many expeditions, the...

  5. Tiffany Shellam

    Until recently, Australian exploration historiography has tended to cast and interpret the encounters between European explorers and Aboriginal people in terms of a dyadic, hierarchical relationship. This has strengthened the assumption that within the context of exploration, encounters are only ever between Indigenous people and Europeans, and only ever occur in a binary relationship. Yet exploration archives indicate that European explorers were well aware of the extra dynamic that the presence of a ‘native aid’, or ‘intermediary’, brought to encounters. They stress, for instance, their unfamiliarity with new environments, the limits of their languages, and the misunderstandings that sometimes arose...

  6. Bronwen Douglas

    Since the early 1990s, a rich series of critical studies by historians of science, cultural geographers and cartographic historians has acknowledged the significance of indigenous agency, knowledge and spatialities in records of encounters with Euro-American travellers and colonisers.¹ In the process, imperial science, geography and cartography have been reconfigured as dialogic, if usually unequal processes of knowledge co-production by global and local, metropolitan and colonial, colonising and colonised agents.²

    My own heuristic strategy parallels these approaches but is applied to contexts that are in no sense colonial, set in the first phase of fleeting coastal or seaborne encounters between indigenous...

  7. John Gascoigne

    One of the most characteristic features of European exploration of the Pacific was the extent to which it was linked with the Enlightenment-linked goals of promoting the acquisition of knowledge. This was often closely associated with the quest for imperial advantage or the search for wealth since knowledge brought with it the possibility of finding new sources of wealth. As the extent of trade around the world increased so, too, were habits of mind stimulated which formed a natural parallel with those required to accumulate the systematic bodies of knowledge on which science was based. The keeping of ledgers, the...

  8. Harriet Parsons

    This chapter comes out of an enquiry into the intellectual atmosphere and social dynamics of first contact in the Pacific on Captain Cook’sEndeavourvoyage. The common impression of theEndeavouris of a highly segregated community in which sailors and civilians were separated by class, rank, and in their first encounters with the people of the Pacific, by early concepts of race. In theArt of Captain Cook’s Voyages, Bernard Smith and Rüdiger Joppien represent Cook and Joseph Banks as embarked upon a ‘civilising mission’.¹ The ‘myth model’ formulated by Gananath Obeyesekere in theApotheosis of Captain Cookof...

  9. Antje Lübcke

    The intricacies of encounters between photographers and their subjects need to be examined more closely, especially in the colonial context, as it has too often been taken for granted that the photographer was solely responsible for the resulting image or the only agent in the photographic encounter. The cameras that were used and the associated materials and chemicals needed for photography in the late nineteenth century meant that setting up a shot and developing a photograph were neither simple nor quick tasks. European photographers who travelled to the newly acquired territories of empire relied on local carriers and interpreters to...

  10. Len Collard and Dave Palmer

    Len:Kaya. Yeye. Nidja Ngunnawal boodjar ngulla nyinniny

    Ngulla koort kwoppa koorlinyCanberra 2013.Ngulla wangkiny kura Noongar wam koorliny. NidjaDave.Nyuny kwel Len. Ngulla koorliny birritor Perth.Ngulla karleep Whadjuk Nyungar boodjar.

    Dave: Hullo, we start by acknowledging Ngunnawal as the bosses for country in Canberra. Our hearts were very happy to visit in 2013 and to meet people and talk about Noongar and others going along together in the past. Len and I are from Perth in Western Australia. Noongar country is where our home fires burn.

    We acknowledge that we first presented the ideas for...