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Date(s) - 12/05/2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Social Sciences Room 1 (G28), UWA

UWA Archaeology Seminar Series

Presented by Benjamin Smith

South Africa is unique in the contemporary world in that it uses indigenous rock art images in its major national symbols. For example rock art appears at the heart of the national coat-of-arms and on all banknotes. One can judge whether a banknote is genuine by folding it and seeing whether the rock art lines up to create a coherent rock art panel. And, one can spend these banknotes at a motorway service station on a take-away burger that comes in a rock art themed carton with rock art themed condiments. Or, one can get directions to a South African casino toilet by following rock art themed signage. One can also go to one of many tourist markets and find artists of European descent making a living out of selling artistic reproductions of South African rock art in the form of watercolours, jewellery, tea towels, T-shirts, candles, painted stones etc. Some of these uses of rock art are empowering, appropriate and sensitive; others are crass, unethical and overtly racist. This paper explores the use of rock art in South Africa within its historical context since 1900.

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