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Date(s) - 31/03/2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Social Sciences Room 1 (G28), UWA

UWA Archaeology Seminar Series

Presented by: Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke, Bryce Barker, Kelsey Lowe, Iain Davidson, Noelene Cole and Liz Hatte

The ‘History Wars’ sparked a flurry of research into the nature and extent of Aboriginal-settler frontier violence. While vital, this research has been limited to written records largely excluding Indigenous voices. We argue that in order to attain a more holistic and sophisticated insight into the complexities of the frontier we should approach the debate through an entirely new lens: the material evidence for the Queensland Native Mounted Police (NMP) and their activities—both violent and mundane. Our recently commenced ARC project is undertaking the first broad-scale and systematic archaeological investigation of the NMP, including their activities, living and working conditions, the domestic and hierarchical arrangements in camps, and the oral histories of troopers, officers and conflict held by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. By investigating the material evidence for the range of responses to the presence and activities of the NMP, it explores the nexus between the force and local Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across three key areas (Cape York, Central Qld, NW Qld) in order to examine the evolution of the NMP system, and the unfolding of the frontiers it created across space and time. By comparing and contrasting material culture and memory we can we can better understand frontier conflict, the process of colonialism and its effects, settler society’s relationships with Aboriginal peoples both then and now, and how such complexities provide opportunities for ‘reflection upon the options we have ourselves’ (Lydon 1996:161).

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