‘We want men whose hearts are… full of zeal.’ An investigation of cross-cultural engagement within the Weipa mission station (1898–1932)
01st June 2012
When D.H. Snow first highlighted the archaeological potential of missions in North America he suggested that historical archaeologists should be concerned with the ‘adjustment of the missionary to his new field of endeavour’ and consider the impact of cross-cultural engagement upon the missionaries themselves as well as Native American culture (Snow 1967:57).In Australia, missions have been recognised as places of archaeological importance since Birmingham’s (1992) seminal work at Wybalenna in 1969, however it has only been during recent years that they have been considered as suggested by Snow. The last decade has seen archaeologists begin to consider the impact of cross-cultural engagement upon the aims and approach of the missionaries themselves (e.g. Dalley and Memmott 2010; Lydon 2009; Morrison et al. 2010).
Utilising multiples lines of evidence this thesis investigates the nature of missionary and Aboriginal cross-cultural engagement within the context of the Weipa mission station (1898–1932). Placing particular emphasis on the missionary experience of this relationship, this thesis asks whether the aims and approach of the missionaries themselves changed as a result of their interaction with the Indigenous peoples of this region. The physical layout of the mission itself is analysed as a physical manifestation of the aims and priorities of the missionaries operating at Weipa. This part of the investigation also seeks to determine whether structures and space were used to control and restrict the movement of Indigenous residents in the manner of a total institution as suggested by Sutton (2003).
The thesis demonstrates that the missionaries operating at Weipa did indeed begin to alter their own missionising ideals in the course of their engagement with the Indigenous peoples of this region, accommodating and even incorporating Indigenous practices and resources within the daily operations of the mission. Furthermore, rather than operating as a total institution, the mission appears to have been concerned primarily with segregating the Indigenous peoples of this region from the undesirable elements of white settlement while allowing them to periodically re-engage with their traditional regional networks.
References Birmingham, J. 1992 Wybalenna: The Archaeology of Cultural Accommodation in Nineteenth Century Tasmania. Sydney: The Australian Society for Historical Archaeology. Dalley, C. and P. Memmott 2010 Domains of the intercultural: Understanding Aboriginal and missionary engagement at the Mornington Island Mission, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, from 1914–1942. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:112–135. Lydon, J. 2009 Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission. Lanham: Alta Mira. Morrison, M., D. McNaughton and J. Shiner 2010 Mission-based Indigenous production at the Weipa Presbyterian Mission, western Cape York Peninsula (1932–66). International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:86–111. Snow, D.H. 1967 Archaeology and nineteenth century missions. Historical Archaeology 1:57–59. Sutton, M.J. 2003 Re-examining total institutions: A case study from Queensland. Archaeology in Oceania 38:78–88.Claire Keating
‘We want men whose hearts are... full of zeal.’ An investigation of cross-cultural engagement within the Weipa mission station (1898–1932)
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