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If land was a head: a critique of country

Rolls, M ORCID: 0000-0003-4198-3771 2018 , 'If land was a head: a critique of country' , Zeitschrift für Australienstudien, vol. 32 , 105 - 117 , doi:

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This paper considers specific cultural practices and beliefs and contemplates thewestern rejection of exotica (head-hunting) in one instance, and the exotifying of land(increasingly referred to as country) in the other. The paper will argue that while the precise meaning of head-hunting remains elusive to aliens (even other head-hunters from different cultures), just as the full meaning of land or “country” to Aborigines remains elusive to aliens (including Aborigines from different regions), there are contiguities between Indigenous understandings of heads and Indigenous understandings of country. Contrary to the taking of heads the paper then argues that notions of land and country are readily sentimentalised along the lines of “the earth is my mother”, and that such sentiments contribute to broad support for Aboriginal land rights. Such sentiments also provide a ready means for Aborigines who have never lived on country to nevertheless explain its significance to them. A broad sweep of contemporary interests – concern for the environment for example – intersect with customary beliefs relating to country and are reified in local communities, which in turn influences how specific cultures are understood and which aspects of culture should be conserved.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Rolls, M
Keywords: land, country, Aborigines, head-hunting, settler, belonging
Journal or Publication Title: Zeitschrift für Australienstudien
Publisher: Association for Australian Studies
ISSN: 1617-9900
DOI / ID Number:
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