At the Centre of it all: Constructing Contact through the Rock Art of Watarrka National Park, Central Australia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract


This paper offers an account of rock art research on contact and challenges some of the basic assumptions underlying previous approaches to contact rock art. It is argued that many Australian rock art studies incorporating contact art offer merely descriptive accounts of introduced objects without exploring the underlying social processes motivating and directing change within the art system. This study outlines a number of interpretations about the nature and patterning of contact rock art within a specific rock art assemblage in Watarrka National Park, central Australia. These conclusions were reached through the adoption of an analytical archaeological approach informed by readings of anthropological and historical data. The results of this analysis indicate that contact rock art does not merely reflect a series of historical events and the imposition of foreign forces, rather it represents a more complex exchange involving losses and gains. They further indicate that the rock art process of contact is a record of change and continuity which served not only to reflect the changes brought by Europeans but also highlights the active role Indigenous people took in responding to these circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-144
Number of pages14
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Volume34
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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