What the eye can hear


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This paper draws on studies of encounters with remote Indigenous Australian cultures by scholars such as Barry Hill and Martin Thomas. I also refer to my own studies of the transactions between Indigenous and invasive cultures around Sydney, 1788_1791. Again and again in Europeans’ first-contact accounts of Indigenous cultures, there is a sense that Indigenous knowledge is arranged in people and in space and time in ways that are completely at odds with Western presumptions about cognition and interpretation. There is a sense that awareness is a multi-modal experience and that there is no point in separating the senses that Western commonsense tends to distinguish and hierarchise. While I do not purport to explain Indigenous thought here, I do want to dwell on the enigmas that arise in accounts of the encounters between the indigenous and incursive mentalities. What fundamental questions do the records of these encounters pose for Western assumptions about the operations of sense and the separated senses?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-151
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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