White man got no dreaming essays

In the fifty years since he completed an honours degree under A.

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Radcliffe-Browne at the University of Sydney, Stanner had transformed academic, official and public opinion about Australian Aboriginal societies. Stanner, born in , first planned a career in economics or politics, and worked full-time as a journalist from to support his studies. In April he left his job as a chief sub-editor to begin fieldwork on the Daly River under the supervision of Raymond Firth. But it was A. His task was a survey of the Warramunga and eight other tribal groups scattered on pastoral properties in central and northern Australia.

He found occupants of the Tennant Creek Aboriginal Reserve resisting official plans to remove them so mining could proceed. They asked Stanner to intervene. His warnings about the effects of economic development on land use and religious life, and his advice on administrative reforms, were not heeded. During this month expedition, which included another season on the Daly River and his first journey to Port Keats, he collected the material for his doctoral thesis on ceremonial economics and economic change among these northern tribes.

A stint as speech-writer to the State Premier had enabled him to save for further study, but at the height of the depression in he had to sell his books to raise the fare to England. His interest in politics led to a temporary post as private secretary to the Australian Treasurer during the Imperial Conference of He was stimulated, too, by attending lectures on economics, sociology and political theory, and by debating the inevitability of war and the future of colonial rule with fellow students.

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In the twentieth century, the government has replaced many of these practical, temporary shelters with European-style homes. Aborigines often protest by ignoring the houses and constructing "humpies" - lean-to's with tin roofs. Religions belief and ritual shape all aboriginal life from ground, cave, and bark painting to healing to the celebration of life events.

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While religion is sex-segregated, both sexes perform major rituals, and men and women alike are respected artists and healers. Aborigines believe that a group of deities created the universe in the dreamtime. This sacred time encompasses the moment of creation and is interwined with the proftane time human beings live in.

Time, space, and the ancestor deities are fused into a constant presence. These powers still rule from the natural sites they now inhabit. Any tree, rock, and body of water that could house a spirit from the dreamtime is sacred. Thus, aborigines are spiritually as well as materially connected to the land and strive to live in harmony with it.

Aboriginal political systems vary across the continent but tend to stress the authority of men who have achieved the status of elders in a community. Traditionally, councils of men made political decisions, but complex kindship systems created checks and balances that tempered the power of the elders and through which women could exercise influence.

Aboriginal life is rooted in the land, and their ideas emphasize rights to territories that are not seen as ownership in any Western legal sense. Thus, European efforts to confiscate their land and settle its inhabitants were catastrophic. In the government tried to rectify some injustices with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, a complicated law entitling aborigines to appeal to a Land Rights Commission for ownership of or access to sacred areas. Unfortunately, negotiations, are fraught with misunderstandings.

Most appeals satisfy neither party. The traditional aboriginal political process is being eroded by the emergence of younger leaders who may not wish to follow the old ways and by the Australian bureaucracy, which is often impatient with aboriginal versions of participatory democracy.

Aboriginal women particularly suffer from the Land Rights Commission's tendency to send only men to investigate claims. The Edge, a glass-walled theatre, hosts regular conversations about the future of the city. Patriots wanting to stop illegal immigrants clash with humanitarians seeking to welcome asylum seekers. Federation Square is managed by a private company, of which the state government is the only shareholder.

White Man Got No Dreaming: Essays, 1938 1973

Almost alone among the Australian capitals cities Sydney, the oldest, has no acknowledged central civic place. It is not as though the idea had never occurred to anyone. By the time the convicts disappeared, the insatiable demand for land and buildings on the crowded peninsula had killed the dream of a public square. When supporters of the Anti-Transportation League protested in Barracks Square off George Street in , the square itself had already been marked for subdivision and sale to private investors.

Hyde Park and the Domain, the traditional sites of political protest, seldom draw crowds anymore.

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The pedestrianisation of streets once given over to commercial activity, like Martin Place, has created new sites for spontaneous rallies and demonstrations, but so far no single place has emerged as the acknowledged ceremonial centre of the city. Sydneysiders now look to the landscape, and especially their glorious harbour, for their sense of belonging. Now the view is rapidly changing.

Recently refurbished, the Palisade is now a trendy destination. The long loading platform of the old Darling Harbour container terminal has gone. So have the retired wharfies, living until recently in nearby flats and houses. The eighty-seven metre Harbour Control Tower is slated for demolition, condemned as an architectural monstrosity and impediment to the realisation of a grander vision: the Barangaroo Reserve, a 5. From the Palisade, you can now observe the glaring contrast between the rocky headland viewed by the first Europeans and the global city rising all around it.

Packer is a city dreamer too. It is the feeling of artificiality, of a confected rather than organic sense of connection to the past, which troubles me about places like Barangaroo. In order to restore the pre-European past, other pasts have had to be erased. It inspires a stronger sense of ecological responsibility to the land. It opens the way to a deeper kind of belonging.

But it cannot altogether replace the grand narratives we have inherited from our European forebears. As Dipesh Chakrabarty notes, faced with the environmental challenges of our time, we need the Enlightenment belief in reason more than ever. Does the Aboriginal sense of belonging, grounded in deep time and an intimate relationship with the land, put all other forms of attachment in the shade?

Or does it deepen our understanding of how we depend on each other and the land? Sometimes I exchange my car for a bicycle and go back to country.

Most of the water we drink still comes from its headwaters. The river and its tributaries shaped the mental map of the first inhabitants, the Wurundjeri, as indelibly as the grid of streets and freeways shapes our own. In tracing its course, I am returning to the source. Downstream, the river flows between freeways and skyscrapers.

But upstream, beyond Burnley, the view abruptly changes.

The steep tree-lined banks now screen the river from offices, factories and apartment towers hiding only metres away. For much of its course, it is a secret river, unseen and ignored by the millions of Melburnians who follow and cross it every day. Here and there, city officials have erected signs to remind passers-by of its hidden past. Near Richmond, I pass an ancient tree carved in pre-European times by the Wurundjeri. Further on, where the river winds under the brow of a lovely hill, I approach the old village of Heidelberg, named in by a settler nostalgic for the famous German university town.

Now, on the spots where the Heidelberg School painters erected their easels, I can compare the vista with replicas of the iconic landscapes of Roberts, Streeton and McCubbin. Banyule, the Gothic homestead erected by the overlander Joseph Hawdon, looks down on a billabong where the Wurundjeri people gathered to fish from time immemorial. My path along the river reveals a hybrid history, both black and white, ancient and modern, secular and religious, rural and urban.

As I cycle, my connection with my city and its country is illuminated, strengthened, deepened, renewed. On other days, I cycle downriver, from the suburbs to the city. At the end of my ride, I pause for coffee and reflection beside Princes Bridge, just under Federation Square. In , my great-great-grandmother Jane Hewett, a widow, and her eight children crossed the river on an earlier Princes Bridge, after walking from their emigrant ship, the Culloden moored at Sandridge.

That crossing is part of my Dreaming, a threshold in the history of my family, as it has been for countless generations of Wurundjeri people. In Federation Square I mingle with the crowds of tourists, visitors and locals, and perhaps catch a glimpse of an ethnic festival or a political demonstration. I seldom meet anyone I know, yet there is something about the spirit of the place that claims me. Here I am a citizen as well as a resident, a member of a community that is sometimes memorably real as well as virtual, visible as well as imaginary.


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