Research Engagement and ImpactNew chapter of Indigenous history told through food
As recently announced, the Australian Research Council (ARC) successful 2017 Linkage grants included $301,254 for Dr Michael Morrison and Dr Darlene McNaughton's project, Indigenous foodways in colonial Cape York Peninsula. The project will address an important gap in Australia’s history by reinstating Indigenous perspectives of colonisation through tracing the role of Indigenous food, labour and knowledge in cultural exchanges between Indigenous people and settler-colonists.
Knowing what people ate, how they obtained and shared food, and the factors that shaped and constrained this process provides unparalleled insights into daily life at this time in Australia’s past. "Food was a key medium for communication and negotiation during colonisation in north Queensland," said Michael.
"The Homelands of the northern Peninsula were a microcosm of wider colonial processes in Australia before the Second World War, and included large Aboriginal reserves, Christian missions, cattle stations, goldfields and the iconic Overland Telegraph Line. However, there are many inaccurate and negative portrayals of Indigenous people in modern accounts of Cape York - our project partners in the communities around Weipa, Coen and Lockhart River are keen to see this remedied," Michael continued.
The project team are Dr Michael Morrison, Dr Darlene McNaughton, Mr David Claudie (Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation), Associate Professor Heather Burke, Associate Professor Shawn Ross (Macquarie University), Dr Ian Moffat, Dr Adela Sobotkova (Macquarie University), and Dr Brit Asmussen (Queensland Museum).
This project aims to trace historical Indigenous foodways in colonial Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, through a program of collaborative community-based archaeological and anthropological research. Mr David Claudie, Kuuku I’yu Custodian and Director of the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, said "This project is unique in that the Traditional custodians involved are working in real partnership with western scientists. We are equal participants in the research, leading the research; we are not just the subjects of anthropological and archaeological inquiry as we so often have been in the past."
The partner organisations involved in the project with Flinders are the Trustee for the Western Cape Communities Trust, Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council, and the Queensland Museum.
Mr Geoffrey Fahey, Executive Officer of the Western Cape Communities Trust, said that "Traditional Owners and Directors of the Trust consider that projects such as this are vital for the preservation of Aboriginal Culture on the Western Cape."
In partnership with local Custodians, the Flinders-led research team will record oral histories, analyse historical records, and look for archaeological evidence of Aboriginal people in the landscape in order to develop new perspectives on both local and global history.
"We will be piecing together a very different story about food and ‘foodways’ by using a wider range of evidence," said Darlene. "That’s the real power of this project – drawing from oral history, anthropology and archaeology to reveal a new narrative of colonial life in the early twentieth century."
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