Memorialising the Past: Is there an 'Aboriginal' Way?

Bronwyn Batten
Paul Batten


There is debate about how the Aboriginal past can and should be memorialised. This paper utilises a series of example memorials to discuss the ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia are choosing to depict – in a physical, public form – Aboriginal perspectives of the past. The paper focuses on the issues of cultural evolution and the adoption of so-called ‘European’ ways of memorialising. It also looks at the role of landscapes and natural materials in memorials to the Aboriginal past and the evolving role of counter- and anti-memorials to commemorate the past. The examples of memorials from around Australia suggest that, above all, we must be open-minded about what constitutes an ‘Aboriginal’ memorial. Ways of memorialising the Aboriginal past can range, for example, from natural to constructed, from created by Indigenous people exclusively to otherwise, and from targeting an exclusively Indigenous audience, a non-Indigenous audience, or both. There is more than one way of memorialising the Aboriginal past.

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