Ceremony Men


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"Ceremony Men is an account of one scholar's attempt to return an anthropological collection to Aboriginal communities in remote central Australia. In revealing his process, Jason M. Gibson highlights the importance of personal rapport and collaborations in ethnographic exchange, both past and present, and demonstrates the ongoing importance of sociality, relationship, and orality when Indigenous peoples encounter museum collections today. Combining forensic historical analysis with contemporary ethnographic research, this book challenges the notion that anthropological archives will necessarily become authoritative or dominant statements on a people's cultural identity. Instead, Indigenous peoples will often interrogate and re-contextualise this material with great dexterity as they work to re-integrate the documented into their present-day social lives. By analyzing one of the world's greatest collections of Indigenous song, myth and ceremony-the collections of linguist/anthropologist T.G.H. Strehlow-Ceremony Men demonstrates how inextricably intertwined ethnographic collections can become in complex historical and social relations. By theorizing the nature of the documenter-documented relationships this book makes an important contribution to the at times simplistic post-colonial generalizations that dominate analyses of colonial interaction. A story of local agency is uncovered that enriches our understanding of the human engagements that took (and continue to take) place within varying colonial relations of Australia"--

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