A lesson in time: Yanyuwa ontologies, rock art and meaning in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia

John Bradley, Amanda Kearney, Liam Brady

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores the complex and challenging relationship between archaeology, rock art studies and ethnography. It examines how particular sites that may be deemed archaeological, because they contain rock art, are still part of the ethnographic present in regards to what continues to be known about them by Indigenous people. In this paper, we present a case study of rock art from Yanyuwa Country in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. This is a context in which a Dreaming and kincentric ontology determines the presence and nature of imagery, and shapes this imagery as an element of Country which carries its own agentic will. In this instance, the imagery is not rock art, but something altogether more richly configured through a relational ontology that stretches through time, past, present and future. The Yanyuwa example presses us to consider how our research of “rock art” can be lead through ethnographic understandings, rather than seeking ethnographic insights to support already constituted disciplinary understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOntologies of Rock Art
Subtitle of host publicationImages, Relational Approaches and Indigenous knowledge
EditorsOscar Moro Abadia , Martin Porr
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter5
Pages117-134
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429321863
ISBN (Print)9780367337803
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • rock art
  • ethnography
  • Australian archaeology
  • relational ontology

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