The historiography of kardimarkara: Reading a desert tradition as cultural memory of the remote past

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The idea that the kardimarkara tradition in the Lake Eyre region is a distant cultural memory of the remote past, of a time when the desert once teemed with life, was propelled into the public domain by JW Gregory in his 1906 book, The Dead Heart of Australia. This paper examines the historiography of the kardimarkara narratives, arguing that such use of Indigenous tradition needs to be subject to the same canons of scholarship and critical analysis as other historical records. The reading of kardimarkara as cultural memory is a misunderstanding of a typical ‘Dreaming’ narrative, in which kardimarkara represents the rainbow serpent, and where contemporary observations of fossil bones are used to validate this landesque ideology. This paper proposes a general framework for scrutinising and evaluating the historicity of oral tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-66
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Keywords

  • aboriginal history
  • cultural memory
  • deep time
  • Lake Eyre basin
  • Oral tradition

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