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Public Outreach and Professional Discipline: Chronicling the Anthropological Society of Western Australia Greg Acciaioli (Anthropology & Sociology, The.

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Presentation on theme: "Public Outreach and Professional Discipline: Chronicling the Anthropological Society of Western Australia Greg Acciaioli (Anthropology & Sociology, The."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Outreach and Professional Discipline: Chronicling the Anthropological Society of Western Australia Greg Acciaioli (Anthropology & Sociology, The University of Western Australia) with contributions from: Edward McDonald (Consulting Anthropologist, Ethnosciences) Chris Griffin (Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University)

2 Anthropological Societies in the Early Institutionalisation of Anthropology  1840s-1890s: Museum Period  Ethnological Associations Period Société Ethnologique de Paris (1839) Ethnological Society of London (1843)  Aborigines Protection Society (1837) Anthropological Society of London (c. 1862) Merger: The Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1870)  vs. Founding of Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology only in 1866 Forerunners in Leiden and St. Petersburg

3 Institutionalisation of Anthropology in Australia (1)  Presentations and discussions in various Royal Societies, esp. branches of Royal Geographical Society  Anthropological Society of Australasia ( ) Journal: Australasian Anthropological Journal (to 1898) Science of Man and the Australian Anthropology Journal (N.S., to 1900) Science of Man: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society of Australasia (to Society’s end)  Semi-popular focus: documentation & recording Ethnology as the proper term to define this focus?

4 Institutionalisation of Anthropology in Australia (2)  Establishment of first academic programs in Anthropology Department of Anthropology at University of Sydney (1925) Board of Anthropological Research at University of Adelaide (1926)  Complementary rise of associations: 1926 Anthropological Society of South Australia (ASSA) 1928 Anthropological Society of New South Wales (ASNSW) 1932 Anthropological Society of Victoria (ASV) 1948 Anthropological Society of Queensland (ASQ) mid 1950s: (abortive?) Anthropological Society in Darwin (exact title?) 1958 Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA)

5 Institutionalisation of Anthropology in Australia (3)  Scope of societies closer to American (4- field) model Social (& Cultural) Anthropology Archaeology Physical Anthropology Linguistics Material Culture Link to museums Applied Anthropology Humanitarian impulses of societies and associations

6 Anthropological Society of New South Wales (ASNSW)  Impetus from the Australian Museum, not Department of Anthropology Parallel British precedent: first professional anthropologists were museum curators  Later a stronger association with Department of Anthropology Venue for meetings after first few

7 Umbrella Organisation: Australian Anthropological Association (1939)  Established by ASSA, ASNSW, ASV  Seen as successor to Royal Anthropological Association of Australasia  Objects: ‘‘to promote through co-operative effort “the science of Anthropology” and “to take public and official action in the interests of Anthropology, as may be deemed desirable.”  Journal: Mankind Published by ASNSW (since 1931), now as organ for AAA  No fixed set of officers Rotate among executive councils of affiliated state societies (later include ASQ, ASWA too) Handover at meetings of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) Meetings of Section F for Anthropology in association with AAA No real activities beyond meetings at ANZAAS?

8 Founding of Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA, 1958)  Follow ASNSW model Slightly after establishment of Anthropology at UWA Initial constitution & by-laws (1959) modelled on those of ASNSW (1945 version)  Poised institutionally in intersection of University, Museum, and Native Welfare Department Interim committee: Dr RM Berndt, Centre for Anthropology UWA Dr WDL Ride, Director of the West Australian Museum Mr FWG Anderson, Deputy Commissioner of Native Welfare Dr Catherine Berndt, Centre for Anthropology UWA Mr VN Serventy (Sec-Treas), West Australian Museum

9 Tension in formulation of Aims  Not first attempt to found such a Society Failure to materialise in AO Neville era  Tension of scientific and humanitarian/administrative impulses Editor of Mankind/Treasurer of ASNSW to RM Berndt: ‘For God’s sake, keep it scientific and discourage crackpot sentimentalists from joining’ Need for disciplining expressions of Anthropology in the state and through the AAA the country as whole E.g. investigating qualifications of Dr. Hossfeld, discoverer of Aitape skull in PNG  Parallel earlier tensions in Ethnological Society of London Humanitarian vs. scientific impulses

10 Scope and Orientation of Inaugural Meeting  Speakers at first meeting Mr FWG Anderson: ASWA as ‘neutral ground’ for interchange of ideas of value to administrators, esp. in Department of Native Affairs Subsequent correspondence: fear of ASWA becoming a ‘pressure group’ Professor Joe Lugg (UWA Department of Biochemistry): Relation of Anthropology & Genetics Dr WDL Ride: role of West Australian Museum in regard to anthropology Dr RM Berndt Maturity of anthropological theory Problems demanding attention Aboriginal adjustment to changing conditions ‘Dangling carrot of assimilation’ ‘Vexed question of citizenship status’ Indonesian claims to West New Guinea, or West Irian Dutch-Australian administrative cooperation and the position of the indigenous New Guinea peoples Greater understanding by Australians of the cultures and societies of Asian peoples Generally Particularly Asian student adjustment in this country Problems of rapid change and technological emphasis in our own society Choice in a large number of situations Tightening of controls in others

11 Differences from early societies  Predominant impetus from Academic Anthropology program Secondary influence from State Museum in WA case Eventual formation of own Museum in academic context  Different constituency Students> layfolk Aim ‘disciplining students’: productive and segregating ‘ASWA started way back when we were undergraduates - when Peter Lawrence was here (1961?), it just emerged from the Department. It was a sort of meeting place for people with an interest in anthrop and sort of forum for talks. It was Uncle Ronnie’s sort of link with the wider community really; only it wasn’t that wide, it was mostly students.’ `ASWA included members of the community; it was an attempt to promote anthropology in the community. Though most of the members were students; Ron was very keen that honours students attended meetings…It was an academic society really; I was quite impressed with it. There were not many members of the public mainly students, almost all the graduate students and staff were members.’

12 Relations with West Australian Anthropology and Sociology Students Association (WAASSA)  ASWA subsidising of WAASSA student journal Ilchinkinja  eidos  Ilchinkinja  WAASSA subsidising of ASWA functions  Representation of postgraduate students in ASWA executive  Realisation of Elkin’s model of proper integration into university activities

13 Developing orientation: ‘Objects’ of the society in the 1959 Constitution  ‘Cribbing’ from ASNSW Constitution  Objects: (a) To promote the study of General Anthropology with special emphasis on the Australian Aborigines. The fields to be included are Social and Cultural Anthropology, Physical Anthropology, Ethnology, Archaeology, Genetics, Linguistics and Semantics. (b) To provide a common medium and meeting place for people interested in these subjects, and facilitate the interchange of ideas. (c) To encourage interest and research in these fields. (d) To act as a body in matters relating to these topics. (e) To encourage teaching and research in Anthropology in the University of Western Australia. (f) To encourage anthropological teaching and research, as well as public interest in the relevant collections within the Western Australian Museum and assist in the collection of objects for that Institution. (g) To take a lively, but informed, interest in matters of native welfare in this State as in Australia generally. (Constitution and By-Laws of the Anthropological Society of Western Australia [undated draft, c. 1959]).  Increasing emphasis in development of society on humanitarian/administrative issues of Indigenous welfare Publicising the need for tightened customs regulations and prohibitions on sale of sacred objects (Co-)sponsorship of art exhibitions: aesthetic appreciation of Aboriginality Publicising survey of Aboriginal unemployment and poverty Eventually, vehicle of influence on drafting of Aboriginal Heritage Act (1972)

14 Role of ASWA in Demise of AAA (1)  Early tension concerning urging of members to pay higher membership fee to include subscription to Mankind Undated circular letter from C.M. Berndt, President (1961-2)  ‘The journal Mankind is the official organ of the combined Anthropological Societies of Australia, of which our own Society is one. It was established in and, along with the journal Oceania has pioneered the publication of anthropological materials. At first it was published only by the New South Wales Anthropological Society, but other State Societies (as they were formed) joined the ‘parent’ body… It is vitally important that members of the different Anthropological Societies should support what may be regarded as their “own” journal.’

15 Role of ASWA in Demise of AAA (2)  Letter of W.D.L. Ride of Western Australian Museum in reply: I appreciate the views which you have expressed about the need for support for the journal MANKIND but I see no reason why we should consider that this should be taken as a Society matter instead of a matter for individuals to have to consider in their support of things anthropological. I say this because MANKIND is not published by the combined anthropological societies of Australia but by the Anthropological Society of New South Wales. While I appreciate that the Anthropological Society of New South Wales requires support for MANKIND, I can see no reason why they should consider it is in any way our journal unless they are prepared to give us a voice in its organization and editorship and, in return, we should be prepared to pay a portion of the running costs. Surely the time has come for us to make a definite stand in this matter.

16 Role of ASWA in Demise of AAA (3)  Letter of RM Berndt to ASNSW Secretary after 44 th ANZAAS Congress (Uni of NSW, 1972) [meeting in which the moves to set up the Australian Anthropological Society to succeed Association of Social Anthropologists discussed]  AAA as a body in name only, with no officers except those elected by constituent societies Mankind published under the auspices of the AAA, but by and for the ASNSW Editorial board and other officials all from the University of Sydney Department of Anthropology No decision making role of ASWA in policies of Mankind

17 Role of ASWA in Demise of AAA (4)  RM Berndt’s demands for re-organisation for AAA to reflect opinions and aims of its constitutent Societies: Executive Board be elected from the office-bearers of the constituent societies for a 2-year period. Such a board must constitute the effective executive committee (Board) of the Anthropological Societies of Australia and be empowered to transact its businesss. Need for strict parity of constituent State societies to transact its business Executive Board with its newly drawn up Constitution to meet at least once within a 2-yr. period Association to take over publication of the journal Mankind so that it may effectively become the official organ of the combined societies Executive Board needs to appoint an editorial committee to manage and publish journal under its own auspices Business of journal and its publication should be rostered among the constituent societies, State-wise along the lines of the present practice of the American Anthropologist

18 Role of ASWA in Demise of AAA (5)  Discussion of overall lack of definition of AAA at its general meeting at 45th ANZAAS (Perth, 1973) Transfer of AAA Council of Management to members of ASWA Passing of resolutions in line with Berndt’s demands by Council of Management in Perth Circular requesting that all societies affiliated to AAA demonstrate constitutional authority for this  Resolution to disband AAA after unsatisfactory meeting at 1975 ANZAAS  Final disbanding at AAA meeting held at 1977 ANZAAS Motion by RH Pearce from ASWA agreed to that ‘since the Australian Anthropological Association has not functioned for several years, the constitution be formally terminated and the books and papers be offered to the National Library, and the the Editor of ‘Mankind’ be informed of this resolution and requested to delete all reference to the Association from the journal. ’

19 ASWA after 25 years  Silver Jubilee (1983) Particularly celebrate applied interventions (e.g. Noonkanbah) Strengthening of orientation to Indigenous issues Transition to ‘pressure group’ status feared by FWG Anderson? Emergence of problems in disciplining professional practice Less emphasis on disciplining students?

20 ASWA Interventions in Noonkanbah  Historical record emphasise RM Berndt’s intervention: ‘That evening Professor Berndt issued a statement that was the lead story in the West Australian on the morning of 2 April. He demanded a halt to drilling on the station, and criticised the Government’s repeated direction of the Museum Trustees. He also called for the appointment of a specialist group to assist Amax in negotiating with the Community, and for a Royal Commission to “look into all matters relating to Aboriginal land rights’. The Western Australian Anthropological Society [sic] supported his call and attacked Grayden and the Government.’ (Hawke and Gallagher, Noonkanbah: Whose Land, Whose Law 1989: 207) Contrast with reticence in specific interventions in past ‘Purveyor of expert advice’ ‘A priestly role’

21 ASWA Interventions in Noonkanbah Motions tabled and passe at prior ASWA Special meeting called on 31 March, That this Society reaffirms its support of the principle of the need to protect Aboriginal sites of significance to living people, and furthermore, reaffirms that the nature of sites should in each instance be determined on the basis of professionally collected and presented anthropological evidence. 2That this Society calls on the Minister for Cultural Affairs and the Trustee of the Western Australia Museum to give effect to the spirit of the Aboriginal heritage Act by asking AMAX Mining Company to cease operations at Noonkanbah and to reopen discussions with the Aboriginal community. 3That in any discussions taking place between the Government, the mining company and the Aboriginal community at Noonkanbah, the professional advice of anthropologists and archaeologists be taken into account. 4That this meeting asks the Executive Committee of the Society to pursue the recommendations made tonight with the Minister for Cultural Affairs as a matter of urgency, and to take such additional steps as may be required. 4(i)That this meeting affirm that information about Aborigines derives in the first place from Aborigines themselves. 4(ii)That this meeting deplore the action of the Government in having ignored the professional advice of anthropologists in their handling of the Noonkanbah issue. 5Motion 4(ii) was put again as a substantive motion of the meeting. 6That the Executive Committee call a further meeting in two weeks time to report on the outcome of their meeting with the Minister. Release of these motions as a press statement Sent to all Indigenous communities in Western Australia and to interested bodies in the rest of Australia

22 ASWA Interventions in Noonkanbah  Deputation to Minister Grayden on 2 May 1980  Discussions on possibility of a tribunal to consider interests of various parties  Formation of an Aboriginal Heritage Subcommittee within ASWA (14 April 1980 Special meeting) Brief to examine all existing and proposed legislation relevant to ownership and protection to Aboriginal land Take note of impending changes to Aboriginal Heritage Act  Motion urging AAS to to approach Trustees of Western Australian Museum and Western Australian Government to urge them to take into account professional advice of anthropologists in matters concerning Aboriginal people  Motion to call for donations to support these activities

23 Tensions between academic and applied orientations: counterorganisations  Formation and death of GRASS (Group Research and Action for the Social Sciences)  Attempts to form Australian Association for Applied Anthropology (AAAA) (53 rd ANZAAS, 1983, Perth)  Counterproposal and Decision (13 September 1982) to establish The Professional Association for Applied Anthropology and Sociology (PAAAS)

24 Subsidising of activities of ASWA  Note cards: intersection of public outreach and political intervention Partnership with UWA Anthropology Research Museum

25 Demise of ASWA? (1)  Reduction of frequency of meetings Original monthly format from 1959 (10/yr) : : : : 0  Declining audiences (levels of engagement) Approx. 50 recorded at initial 1958 meeting Probable peak at time of Noonkanbah meetings Current range of Largely academics from Perth universities’ anthropology programs General erosion of attendance by academics Culture of accountability: Academic criteria of efficiency, exposure and impact ASWA activities not income-generating for universities (i.e. Development) Paucity of students except from campus hosting the meeting Virtual absence of members of general public unless formerly a student in one of these departments

26 Demise of ASWA? (2)  Transitions No longer a forum of engagement with general public Ethnographic exposure in infotainment: 4 Corners, Late Line, Asia Pacific, Message Stick, Foreign Correspondent, Global Village, etc. Rise of reality TV’s virtual exoticism BBC’s ‘Tribe’ and more recent variants in the Netherlands, Australia, etc. Infotainment: Up-to-date information on NGO web sites accessed conveniently at will through the internet Television as the cause of declining rates of civic participation (Robert Putnam on ‘social capital’)  Socialisation of younger generations into ‘image’ culture Plethora of images, Ways of Seeing (Berger, 1972) Image as ‘cool’ vs. written and spoken word Celebrity as source of community, Amusing Ourselves to Death (Postman 1987) Pragmatic/strategic orientation of current university generation? ‘Getting a life’ beyond the bounds of campus Lifelong education as part-time training to be balanced with other activities (jobs, etc) Student life not campus-focussed

27 Demise of ASWA? (3) Exceptions in attendance  Better attendance at social events than ordinary meetings with presentations Fun & Sociation  Retention of professional engagement Indemnity insurance for professional anthropologists Careers night  In many ways professional orientation of ASWA as the most capable of survival

28 Demise of ASWA? (4)  A greater orientation to the professional orientation may not be the salvation for ASWA?  Professionalisation of discipline also subject to centralisation Why have a code of ethics provided for ASWA for practitioners in Western Australia when already a code provided by AAS?  General move from federated structures to centralised structures of association Transition from AAA to AAS in mid-seventies (beg. 1972) An ironic unforeseen consequence of the very actions of state associations such as ASWA

29 Demise of ASWA? (5) Concluding queries on possible bases for the continuing existence of ASWA  Is the sub-national state or regional association an institutions whose time of relevance has passed?  The only regional, non-national associations to belong to the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) Member supra-national regional associations International Union of Anthropological and Ethnologicalo Sciences Association of Social Anthropologists of the U.K. and the Commonwealth European Association of Social Anthropologists Latin American Association of Anthropology Pan-African Anthropological Association Member sub-national regional associations Catalan Institute of Anthropology Catalonia as an autonomous nation within the state of Spain E.g. Paralleling such non-WCAA associations as: Ankulegi (ANtropologia, KULtura Eta GIzartea) Elkartea (Anthropology, Culture and Society of the Basque Region) The Hong Kong Anthropological Society Special Autonomous Region (SAR) status for Hong Kong within China Should we declare an end to ASWA? or Do we need to declare Western Australia an autonomous region so that ASWA may thrive?


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