Piecing the History Together: An overview of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition

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May, Sally K
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Neale, Margo
Thomas, Martin
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2011
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Abstract

Friday, 2 February 1945 was a defining day in the life of Charles Mountford. The South Australian ethnographer stood nervously in front of a room packed to capacity with enthusiastic members of the National Geographic Society. They had come to be entertained with stories of the exotic Indigenous people of Australia by the adventurer who had ‘captured’ them in photographs and moving pictures. A handful of people in the audience that day had the power to further Mountford’s ethnological collecting and research ambitions. Members of the National Geographic Society Research Committee approached Mountford and suggested he submit a proposal for a scientific research expedition.1 This suggestion sparked the beginning of a planning process that culminated in a seven-month journey across the Northern Territory of Australia. The story behind the negotiations, preparations and final realisation of this Expedition is important for our understanding of its legacy, and it is clear that politics, propaganda and science became uneasy bedfellows for the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land.

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Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition
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© 2011 ANU E Press. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. It is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the publisher’s website for further information.
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology
Australian history
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May, SK, Piecing the History Together: An overview of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition, Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition, 2011, 9, pp. 171-188
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