Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission by Jane Lydon (AltaMira 2009).
From their earliest encounters, white settlers evaluated Australian Aboriginal people on the basis of their material culture. This book shows how colonial practices of controlling and transforming Indigenous people centred upon material goods and practices, and especially their domestic environment. In this view objects are equated with identity, an essentializing approach that still persists within archaeological analysis. Through the example of Ebenezer Mission in south-eastern Australia, this study explores the complex role of material culture and spatial politics in shaping colonial identities.
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“Lydon’s Fantastic Dreaming represents an important contribution to our understanding of the complexities of cross-cultural exchange in Australian history. Focused on the mission site of Ebenezer in Victoria, Lydon skillfully weaves a story of transformation and persistence that is grounded in a deep engagement with the place, its people, and material culture recovered through survey and excavation. Significantly, Lydon’s story acknowledges the importance of Ebenezer to those whose lives it has touched in so many ways, and it provides an exemplar of how researchers and indigenous people can together create compelling history.”-Timothy Murray, La Trobe University
“This book adds another layer to our increasing understanding of the nuances and subtleties of culture contact and colonialism in all its guises. Lydon provides an account of mission society that is rich in detail and profound in sensitivity. Archaeologists would be wise to emulate her. She sets a high standard for historical archaeology.”-Charles E. Orser, Jr., New York State Museum
This book will be launched on Saturday 12th December at the Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference at Flinders University, South Australia.