University Of Tasmania
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The making of 'Our Place': settler Australians, cultural appropriation, and the quest for home

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posted on 2023-05-26, 11:18 authored by Rolls, M
In early 1997 two instances of non-Aboriginal Australians covertly adopting an Aboriginal persona attracted much comment in the press, and on radio and television. It emerged that Wanda Koolmatrie, an Aboriginal woman who had been taken from her mother as a child and had authored the 1995 award-winning autobiography My Own Sweet Time, was in fact Leon Carmen, a forty-seven-year old white male taxi driver from Sydney's North Shore. At the same time it was learnt that the eighty-one-year-old illustrator and artist Elizabeth Durack, who had spent many of her young adult years in close contact with Aboriginal employees on her family's extensive pastoral interests in the Kimberley, was painting and marketing artwork under the assumed identity of Eddie Burrup, a fictitious Aboriginal man. In an attempt to authenticate his existence Durack had even prepared a biography that accompanied the paintings. It included quotes " in Aboriginal-English allegedly taken from tapes of Burrup speaking. The interest in these two instances of appropriation and Aboriginal condemnation of them was not surprising. Significantly however these obvious and readily understood examples of non-material cultural appropriation are but two manifestations of a widespread practice."


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