1st Edition

Karrikadjurren Art, Community, and Identity in Western Arnhem Land

By Sally K. May Copyright 2023
    330 Pages 112 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Presenting a story of art and artists in Gunbalanya, western Arnhem Land between the years 2001 and 2005, this book explores the artistic community surrounding the primary place of art creation and sale in the region, Injalak Arts, an art centre established in the remote Aboriginal community of Gunbalanya.

    Using a variety of disciplinary approaches including archaeological analysis and material culture studies, anthropology, historical research, oral histories, and reflexive ethnography, the social context of art creation is explored. May argues that Injalak Arts as a place activates and draws together particular social groupings to form a sense of identity and community. It is the nature of this community, or "Karrikadjurren" in the local dialect, that is the primary focus of this book, with the artworks painted during this period providing unique insights into art, identity, community, and innovation.

    This book will be of most interest to those working in or studying archaeology, material culture studies, museum studies, anthropology, sociology, Aboriginal studies, art history, Australian studies, rock art, and development studies. More specifically, this book will appeal to scholars with an interest in the archaeology or anthropology of art, ethnoarchaeology, and the nature and politics of community archaeology.

    Chapter 1: Community archaeology, interdisciplinarity, and an artistic community; Chapter 2: Contemplating community; Chapter 3: Embodied reflexive ethnography; Chapter 4: Histories of art and community in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli); Chapter 5: Histories of art in the mission era and beyond; Chapter 6: The Australian Art Centre Movement; Chapter 7: Navigating protocols in a new era; Chapter 8: People, place, and community; Chapter 9: A cultural house; Chapter 10: Community and social context; Chapter 11: The life of a Gunbalanya painter; Chapter 12: Injalak’s influence on style and subject matter; Chapter 13: Reflections; Index.


    Dr. Sally K. May is an Associate Professor of archaeology and museum studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on relationships between people, landscapes, material culture and imagery, with inspiration drawn primarily from fieldwork in northern Australia. Sally is the author of "Collecting Cultures: Myth, Politics, and Collaboration in the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition" (Altamira, 2009) and co-author of "The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli mission 1925-1931" (ANU Press, 2020).