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Are you that special person who - weary from trudging the endless superhighways - just longs to camp next to a glorious oasis of the mind? Do you desire to explore new frontiers, splash in shared ideas, fill your belly with the refreshing fruits of inspiration, and bask in the gentle rays of fond reflection?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The First Australians: Part II

John Butler of the John Butler Trio continues his commentary of The First Australians.

As promised, I have been watching SBS's documentary about Aboriginal Australia, The First Australians.

Six years in the making, the documentary is a worthy project, pictorially pleasing to watch and informative - but has some gaping flaws.
For one thing, the entire subject of Aboriginal history before European contact has been all but ignored. Why would this be? My guess is that there is no political advantage in it. Had it been discussed, the uncomfortable question of violence and treatment of women in pre-contact societies may have needed to be raised. Wouldn't it have been good to discuss the discovery of Mungo man? Wouldn't it have been worthwhile to discuss life with some Aborigines who still live very traditional lives?

Having all but ignored 39,800 years of Aboriginal history, the documentary further ignores contact with the Dutch, and even the first encounters with Lieutenant Cook. Furthermore, the first episode ignored the well documented women-bashing tendencies of Bennelong - as fine an example of 'if you don't learn from history, you are destined to repeat it' as you will ever stumble upon.

The second episode about Tasmania captured the tragedy of the demise of full-blooded Aborigines, but once again nearly suffocated under its own dogma, this time quoting two or three historians who have been fully discredited by Keith Windschuttle. His book, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History is a must read for scholars of Australian history and Australian historians.

My good friend, Margo's Maid tells me that she will be doing her best to promote the work over at the SBS website. You go girl!

As an aside, hilariously, one commenter at the SBS site (no link available) has expressed outrage at the use of the term "Eskimo" in the documentary shown on our multicultural broadcaster. "Eskimo" is a highly offensive term to Canadians. One might have thought that the Series Superviser, Professor Marcia Langton, who claims to have worked for First Nation rights in Canada might have known better.


Anonymous said...

The programme is a steaming crock of shite. Im just re-reading Windys book now, and its shocking to see serial fabricators still allowed to spread outrigh lies.


Margo's Maid said...

Frollicker - they will just be loving their freedom to say pretty much anything without footnotes.

blogstrop said...

Fran's TV show about The Howard Years will start soon too. It will have the Costello book as a counterpoint.