Painting the police: Aboriginal visual culture and identity in colonial Cape York Peninsula

Cole, Noelene (2010) Painting the police: Aboriginal visual culture and identity in colonial Cape York Peninsula. Australian Archaeology, 71. pp. 17-28.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Aboriginal rock paintings of policemen near Laura and their 'ethnographic interpretation' were reported by Percy Trezise (1985:74, 1993) but are otherwise unstudied. This research integrates formal analysis of an assemblage of police and associated depictions with cultural, historical and archaeological evidence to shed light on Indigenous society and identity in the frontier period (c.1873-1890s). In drawing on Aboriginal testimony the study connects with local webs of meaning. Stylistic analysis reveals the police motif as an innovative, specialised category within Quinkan style. Signs of cognitive structure include visual, material and contextual attributes (e.g. shape, colour and form, paint recipes, graphic associations, positions and locations). Stylistic coherence suggests that radically new contexts of production (war, social and demographic transformations) did not disrupt the ancestral knowledge systems and unique worldviews which lie at the heart of visual culture at Laura. Unlike most colonial texts, the depictions record Indigenous identity in the contexts of local agency and colonialism.

Item ID: 31909
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0312-2417
Keywords: rock art; Aboriginal; Laura
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2014 02:56
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 6
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page