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Woven Histories

Torres Strait Islander identity, culture and history

Woven Histories by Richard Davis
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Woven Histories, Dancing Lives is a collection of essays that communicates the unique histories and cultures of Torres Strait Islanders to a broad audience. Not only have Islanders absorbed the cultural influences from two surrounding landmasses (Australia and Papua New Guinea), and negotiated the development of two nations in the region, their lives have been transformed by 150 years of immigration and new economic and political conditions. In this collection readers will discover the remarkable cultural diversity that has emerged.

The contributors offer new reflections on inter-ethnic relationships, identity concerns, gender relations and political struggles of Islanders. As a scholarly resource, this collection is empirically rich and theoretically innovative. As a creative endeavour, it embraces Islander and non-Islander visions of society and history. As a critical challenge, it contains insights on fundamental issues regarding the place of Indigenous people in an Australia still uncertain of its relationship to, and recognition of, its Indigenous people.

Book review

‘…these essays, covering a range of topics and emanating from a variety of disciplinary traditions, fit together nicely to make an interesting, accessible and well-woven whole, that has a lot of useful things to say about Torres Strait…The collection is a valuable addition to our understanding of the issues that are shaping contemporary Torres Strait society.’

The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 2005

Aboriginal Studies Press; May 2004
333 pages; ISBN 9780855755171
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Title: Woven Histories
Author: Richard Davis


Preface and acknowledgements
Map of the Torres Strait region and communities

Part 1: Introductions
Writing about Islanders: recent research and future directions
Jeremy Beckett<
Torres Strait: the region and its people
David Lawrence and Helen Reeves Lawrence
Culture connections
Ephraim Bani
Evidence of cultural custodianship
Ephraim Bani

Part 2: Identity, performance and kastom
The spirit of the image (journeys)
Richard Davis
‘The great traffic in tunes’: agents of religious and musical change in eastern Torres Strait
Helen Reeves Lawrence
‘Living in the Light’ and Island dance: morality and temporality in Warraber Christianities
Julie Lahn
‘Embryonic science’: the 1888 Torres Strait photographic collection of A.C. Haddon
Jude Philp
Language diversity, pan-Islander identity and ‘national’ identity in Torres Strait
Anna Shnukal
Cairns and Cambridge: an Australian anthropologist’s view of the Cambridge Expedition’s centenary
Maureen Fuary
Cooking, walking, and talking cosmology: an Islander woman’s perspective of religion
McRose Elu
What is a totem?
Ephraim Bani

Part 3: Space, region and politics
Commonsense, colonialism and government
Martin Nakata
Turning secession into self-governance in the Torres Strait
Sandra J. Kehoe-Forutan
Shared space: Papuan perspectives of the Torres Strait
David Lawrence
Bridge or barrier: the Torres Strait borderland
W.S. Arthur
Schooling and the negotiation of culture on Saibai
Jenny Martin Davis
Ephraim Bani

Part 4: Time and resources
Archaeology of the Murray Islands, eastern Torres Strait: implications for a regional prehistory
Melissa Carter, Peter Veth, Anthony Barham, Doug Bird, Sue O’Connor and Rebecca Bliege-Bird
‘Our feet are on the land, but our hands are in the sea’: knowing and caring for marine Territory at Erub, Torres Strait
Colin H. Scott
Hunter skills: the dugong, the hunter and the talking sea grass
Ephraim Bani

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