Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art, Professor Joakim Goldhahn is part of an interdisciplinary research project that has been awarded an ARC Special Research Initiatives 2020 grant. The project will investigate historical Aboriginal responses to ‘contact’ with newcomers to their land. It will generate new knowledge using systematic recordings of rock art and bark paintings created during the last 400 years in western Arnhem Land, including an in depth analyses of the 1912-1922 Baldwin Spencer Collection of bark paintings, now at Museums Victoria, and rock art at Awunbarna (Mt Borradaile) in western Arnhem Land, NT. The analysis of these key visual first-hand records of Australia’s history, together with documentation from digital archives and other media, will lead to new ways of understanding Aboriginal history. Drawing on multiple forms of media, the project will examine how Aboriginal people used graphic systems to navigate threats and opportunities in northern Australia, with the main benefit to Australia being a more comprehensive and inclusive written history.

Researchers will work closely with project research partners, Injalak Arts in Gunbalanya and Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari at Awunbarna, western Arnhem Land, NT.  The leader is Dr Sally K. May (Griffith University) and also includes Professor Paul Taçon (Griffith University); Associate Professor Liam Brady (Flinders University); Dr Daryl Wesley (Flinders University); Dr Laura Rademaker (Australian National University); Dr Andrea Jalandoni (Griffith University), and Dr Luke Taylor (Independent/Australian National University).

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