ENCOUNTERS with INDIGENEITY Writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Tuesday 11 November, 2014
Writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
In the latest release from Aboriginal Studies Press (ASP) internationally renowned Australian
scholar, Professor Jeremy Beckett, draws together his best writing from the 1970s to the present,
using life stories to vividly open up academic ideas to the wider public.
As anthropology has become more historical, and history more anthropological, Beckett deftly
demonstrates how these two traditions of study can and should come together.
Dr Melinda Hinkson of the Australian National University believes that Jeremy Beckett is ‘one of the
most accomplished and insightful writers on Australian Indigenous matters’ and that he has been a
‘trail-blazer in his academic field in a number of ways’.
Few researchers have cast their net as widely as Beckett, and his main areas of study, far western
NSW and the Torres Strait, are well represented in this book. Beckett’s work in comparing the
relative value of ‘culture’ and ‘history’ in explaining Indigenous diversity in Australia is evident in
Encounters with Indigeneity.
In NSW, he chose not to take on the task of ‘salvage anthropology’, capturing information from
those living a ‘traditional’ life before they were expected to disappear. Instead, his interest has been
in those people whose Aboriginality was not widely recognised, interweaving an intimate
perspective with the wider social and political context, and describing the ways in which such people
found a place for themselves in the world.
In the Torres Strait, Beckett was crucially involved in the series of native title cases leading to the
Mabo decision, with his work influential in the wider field of native title jurisprudence. He has
recently been an expert witness in the ongoing Torres Strait sea rights case.
Professor Tim Rowse notes in his Foreword: ‘The people of whom he writes have retained certain
resources to live their marginality on terms that are not only sustainable but also — as his convivial
descriptions show — shareable with an interested and non-judgmental newcomer.’
Beckett’s writing, as exemplified in Encounters with Indigeneity, enriches our appreciation of
Australian Indigenous people, their lives, and the issues they confront, while allowing us to better
understand the diversity of their identities and experiences.
About the Author
Jeremy Beckett has carried out long-term field research with both Australian Aboriginal people and
Torres Strait Islanders. This work has focussed on Indigenous disadvantage in rural Australia, native
title recognition and autonomy in Torres Strait, and the contextualisation of Indigenous identities in
the postcolonial world. He has made a study of the emerging pan-Indigenous movement, and has
contributed to ethnomusicological research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island groups.
Key Information
Title: Encounters with Indigeneity: Writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Author: Jeremy Beckett
Release: 14 November 2014
RRP: AU$39.95
Subjects: Aboriginal History/Anthropology
ISBN: 9781922059772 (pb) 9781922059727 (PDF ebook) 9781922059796 (ebook: epub)
Media Enquiries: Bryce Gray (AIATSIS) 02 6246 1605 or [email protected]