Putting Herbert Basedow back in focus: the 1928 expedition to Arnhem Land

http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&se=gglsc&d=5008437895 Australian Aboriginal Studies 2004.


by Murray Garde , Apolline Kohen-Raimondo. Abstract: In 1928 ethnographer and geologist Herbert Basedow undertook a privately funded expedition through western Arnhem Land. The photographs he took on that trip constitute some of the first photographic images of western Arnhem Land rock-art. In addition to his photographs, Basedow kept a field journal that reveals a relatively enlightened attitude towards Aboriginal art, considering the views commonly held by Europeans about Aboriginal peoples during this era. The rock-art sites Basedow recorded in 1928 remain sites of significance to the Kuninjku site custodians who have their own contemporary interpretations of the paintings photographed by Basedow some 75 years ago. Comparisons are presented between Basedow's 1928 documentation and the contemporary Kuninjku view of these sites. Amateur ethnologist Herbert Basedow undertook his last expedition in 1928. This was a privately sponsored journey through western and central Arnhem Land. He started a career in 'exploration' in 1903 as a trained geologist. His interest in Aboriginal peoples commenced with his first trip to Central Australia, and he published his first notes about them in 1904. Between 1907 and 1910 Basedow studied medicine in Germany but, not forgetting his first encounters with Aborigines, he also studied anthropology while in Breslau as a student of the German ethnographer, Klaatsch. Family history records detail Klaatsch advising Basedow to undertake fieldwork in Australia because it was considered at the time, in Klaatsch's terms, 'the finest field in the world for study of primitive man' (Basedow 1990:114). In this article, we examine Basedow's contribution to some of the earliest…

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