Charlotte Feakins Wins at AAA2020 Conference

Congratulations to GML Senior Consultant, Dr Charlotte Feakins who is the winner of the Australian Archaeological Association Conference 2020 Best Student Paper prize.

The paper is titled “The Ethics of Visibility in Kakadu National Park: Tourism, Archaeology and Colonial Debris” and was co-authored with Prof Tracy Ireland of University of Canberra.

In awarding the prize, the Awards subcommittee stated that they were, ‘impressed with the number of high-quality student papers and posters at this year’s virtual conference, but all agreed that yours was particularly outstanding’.

Abstract

In Australia the intertwined practices of historical archaeology and heritage conservation are often conceptualized as methods that provide access to invisible, forgotten or suppressed pasts. Drawing on Feakins’ recent research on the buffalo hide industry in the Northern Territory, we explore how tourism, archaeology and heritage conservation have made particular pasts visible, creating cultural and economic values, and imprinting particular memories and narratives. Although there has been an abundance of historical research, assessments and management plans related to Kakadu National Park, there are currently no historical heritage sites of the recent past that are promoted to the public, let alone any that exclusively represent the buffalo shooting industry. While one historic site within the Park, Munmalary Homestead, was declared a heritage place under the Northern Territory Heritage Act 2011 and is listed on the Northern Territory Heritage Register, this homestead belonged to a European man involved in the buffalo meat industry in the 1960s. With this site, current heritage management in Kakadu National perpetuates an illusion that Aboriginal people are embedded in the deep past and peripheral to the historical past and the present. These places and processes are thus examples of what Ann Laura Stoler terms ‘imperial debris’—locations where we can examine the ‘political life of imperial debris, the longevity of structures of dominance, and the uneven pace with which people can extricate themselves from the colonial order of things’ (Stoler 2008:193).