Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Commodification of Tasmanian Aboriginal People

There was a time in Tasmania when the commodification of Tasmania's Aboriginal people as exotic and other, as curios, went unquestioned. This postcard is a clear demonstration of that but it is not alone. Indeed, there is a class of Tasmaniana that demonstrates this 'trophy of empire' understanding of Aboriginal people.

In the 21st C there are different understandings and sensibilities in operation but it is worthwhile to recognise exemplars of older attitudes and understandings. The antique/vintage shell necklaces typically assumed to have been made by Tasmanian Aboriginal people is a case in point.

There is clear evidence that these necklaces are an expression of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people's cultural reality – past and ongoing. Nevertheless, there was a colonial cultural appropriation of these necklace with colonial 'industrial manufacture' of shell necklaces starting in Hobart just a year before Truganini's death if not sometime before. These necklaces were known as "Hobart Necklaces" and it seems as "Truganini Necklaces" as well – at least euphemistically. Clearly Truganini was the/a 'marketing hook' that lent currency to these industrially produced necklaces ... click here to read more.

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World Citizen, Tasmania, Australia
Simply a collector of things who collects by 11s and who networks with other collectors