Arguments about Aborigines: Australia and the Evolution of Social Anthropology

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In the debates which followed the publication of Darwin's book on the origin of species, Australian Aborigines were used as the ideal exemplars of early human forms by European scholars bent on discovering the origins of social institutions. The Aborigines have consequently featured as the crucial case-study for generations of social theorists, including Tylor, Frazer, Durkheim and Freud. Arguments about Aborigines reviews a range of controversies such as family life, religion and ritual, and land rights, which marked the formative period of British social anthropology. Professor Hiatt also examines how changes in Aboriginal practices have affected scholarly debate. This elegant 1996 book will provide a valuable introduction to aboriginal ethnography for students, scholars and the general reader. It is also a shrewd and stimulating history of the great debates of anthropology, seen through the prism of Aboriginal studies.