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Collecting Australia at the Smithsonian: 150 years and still going

Dr Adrienne L Kaeppler, National Museum of Natural History, United States

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 18 November 2009

Adrienne Kaeppler, Curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, provides an overview of the museum’s Australian collections, focusing on the Arnhem Land collection which comprises more than 400 artefacts.

collection, indigenous

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Hidden for 60 years: The motion picture films of the American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land

Josh Harris (paper read by Mark Jenkins)

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 18 November 2009

Josh Harris describes the rediscovery in the archives of The National Geographic Society of 12,000 feet of film shot by Howell Walker during the 1948 Expedition and the in-depth steps that were taken to preserve and bring the footage back to life.

collection, indigenous, media

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A history of the 1948 expedition

Dr Sally K May, Australian National University

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Sally K May provides a historical overview of the Expedition, its planning and execution.

collection, indigenous, politics

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The Smithsonian’s participation in the Arnhem Land Expedition

Paul Taylor (paper read by Martin Thomas)

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Paul Taylor offers some historical context for the Smithsonian Institution’s participation in the Expedition, especially in light of prior Smithsonian partnerships, involvements, and sponsorships of domestic and international scientific expeditions.

indigenous

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Fossicking memories

Emeritus Professor Raymond Louis Specht and Martin Thomas, University of Sydney

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Expedition botanist Raymond Louis Specht is interviewed by Martin Thomas.

collection, indigenous, science

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‘A Robinson Crusoe in Arnhem Land …’: Howell Walker, National Geographic, and the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition

Mark Jenkins, writer, editor and historian

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Mark Jenkins explores the role played by the Expedition’s primary American sponsor – National Geographic – and its intrepid representative, Howell Walker.

exploration, indigenous, photography, place, science

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Unpacking the testimony of Gerald Blitner: An Indigenous perspective on the Arnhem Land Expedition

Martin Thomas, University of Sydney

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Gerald Blitner served as a guide and translator for the Expedition. Here, Martin Thomas explores his oral testimony alongside archival evidence, including observations recorded by the Expedition party, to unpack their intercultural exchanges.

indigenous, media, science

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Inside Mountford’s tent: paint, politics and paperwork

Dr Philip Jones, South Australian Museum

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Charles Mountford lacked formal credentials as an anthropologist or scientist, yet he led the largest and most complex scientific expedition to remote Australia. Dr Philip Jones explores Mountford’s contribution and the controversy around his leadership.

art, collection, indigenous, politics, science

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‘Bastard barks’: A gift from the 1948 Arnhem Land expedition

Adjunct Professor Margo Neale, National Museum of Australia

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Margo Neale explores Charles Mountford’s collection of works on paper, locating them as a useful starting point for reassessing Mountford’s reputation as a collector of Aboriginal art and stories.

art, indigenous

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Locating the expedition politically: 1948 American–Australian Relations

Professor the Hon Kim Beazley AC

Barks, Birds and Billabongs symposium, 17 November 2009

Kim Beazley situates the 1948 Expedition in the context of postwar international relations.

conflict, indigenous, politics

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