Peter Sutton

Peter Sutton is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum. He is an author, anthropologist and linguist who has lived and worked with Australian Aboriginal people since 1969. He is a specialist in native title anthropology, Cape York languages and Aboriginal art. He has been an author or editor of 16 books, the most recent being The Politics of Suffering (2009), Iridescence (2015, with Michael Snow) and Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate (2021, with Keryn Walshe). He played various roles as an anthropological researcher 1979–2021 in 87 Aboriginal land claims.

Linguistic Organisation and Native Title »

The Wik Case, Australia

Publication date: 2021
Classical Aboriginal societies in Australia have commonly been described in terms of social organisation and local organisation. This book presents rich detail on a third and related domain that has not been given the same kind of attention: linguistic organisation. Basing their analyses on fieldwork among the Wik peoples of Cape York Peninsula, north Australia, Peter Sutton and Ken Hale show how cosmology, linguistic variation, language prehistory, clan totemic identities, geopolitics, land use and land ownership created a vibrant linguistic organisation in a classical Aboriginal society. This has been a society long in love with language and languages. Its people have richly imbued the domain of rights and interests in country—the foundations of their native title as recognised in Australian law—with rights and interests in the abundance of languages and dialects given to them at the start of the world.

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