Sally K. May

Associate Professor Sally K. May is an ARC Future Fellow with the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide and an adjunct Research Fellow with the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Queensland. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on relationships between people, landscapes, material culture and imagery.

orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2805-023X

Histories of Australian Rock Art Research »

Publication date: 2022
Australia has one of the largest inventories of rock art in the world with pictographs and petroglyphs found almost anywhere that has suitable rock surfaces – in rock shelters and caves, on boulders and rock platforms. First Nations people have been marking these places with figurative imagery, abstract designs, stencils and prints for tens of thousands of years, often engaging with earlier rock markings. The art reflects and expresses changing experiences within landscapes over time, spirituality, history, law and lore, as well as relationships between individuals and groups of people, plants, animals, land and Ancestral Beings that are said to have created the world, including some rock art. Since the late 1700s, people arriving in Australia have been fascinated with the rock art they encountered, with detailed studies commencing in the late 1800s. Through the 1900s an impressive body of research on Australian rock art was undertaken, with dedicated academic study using archaeological methods employed since the late 1940s. Since then, Australian rock art has been researched from various perspectives, including that of Traditional Owners, custodians and other community members. Through the 1900s, there was also growing interest in Australian rock art from researchers across the globe, leading many to visit or migrate to Australia to undertake rock art research. In this volume, the varied histories of Australian rock art research from different parts of the country are explored not only in terms of key researchers, developments and changes over time, but also the crucial role of First Nations people themselves in investigations of this key component of their living heritage.

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The Bible in Buffalo Country »

Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931

Publication date: October 2020
Arriving in the remote Arnhem Land Aboriginal settlement of Oenpelli (Gunbalanya) in 1925, Alf and Mary Dyer aimed to bring Christ to a former buffalo shooting camp and an Aboriginal population many whites considered difficult to control. The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931 represents a snapshot of the tumultuous first six years of the Church Missionary Society’s mission at Oenpelli and the superintendency of Alfred Dyer between 1925 and 1931. Drawing together documentary and photographic sources with local community memory, a story emerges of miscommunication, sickness, constant logistical issues, and an Aboriginal community choosing when and how to engage with the newcomers to their land. This book provides a fascinating and detailed record of the primary sources of the mission, placed alongside the interpretation and insight of local Traditional Owners. Its contents include the historical and archaeological context of the primary source material, the vivid mission reports and correspondence, along with stunning photographs of the mission and relevant maps, and finally the oral history of Esther Manakgu, presenting Aboriginal memory of this complex era. The Bible in Buffalo Country emerged from community desire for access to the source documents of their own history and for their story to be known by the broader Australian public. It is intended for the benefit of communities in western Arnhem Land and is also a rich resource for historians of Aboriginal history (and other scholars in relevant disciplines).

Macassan History and Heritage »

Journeys, Encounters and Influences

Publication date: June 2013
This book presents inter-disciplinary perspectives on the maritime journeys of the Macassan trepangers who sailed in fleets of wooden sailing vessels known as praus from the port city of Makassar in southern Sulawesi to the northern Australian coastline. These voyages date back to at least the 1700s and there is new evidence to suggest that the Macassan praus were visiting northern Australia even earlier. This book examines the Macassan journeys to and from Australia, their encounters with Indigenous communities in the north, as well as the ongoing social and cultural impact of these connections, both in Indonesia and Australia.