AustKin: What is it about?
Tracing change in family and social organization in Indigenous Australia, using evidence from language.
Indigenous society has been founded on kinship systems quite different from those of the Europeans and on social categories unique to Australia, like sections and subsections, binding distant people together in family-like relationships. The project will reconstruct Australian indigenous social organization over the last several millennia using comparative linguistics and anthropology. It builds on an ethnographic sample across Australia, together with a large database of family and social vocabulary from Indigenous languages, which will be automated to provide rapid data entry, analysis and mapping. It will show how these social systems have changed, and the impact on indigenous people’s lives.
This project provides new approaches to knowing the ancient heritage of Australia and its first people through the distinctive ways in which they managed and talked about their family and social relationships. These relationships are the key to how they have survived, winning a livelihood from a difficult environment. The project has practical application in Native Title and land management, and in understanding the changes in Indigenous family structures which impact on their health and well-being. For the mainstream population too, confronted by influences destabilising the family, this study will also help us understand how and why family organization changes.
Last modified by: Laurent Dousset