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Cape York Peninsula

Browse our site to discover information about the unique cultural heritage and history of Cape York Peninsula very special region. 

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Funded! The Foodways and Colonialism Project, northern Cape York Peninsula

We're very happy to announce that a funding application to the Australian Research Council's Linkage Projects scheme has been successful! We have included basic information about the grant below, though a more detailed media release will follow.Sugarbag and shellfish:...

Published Paper: War Capitalism and the Expropriation of Country: Spatial Analysis of Indigenous and Settler-Colonial Entanglements in North Eastern Australia, 1864–1939

Global processes associated with the expansion of colonialism and the emergence of capitalist economies after 1500 were often driven by a desire to create new capital via the acquisition of land and resources, with severe implications for Indigenous peoples. These processes were highly variable, and strongly shaped by the local circumstances encountered at the periphery of European networks of commerce and trade. A number of researchers have suggested that a particularly acute phase of violence and landscape expropriation, sometimes referred to as war capitalism or terra nullius colonialism, underpinned the establishment of colonial settlements and new economic enterprises. This paper characterises processes of colonization and the establishment of capitalist industry within a discrete study area in Cape York Peninsula, northeastern Australia. In particular, we aim to examine in an holistic fashion the nature of encounters and interactions between Indigenous custodians and settler-colonists between 1860 and 1939, using a documentary archaeology approach combined with qualitative data analysis methods. We demonstrate that while violence of various forms was a routine aspect of interactions, a holistic approach to analysis of available data enables the development of a more nuanced understanding of the contours and pattern of colonialism and the nature and implications of different forms of violence for Indigenous peoples.

Published Paper: Report on excavation of a shell mound site at Mandjungaar, western Cape York Peninsula

This short report presents results of excavation and analysis of a shell mound deposit at Mandjungaar, near Weipa, Cape York Peninsula. This study was initiated as a cultural heritage management project focused on a shell mound site damaged by unauthorised clearing of access tracks. This study included a small research component to establish a baseline understanding of longer-term use history of the Mandjungaar area at the request of Ndrua’angayth custodians. This included excavation and analysis of a test pit at the site. Results of the study are presented and contextualised in relation to previous research on the Weipa Peninsula in order to expand our understanding of the wider cultural history of the southern Weipa Peninsula. These results provide further support for the assertion that shell mound formation in the Albatross Bay region involved food production activities that were strategically focused on estuarine mud and sandflat ecosystems. In doing so, this dataset provides additional support for the previously proposed niche production model of shell mound formation.

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Published Paper: War Capitalism and the Expropriation of Country: Spatial Analysis of Indigenous and Settler-Colonial Entanglements in North Eastern Australia, 1864–1939

Abstract Global processes associated with the expansion of colonialism and the emergence of capitalist economies after 1500 were often driven by a desire to create new capital via the acquisition of land and resources, with severe implications for Indigenous peoples....

Published Paper: Report on excavation of a shell mound site at Mandjungaar, western Cape York Peninsula

Abstract This short report presents results of excavation and analysis of a shell mound deposit at Mandjungaar, near Weipa, Cape York Peninsula. This study was initiated as a cultural heritage management project focused on a shell mound site damaged by unauthorised...

Published Paper: ‘My Country is like my Mother…’: respect, care, interaction and closeness as principles for undertaking cultural heritage assessments

Abstract Investigation of social values is essential to understanding relationships between people and place, particularly in Indigenous cultural heritage management. The value of long-term ethnographic studies is well recognised, however, such approaches are...

Published Paper: “Their God is their belly”: Moravian missionaries at the Weipa Mission (1898–1932), Cape York Peninsula

Abstract The Weipa Mission (1898–1932) on Cape York Peninsula (north-eastern Australia) was one of seven Australian missions designed and staffed by the Moravian Church during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We present findings of archaeological and...