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An archaeologist in western New South Wales: an Indigenist critique of Frederick McCarthy's rock art research at Mount Grenfell

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posted on 2022-10-06, 02:45 authored by Isaac Roberts

Indigenous peoples across the globe have a deeply contentious relationship with the discipline of archaeology due to colonial notions of perceived European supremacy that position Indigenous people at the periphery of research regarding their own cultures. This thesis explores the relationship between archaeology and colonialism in an Australian context through an examination of Frederick McCarthy’s Cobar Pediplain rock art research. Viewed by many as a pioneer of Australian archaeology, McCarthy’s dedication to preserving and recording Australian Indigenous cultural heritage at a time when Australia’s Indigenous people were excluded from society makes him simultaneously a man of his time and a man ahead of it. Deploying an Indigenist research methodology, this thesis interrogates the Cultural Interface and the characteristic intersections of Western and Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies that drive Indigenous archaeologies. I consider methods and approaches that can be applied to archaeology to, not just decolonise the discipline, but to enact sovereignty through self-determination in the field. The core outcome of this project is an innovative contribution to the discussion around Indigenous sovereignty in rock art research.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter One: Literature Review -- Chapter Two: Method and Methodology -- Chapter Three: Frederick McCarthy, Archaeology, and Colonialism in Australia -- Chapter Four: "The Interpretation in the Personal Opinion of the Author": Frederick McCarthy and Rock Art on the Cobar Pediplain -- Chapter Five: The legacy of Frederick McCarthy: Archaeology and Indigenous Sovereignty in Australia -- Conclusion -- Appendices -- Reference List


A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Research at Macquarie University

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis MRes, Macquarie University, Department of Indigenous Studies, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Indigenous Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Tristan Kennedy

Additional Supervisor 1

Yann Tristant


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




148 pages

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