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