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People and Change in Indigenous Australia$
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Diane Austin-Broos and Francesca Merlan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824867966

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824867966.001.0001

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Bold Women of the Warlpiri Diaspora Who Went Too Far

Bold Women of the Warlpiri Diaspora Who Went Too Far

(p.29) Chapter 1 Bold Women of the Warlpiri Diaspora Who Went Too Far
People and Change in Indigenous Australia

Paul Burke

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter attempts to move beyond traditionalist notions of the Australian Aboriginal person. It accepts that personhood is porous and likely to change as general social conditions change. It explores this idea through mini-biographies of four Warlpiri matriarchs who have moved to diaspora locations and deliberately placed themselves at some distance from the social norms operating in their remote homeland settlements. Accounts of traditional Aboriginal personhood emphasised the spiritually emplaced and socially embedded person. In contrast, the lives of the four Warlpiri matriarchs demonstrate the extension of social networks beyond kin, pursuit of their own projects and the rejection of some aspects of traditional law that constrained them. The vectors of these changes include Western education, religious conversion and escape from traditional marriage.

Keywords:   matriarch, Warlpiri, diaspora, boldness, porous self

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