A World That Was

Ronald M. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt
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A World That Was

Published

1 June 2018

ISBN

9780522874631

Ebook File Size

20.4MB

Imprint

Miegunyah Press

A World That Was

Ronald M. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt
This extraordinary book, written from material gathered over half a century ago, will almost certainly be the last fine-grained account of traditional Aboriginal life in settled south-eastern Australia. It recreates the world of the Yaraldi group of the Kukabrak or Narrinyeri people of the Lower Murray and Lakes region of South Australia.

In 1939 Albert Karloan, a Yaraldi man, urged a young ethnologist, Ronald Berndt, to set up camp at Murray Bridge and to record the story of his people. Karloan and Pinkie Mack, a Yaraldi woman, possessed through personal experience, not merely through hearsay, an all but complete knowledge of traditional life. They were virtually the last custodians of that knowledge and they felt the burden of their unique situation. This book represents their concerted efforts to pass on the story to future generations.

For Ronald and Catherine Berndt, this was their first fieldwork together in an illustrious joint…
This extraordinary book, written from material gathered over half a century ago, will almost certainly be the last fine-grained account of traditional Aboriginal life in settled south-eastern Australia. It recreates the world of the Yaraldi group of the Kukabrak or Narrinyeri people of the Lower Murray and Lakes region of South Australia.

In 1939 Albert Karloan, a Yaraldi man, urged a young ethnologist, Ronald Berndt, to set up camp at Murray Bridge and to record the story of his people. Karloan and Pinkie Mack, a Yaraldi woman, possessed through personal experience, not merely through hearsay, an all but complete knowledge of traditional life. They were virtually the last custodians of that knowledge and they felt the burden of their unique situation. This book represents their concerted efforts to pass on the story to future generations.

For Ronald and Catherine Berndt, this was their first fieldwork together in an illustrious joint career of almost fifty years. During long periods, principally until 1943, they laboured with pencil and paper to put it all down-a far cry from the recording techniques of today's oral historians. Their fieldnotes were worked into a rough draft of what would become, but not until recently, the finished manuscript.

The book's range is encyclopaedic and engrossing-sometimes dramatic. It encompasses relations between and among individuals and clan groups, land tenure, kinship, the subsistence economy, trade, ceremony, councils, fighting and warfare, rites of passage from conception to death, myths, and beliefs and practices concerning healing and the supernatural. Not least, it is a record of the dramatic changes following European colonization.

A World That Was is a unique contribution to Australia's cultural history. There is simply no comparable body of work, not is there ever likely to be.

Ronald M. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt

Ronald and Catherine Berndt shared a distinguished career of almost fifty years, becoming Australia's most respected anthropologists and interpreters of Aboriginal culture. Ronald Berndt was the foundation Professor of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia, a position he held from 1963 to 1981. Catherine Berndt lectured in the same department throughout this period and has since 1984 been an Honorary Research Fellow in Anthropology. Their many jointly written books include The World of the

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