Dancing With Strangers
Europeans and Australians at First Contact
Sobre o livro
Inga Clendinnen's new book traces the history of contact between Aboriginal Australians and British colonisers from 1788-1800. Clendinnen has used a number of primary sources for her book, mainly journals kept by the British. By comparing different versions of the same events, she has - as far as is possible - excavated the facts of what actually happened from the subjective accounts they are embedded in. She has then applied the available anthropological knowledge about the Indigenous people of Sydney to interpret events and relationships through their Aboriginal cultural context.
We meet a fascinating group of people, both British and Aboriginal, and learn about how they coped with their newfound situations, and how they forged relationships with each other. Most of all, we find a story of two very different cultures profoundly misunderstanding each other.
However, we also find a fair and compassionate man in Australia's first Governor, Arthur Phillip. In the years from 1788-1792, his leadership was committed to treating the Aboriginal locals well, interacting with them as equals, and attempting to understand them.
As Phillip leaves the colony and subsequent Governors are less committed to these ideals, we sense an opportunity lost, and glimpse a different set of possibilities for Australia. This is a beautifully written account of a period in Australia's history which reminds us that things could have turned out very differently for Aboriginal people.