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An Australian Indigenous Diaspora: Warlpiri Matriarchs and the Refashioning of Tradition

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An Australian Indigenous Diaspora

Warlpiri Matriarchs and the Refashioning of Tradition

Paul Burke

248 pages, 11 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-388-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-389-7 eBook

View Cart Your country: - edit   Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub format Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Burke’s compelling ethnography challenges some academic assumptions of Warlpiri parochialism.” • Anthropos

An Australian Indigenous Diaspora is of great impact and extremely relevant to the field of diaspora and kinship studies… [It] provides a very interesting account that will definitely be useful for anthropologists studying indigenous diasporas and constitutes very resourceful empirical material on indigenous ethnographic fieldwork.” • Social Anthropology

“The book’s most outstanding strength is it presents the only ethnographic account to date represents the Walpiri people that reside and aspire to make lives for themselves outside of the small-scale settlements of the Tanami desert region…This book is a valuable contribution to broader studies of migration and specifically diaspora studies, as well as being a novel approach to Walpiri research.” • The Australian Journal of Anthropology

“The insight Burke provides into the expansion of personal Warlpiri social networks and the role of matriarchs in maintaining them are important, and overall, I regard this study to be a valuable addition to the growing international literature on (urban) Indigenous mobility.” • Anthropological Forum

“This ethnographic approach to Warlpiri mobility has produced an understanding of its tendencies, conditions, personalities, that we did not have before. The work validates the importance of research at dispersed sites. The ground-level approach proves its merit and does not displace but contrasts with textual and mass media focused studies and commentary on forms of indigenous mobility, transformation and interculturalism.” • The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

“This is a remarkable empirical study of the Warlpiri diaspora. It concerns a fascinating and as yet untold story of those ‘exceptional’ Indigenous people from remote communities who successfully make lives in towns and cities… [It] is a delight to read and tremendously engaging.” • Emma Kowal, Deakin University

“This book charts novel territory, and presents path-breaking and significant new research. The insights the author provides into the lives of Warlpiri matriarchs in the diaspora are a timely, welcome, and much needed addition to the study of Australian Indigenous people.” • Yasmine Musharbash, University of Sydney


Some indigenous people, while remaining attached to their traditional homelands, leave them to make a new life for themselves in white towns and cities, thus constituting an “indigenous diaspora”. This innovative book is the first ethnographic account of one such indigenous diaspora, the Warlpiri, whose traditional hunter-gatherer life has been transformed through their dispossession and involvement with ranchers, missionaries, and successive government projects of recognition. By following several Warlpiri matriarchs into their new locations, far from their home settlements, this book explores how they sustained their independent lives, and examines their changing relationship with the traditional culture they represent.

Paul Burke is currently a Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University.  In 2009, he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Australian Research Council to conduct the research for this book. His previous work on anthropologists in native title claims, Law’s Anthropology, was published by ANU Press in 2011.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Refugee and Migration Studies
Area: Asia-Pacific


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