Description - Women, Rites and Sites by Peggy Brock

This book challenges a number of widespread preconceptions about Aboriginal society and its interaction with the wider non-Aboriginal society. It builds on recent scholarship that has drastically changed the view of Aboriginal women propagated by nineteenth and early twentieth century reports. These reporters unconsciously based their assessments on their knowledge of their own society; they could not conceive of women undertaking autonomous economic activity. These observations were made by men, and some women, imposing their cultural values on Aboriginal society, and dealing primarily with Aboriginal men. They were influenced by the fact that in white society political and religious power was in the hands of men; they shared the common assumption that the female roles of wife and mother carried as little power and authority in Aboriginal society as they did in western society.

This collection of essays, which includes accounts ranging from traditional societies to societies reacting to decades of interaction with non-Aboriginal culture, explores the active role of women in Aboriginal cultural and religious life.

It demonstrates the cultural authority possessed by women; it records the pivotal role of women as repositories of cultural knowledge and in the struggle to maintain or rebuild the means of passing on that knowledge.

Women, Rites & Sites should be read by all people interested in Aboriginal-white relations, in Aboriginal culture and women's studies.

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