The Multinational Monitor



Book Reviews

Aboriginal Australians: Black Response to
White Dominance, 1788-1980

by Richard Broome, 1982
227 pages, $25.00 in hardback
Available from publisher: Allen & Unwin
9 Winchester Terrace, Winchester, MA 01890

This highly readable yet detailed historical work explores Australia's history from the Aboriginal perspective. Broome, an Australian history professor, takes the reader from the "European invasion" in 1788, through the years of dominance and exploitation, to the present hopeful signs - in Broome's view - of burgeoning self-determination.

Aboriginal Australians, fourth in a series on "The Australian Experience," includes footnotes, bibliography, and interesting historical photos.

The English came to Australia in 1788 to colonize and soon dispossesed the Aborigines of their land without qualms, treaties, or compensation since they considered the lands to be "waste lands for the taking." This dispossession, Broom argues, is "the crux of the race relations problems in Australia, for it meant that injustice was sanctioned by the state."

From the tentative conflicts on the coast to the increasingly bloody disputes as the Europeans moved into the interior with their sheep, "each confrontation was a dramatic clash between the Aboriginal people who saw the land religiously, as an intimate part of themselves and all life, and the Europeans who saw it economically, as a commodity to be taken, exploited, bought and sold."

Aborigines resisted, but, out-numbered and out-organized, they became "dwellers on the fringes of white society." Broome insists that they be given credit for the feat of surviving in the face of disease and massacre: "Aborigines must also be seen to be survivors - battlers, fighting tenaciously for existence in their camps." Though they lost the Aboriginal "high culture," they survived by maintaining the "traditional Aboriginal rhythms of life," hunting some, working casually, getting food from the government or settlers, while "often in poor health and gripped by alcohol and tobacco addiction."

Broome also discusses the restrictive Aborigine laws, attempts by missionaries to "civilize" the "savages," caste systems of control, exploitation for low wages in the 20th century, particularly in the cattle industry (and the Aborigines' three year strike for better pay and living conditions on the cattle stations), and the more recent mining on Aborigine lands.

In the '60s and '70s, Aborigines have more stridently protested their situation and demanded change. Broome reviews the land rights campaign, arguing that it has been "a powerful politicising force because it has brought them together on a national level for the first time in their history." The Aborigine's moderate successes in obtaining recognition of their land claims, and white Australian's increased knowledge of Aborigines, leads Broome to conclude that "now more than at any other time since 1788, there are grounds for optimism about race relations in Australia."

The Guaymi People and Their Future
edited by Centro de Estudios y Accion Social-Panama
(Center for Study and Social Action-Panama) and the
Sponsoring Committee of the Forum on
the Guaymi People and their Future
October 1982, 408 pages, Spanish only
Available for $10.00 ($13.00 airmail from
CEASPA, Apartado 6-133, El Dorado, Panama

This anthology written in Spanish, charts the history of the Guaymi people of Panama, the social problems stemming from colonialism, and their struggles to retain their land, recently against the encroachment of huge development projects run by such giants as Rio Tinto Zinc.

The articles included in this anthology were selected from those presented at the "Forum on the Guaymi People and their Future" held in Panama City in March 1981. The conference was sponsored by the Guaymi Indian General Congress, CEASPA, and five Panamanian churches.

Table of Contents