Displacing history, shifting paradigms: erasing Aboriginal antiquity from Australian anthropology

by Amy Way

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This article traces the formalisation of anthropology in Australia from 1880 to 1920, during which time the ‘discipline’ shifted from a framework of developmental evolution to one of structural functionalism. It argues that this paradigm shift necessitated an elimination of anthropology’s once-foundational logic of Aboriginal antiquity: severed, first, from a paired notion of human primitivity, then removed altogether.