Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the
camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant
Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer.
Museum Victoria, item XP15087)

‘Factotum and Friend’: Two Central Australian case studies in ethnographic encounter and exchange

Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the
camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant
Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer.
Museum Victoria, item XP15087)
Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer. Museum Victoria, item XP15087)

Jim Kite (seated, right) and a young Warumungu boy (on ground) in the camp of the Spencer and Gillen anthropological expedition at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, August 1901 (photographer: Baldwin Spencer.
Museum Victoria, item XP15087)

Wednesday 20th August, 2pm to 3pm

Monash Indigenous Centre Library
Building 55 level 2. Clayton Campus

Mickey Akwerre Pengarte Dow Dow was a Northern Arrernte man born at Harry Creek, Central Australia around 1856. Dow Dow had been present when Spencer and Gillen documented Arrernte ceremonies at Alice Springs in the summer of 1896. In the 1930s he produced detailed illustrations in order to explain complex Arrernte beliefs to another budding anthropologist, Olive Muriel Pink. Dow Dow’s career as an ‘informant’ continued when he met the young linguist and ethnographer T.G.H. Strehlow in 1932 and went on to share details of the mythologies and ritual of his traditional lands.

Jim Alyelkelhayeka Penangke Kite was a Lower Southern Arrernte man born near the Charlotte Waters Telegraph Station, on the southern edge of the Simpson Desert, around 1865. Kite grew up and worked at the Telegraph all of his life and in 1901 accompanied Walter Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen on their anthropological expedition across the continent to the Gulf of Carpentaria. On his return from the expedition, Jim began to produce curios from wood and clay with intricate carvings representing the various mammals, insects and reptiles. He also incised a boomerang with a rare scene of first contact between Arrernte people and the explorer John McDouall Stuart.

Seen through the lens of these little-known illustrations and carvings created by two Arrernte artists, this presentation will explore intercultural relationships that have shaped ethnographic research in Central Australia. These novel images will be discussed within the intercultural context of their production on the frontier where ethnographers and equally inquisitive Aboriginal men worked together during a time of social and cultural exchange.

Jason Gibson is the Curator for Repatriation Research at Museum Victoria and a consultant anthropologist. Having spent fourteen years working in Central Australia on a range on community cultural heritage and research projects he is now working on his PhD thesis at MIC on the Anmatyerr material collected by T.G.H. Strehlow.

For enquiries, contact Beverly Thomson
(beverly.thomson@monash.edu)

Download the flyer for the ‘Factotum and Friend’ seminar (PDF)