Culture Lives on in the Surviving Soul: The Effects of Assimilation on the Preservation of Australian Aboriginal Culture and Identity


Artineh Samkian

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The Australian Aboriginals, thought by some to have embodied one of the simplest forms of cultural existence, were colonized by the British in the late eighteenth century, thus causing a potential threat to the maintenance and subsistence of their culture and identity. The subsequent two centuries of assimilation and adaptation to mainstream Australian society has greatly influenced their lifestyle though some have been able to preserve remnants of their past. I traveled to Sydney, Australia to execute an exploratory investigation of several members of the community. Using the methods and techniques of cultural anthropology, I wanted to explore the extent to which urban Aboriginals have been able to maintain their sense of identity after many years of cultural imperialism. By conducting several interviews, I was able to understand the perspective of many of the Aboriginals living in Sydney. I noted common responses to my questions even though each individual had specific forms of cultural maintenance. This helped me to analyze the beliefs commonly held by the urban Aboriginal community while, at the same time, experiencing the diversity within this population.


Scott Littleton




Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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