Culture in translation: The anthropological legacy of R. H. Mathews

Culture in translation: The anthropological legacy of R. H. Mathews. Edited by Martin Thomas, Mathilde de Hauteclocque and Christine Winter Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press; Aboriginal History Incorporated, 2007.

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Title Culture in translation: The anthropological legacy of R. H. Mathews
Place of Publication Canberra, Australia
Publisher ANU E Press; Aboriginal History Incorporated
Publication year 2007
Sub-type Edited book
Open Access Status
Volume 15
Series Aboriginal History Monograph series
ISBN 9781921313240
ISSN 0314-8769
Language eng
Editor Martin Thomas
Mathilde de Hauteclocque
Christine Winter
Total number of pages 267
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Almost 90 years on from his death, this is the first book-length collection of the writings of Robert Hamilton Mathews. It has been a long wait for the Australian-born surveyor who began his career as an anthropologist at the age of 52 with the 1893 publication of a brief paper on New South Wales rock art. Apart from a few short booklets, Mathews book of 1905, Ethnological Notes on the Aboriginal Tribes of New South Wales and Victoria, was his only work of anthropology to be published as a freestanding volume. A reprint of a long article published the previous year, it was a modest tome in that age of doorstopper monographs - 'little more than a pamphlet' according to Mathews' friend, the British folklorist E. S. Hartland. There was certainly an expectation that a writer so prolific as Mathews would disseminate his work in a substantial book. As Arnold van Gennep, the Parisian anthropologist, pointed out to him, 'your publications are for the most part overlooked because they are scattered amongst a mass of periodicals and it is a very difficult matter to have them all at one time in hand....'. Van Gennep recommended that Mathews immediately arrange for their 'publication in 2 or 3 volumes' - advice endorsed by Hartland who was enlisted to work with Mathews ornithologist son Gregory, then living in England, to place a manuscript with a London publisher (see Correspondence, this volume). But these efforts were unsuccessful and R. H. Mathews died in 1918 without ever publishing his magnum opus.

R. H. Mathews (1841-1918) was an Australian-born surveyor and self-taught anthropologist. From 1893 until his death in 1918, he made it his mission to record all ‘new and interesting facts’ about Aboriginal Australia. Despite falling foul with some of the most powerful figures in British and Australian anthropology, Mathews published some 2200 pages of anthropological reportage in English, French and German. His legacy is an outstanding record of Aboriginal culture in the Federation period.

This first edited collection of Mathews’ writings represents the many facets of his research, ranging from kinship study to documentation of myth. It include eleven articles translated from French or German that until now have been unavailable in English. Introduced and edited by Martin Thomas, who compellingly analyses the anthropologist, his milieu, and the intrigues that were so costly to his reputation, Culture in Translation is essential reading on the history of cross-cultural research.

The translations from the French are by Mathilde de Hauteclocque and from the German by Christine Winter.
Keyword Original Creative Works - Other
Q-Index Code AX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown
Additional Notes Translations from the French by Mathilde de Hauteclocque and from the German by Christine Winter. Authors prepress title: "Translating Culture: The Foreign-Language Publications of R. H. Mathews".

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Created: Tue, 06 Dec 2011, 14:31:34 EST by Andrew Heath on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry