Studies of Religion 1 - Religious Lanscapes in AustraliaPresentation Transcript
Contemporary Aboriginal Spiritualities Religious Expression in Australia 1945-present
Discuss how Aboriginal spirituality is determined by the Dreaming
Kinship Kinship refers to the complex network of relationships, rights and obligations within Aboriginal societies. This defines the role and support for each person within their community. The connection that they have is recorded through their stories and ceremonial life. It is important to remember that they have no written records to refer to, it is through their oral tradition that their understanding of kinship is developed. (i.e. if they are dispossessed then they have little or no way to connect to their kinship groups and thus their connection to the Dreaming is diminished.
Ceremonial Life Rites of passage: Initiation Death and burial Periodic Ceremonies Health and Wellbeing Parties Focus ceremony – Burial Rituals Aboriginal people believe that the spirits of the dead return to the dreaming places they had come from. Burial grounds and the spirits of the dead are feared, even so far as for groups to move camp after the death of a member. The names of the dead cannot be spoken, even the media respects this practice, seeking permission to state the names of dead indigenous peoples. The practice varies from place to place with some groups cremating and other burying.
Obligations to the Land and People Obligations go beyond economical or physical. The spiritual connection to the land is significant. Ownership of the land is based upon ritual responsibilities rather than use and occupation. The Elders inform the people in the community of their responsibilities. It is their responsibility to do so. ‘It is a living entity. It belongs to me. I belong to the land. I rest in it. I come from there.’ Fr Patrick Dodson 1976
Discuss the continuing effect of dispossession on Aboriginal Spiritualities in relation to:
Separation from the Land Physical removal from the land has a significant impact on Aboriginal peoples, to be taken from the land that you are responsible for or associated with. The Stolen Generation played a significant part in this but was not the only element The ‘Protection’ policy would remove Aboriginal people from their land in order for it to be placed under the control of ‘Pastoralists’ (farmers) Their separation inevitably led to a loss of independence and culture as well as their connection to their spirituality. Try to consider a place of significant worship that has been taken away in order for other people to make money.
Separation from Kinship groups Without the connection to their family groups, without connection to the elders that negotiate their responsibilities, Aboriginal people had no way to understand their connection to the land. The establishment of that Kinship group was the manner in which they derived their family groups but also the way that they decided marital arrangements. Now there was a chance that a member of one family group may end up marrying another.
The Stolen Generation Children of half caste (quadroon, etc) taken from their homes in order to ‘protect’ them. The common understanding is that this was done in order to remove half caste children from their homes to ‘Breed them out’. This was not always true, in some cases there was genuine reasons for their removal. The Stolen Generation refers primarily to the children separated from 1950-70 (more than 100 000 taken) this was done in three ways: Putting children into government or church run missions Adopting children into ‘white families’ Fostering children into ‘white families’
Outline the importance of the following for the Land Rights movement
Native Title Land Rights: Claims by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to repossession and compensation for use of their lands and sacred sites. The name given to the legislation handed down by the High court of Australia regarding the land rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The desire to secure the rights of Aboriginal people to their land so that they could preserve their religious and cultural integrity.
Mabo Based on the efforts and movement of Eddie Mabo and his claim for native title on the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait. Eddie Mabo was refused entry back into his country with the claim that he was a trouble maker and he had spent too much time away from his country. Mabo began to challenge the European claim of ‘Terra Nullius’ (1788) through the High Court of Queensland 1992 This did not refer to ‘freehold’ land (most private land in Australia is freehold) This means that there was no concern that peoples homes were under threat.
Wik The Wik people and the Thayorre people made a claim for traditional lands on the Cape York Peninsula (1996) Decision handed down by the High Court of Queensland was that native title could coexist with other rights held by pastoralists (farmers) although this must be processed on a case by case basis. Despite this, Howard’s ‘Ten Point Plan’ resulted in a limitation on the decision making opportunities of Indigenous Australians.
Analyse the importance of the Dreaming for the Land Rights movement The Dreaming is the whole reason the Land rights movement is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Without the connection to the land that is expressed through Aboriginal Dreaming, Aboriginal people cannot realise their spirituality, cannot connect to their Kinship groups and have no way of expressing their obligation and responsibilities to the land. If a generation of people are taken from their homes, and placed away from their people, unable to practice their beliefs or connect to their people, and those people have an oral tradition (meaning that their stories and experiences are all passed down by word of mouth) Then there is a high likelihood that their traditions will be lost or misplaced. In order to regain some of that lost culture, the land rights movement grants the opportunity to reconnect with their spiritual centre.
Outline changing patterns of religious adherence from 1945 to the present using census data Look for: Changes in growth over time, comment on the possible reasons for this growth. Additions or subtractions in the religious expressions mentioned in the census. Link this information with the current religious landscape Identify flaws in the census process
Account for the present religious lanscape in Australia
Christianity as the major religious tradition Look for: Statistical evidence of Christianity as a dominating figure Possible reasons why Christianity is the dominant religious tradition
Immigration Look for: Changing pattern as a result of WWII Countries that are affected White Australia Policy Multiculturalism
Denominational Switching Look for: Changing patterns within Christian Denominations Not movement from one religion to another (eg, Christianity to Islam) Commentary on the kind of people who are switching and what that tells us about them
Rise of New Age Religions Look for: Evidence of freedom of religious expression Examples of New Age religions Links to immigration Isolate the proportion that identify ‘No Religion’ at one point and the change to different new age religions as they arrive in the census
Secularism Look for: The proportion of people who select ‘No religion’ The manner in which their express their spirituality if at all Impact of Gen ‘Y’
Describe the impact of Christian ecumenical movements in Australia Look for: The NCC and NSWEC references Find references that show how the movements have helped create a common understanding of religious expression within Christianity Evidence of acceptance of certain sacraments
Evaluate the Importance of Interfaith dialogue in multi faith Australia Examples within Australia of interfaith dialogue Examples of conflict within religious groups and the resulting dialogue