The Power of Knowledge, the Resonance of Tradition

power of knowledge cover

Luke Taylor

Dr Graeme K Ward

Richard Davis

Graham Henderson

Lynley Wallis

Apr, 2005
reprinted 2008
Anthropology and Archaeology
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$34.95 RRP incl. GST


The power of knowledge, the resonance of tradition is a ground-breaking critique of the concept of ‘tradition’ applied in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context. The authors offer a refreshing new style of analysis. In writing that is rich in detail, strong in analysis and informed by their research experience they argue for a deeper appreciation of the creativity inherent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social life, and the way that knowledge is constructed and deployed in complex intercultural contexts in contemporary Australia.

Each chapter draws on detailed local inter-cultural information which includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land and sea ownership and management, native title processes, service delivery arrangements for health and outstation management, and representations in art, song and broadcasting. In each arena there are multiple engagements with broad global processes.

The advent of Native Title legislation has led Indigenous communities across the country to demonstrate their ‘traditional’ connections to country. For many, their experiences of these processes are increasingly at odds with the complex inter-cultural realities of their contemporary lives. They feel the constraining effect of outmoded frameworks of ‘tradition’ in legislation and policy where social and cultural innovation are characterised as inauthentic.

The power of knowledge, the resonance of tradition draws together key scholars in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander social research and amplifies the work of an earlier AIATSIS conference. The authors provide productive ways of characterising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social life and develop a multi-disciplinary theoretical critique to the concept of tradition.

The book’s editors have extensive experience of research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Reviews and endorsements

'The essays question whether the concept of “tradition” as articulated in Australian law has sufficient flexibility and dynamism to represent Aboriginal connectedness to land and community. This concern will resonate with the experiences of indigenous people and scholars or indigenous religions in many parts of the world.'

— Mary N MacDonald, Religious Studies Review, Vol. 34, No. 2, June 2008


Last reviewed: 10 Jul 2020