Swain has prepared a comprehensive bibliographical survey of all substantial publications on Aboriginal religions appearing from 1798 to 1990. The 1,076 entries are critically annotated and classified by geography and theme.
Tony Swain has prepared a comprehensive bibliographical survey of all substantial publications on Aboriginal religions appearing between 1798 and early 1990. The volume opens with a three-chapter narrative section which provides the historic and analytic contexts for the cataloguing that follows. The 1,076 entries are critically annotated and classified by geography and theme. More specific investigation of selected topics can be pursued through the four indexes which, besides offering an alphabetical listing of all titles and authors, provide access by tribes and places and general subjects.
The three narrative chapters explore the history of the study of Aboriginal religions, the emergence of key themes in investigating these traditions, and the unique features of the regions which provide the primary classification for the bibliography that follows. Chapter one shows how a succession of theories, conceptions, and blatant prejudices have molded the way writers approached the traditions of the Aborigines. Chapter two examines those themes scholars have felt useful in analyzing Aboriginal religions, placing their emergence in historical perspective and discussing their usefulness as conceptual tools. Finally, the third chapter highlights the unique features of the ten regions used as the primary categories of classification, describing possible historical forces which have shaped their particular forms. This first bibliography of Australian Aboriginal religions is an essential acquisition for all serious academic libraries.
Foreword by G. E. Gorman Preface Narrative Survey The History of the Study of Australian Aboriginal Religions The Themes The Regions Bibliographical Survey Trans-Regional Torres Strait Islands Cape York Peninsula (and Gulf Region) Central-North Kimberley South-West Western Desert Central Desert Lake Eyre South-East Tasmania Author Index Title Index Tribes and Places Index General Subject Index
Reviews With more than 1,000 references in Western languages, this is easily the most comprehensive bibliography on its topic. It is also a rare topical bibliography: one that surveys its literature and advances its academic study. The first 60 pages constitute an encyclopedic, interpretive survey of the literature which focuses on the history of the scholarship. The bibliographic portion is arranged regionally using the standard ten regions describing Aboriginal habitats. Extensive see-also references facilitate use. Each regional section has relevant topical subdivisions such as initiation, women, death, myth, and so on. The annotations are evaluative; author, title, and general subject indexes are provided. Swain (University of Sydney) has written a first-rate book. The obvious target audience for this book in the US is scholars with interests in Aboriginal religion and perhaps comparative religion more generally. Few libraries will have the Annual Bibliography of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (1989-), which complements this monographic bibliography, so for many Swain will be a relevant purchase.—Choice