Review of ‘An Annotated Bibliography of Thesis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, 1948–2000’

20th November 2013

Annotated bibliography book cover‘An Annotated Bibliography of Thesis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, 1948–2000’, by Sean Ulm, Anna Shnukal and Catherine Westcott, 2001, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit Research Report Series 5, vi+101 pp. ISBN 1864995939; ISSN 1322-7157.

Annie Ross

This volume is a comprehensive listing of virtually every thesis relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture undertaken at The University of Queensland between the years 1948 and 2000 (1948 is the year of the earliest thesis located). The listing includes theses on archaeology, anthropology, history, health, architecture, literature, language, cultural heritage, and many other aspects of Indigenous culture. Every thesis is presented with details of author, title, degree, School or Department in which the thesis was undertaken and location of copies. Apart from those theses unable to be located by the compilers, all the theses come with a brief abstract. I concentrated on reading the abstracts of all the theses that I have read and I found each abstract to be both accurate and concise.

There is a clear introduction on how to use the volume and an explanation of how the data were collected and presented. This front section of the volume is important as it explains all the codes used in the presentation of each thesis.

Each thesis is allocated a series of keywords, which are then used as the basis for the construction of the index at the back of the volume. I was disappointed to find that the main emphasis in the index was location of thesis case study, rather than the central issue of the thesis. For example, I was interested in finding which theses related to issues of place, but there is no entry for this. However, there is an entry for cultural identity, and this category does provide, in part, access to those theses of interest. But in compiling any index the compilers must make some selection – it is impossible to list every interest area or possible category.

There are 352 theses listed in this volume, most of which relate to Indigenous issues in Queensland. I was not aware of many of the theses and some appear, from their abstracts, to contain material which I am certain will be useful to my research or to that of my students.

Clearly there is a need for such a resource to be available Australia-wide. If The University of Queensland has over 350 theses on topics of relevance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, there must be many hundreds more in other universities. There is a clear need for all Australian universities to add to the excellent beginnings made in this volume.

It would also be valuable to have such a resource available as a web-based database that can be searched on either keywords or on text (hence addressing my needs for particular categories). Such a database could be easily updated every year, providing a highly valuable resource for all researchers into issues relating to Indigenous Australia.

The volume compiled by Ulm et al. is a most useful reference for anyone working in areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. I hope that other institutions will follow the lead provided by this volume and compile similar collections. Perhaps it could then be the duty of the Australian Archaeological Association Executive to provide the full database on the Web, with State Representatives charged with updating the database annually.

A PDF copy of this volume can be downloaded by following this link.

Ross, A.
Review of 'An Annotated Bibliography of Thesis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, 1948–2000'
2003
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