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Susanna Servello

In: 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 66: Australian Aborigines

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Australian Aborigines
Australian aborigines

The native people of Australia are commonly called Aborigines, a much discussed term that comes from the Latin expression ab origine whose meaning is “from the beginning.” Even though nowadays this definition is mostly accepted, many members of the local populations dislike it as they perceive it as synonymous with oppression and as a stereotyped and discriminating way of distinguishing them from others. For this reason, they usually prefer to call each other by using hundreds of local expressions, such as alaua, nmat-jera, or tagoman, which are some of the names used in the Northern Territory, or gingai, gringai, wiljagali, or illawarra used in the New South Wales state. These terms generally mean “person.”

Controversial Definition

In the linguistic anthropology field, the identification issue ...

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