Aboriginal Astronomy and the clash of cultures

  • Night Sky

    Dr Ragbir Bhathal, from the School of Computing Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Western Sydney will be giving a public lecture on Monday 25th August, at the Campbelltown Campus.

    Like all ancient cultures of the world, such as the Incas, Chinese and Greeks the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been observing the night sky with its numerous celestial bodies for thousands of years.
    They have given Aboriginal names to the stars and celestial bodies, the names vary from one region of Australia to another due to the different languages spoken by the vast groups of Aboriginal people.

    "Aboriginal people use celestial bodies to create wonderful stories or narratives that are incorporated into their rich social-cultural life.  The stories or narratives are used by them for information on the seasons, the seasonal supply of food, sacred sites and landscapes, initiation ceremonies, the morals of their society, family relationships, marriage classifications and performing rituals," says Dr Bhathal.

    Their interpretations and perspectives of the night sky are different from those of other civilisations. They imbued their universe with spiritual beliefs and believe that the laws on the land are the same as those in the sky and vice-versa.
    "Some of their interpretations and narratives of the night sky - led to a clash of cultures with Australia's dominant society and had implications not only for them but also for the non-Aboriginal Australian society."

    Defining moments are; the Stars of the Tagai, the MABO case for land rights, including the cluster of stars called the Seven Sisters and the building of the Hindmarsh Bridge in South Australia which was seen as a sign of complete disrespect by the Aboriginal people of their culture and beliefs.

    Dr Bhathal will be discussing some aspects of these clashes during his lecture - Dr Bhathal carries out research in Aboriginal Astronomy and has written 15 books on astronomy and won two prestigious writing awards for his books.

    Since seats are limited, guests should book a seat by RSVPing to k.upston@uws.edu.au.
    Event flyer is available here.

    25 August 2014
    TIME: Start time 6pm to 7pm
    VENUE: Building 30, Lecture Theatre 30.G.212, UWS Campbelltown Campus
    RSVP: k.upston@uws.edu.au

    15 August 2014
    Contact: Tanya Patterson, Media Officer
By submitting a comment you acknowledge you agree with the Terms and Conditions.