By Martin Thomas, Robert Hamilton Mathews
R. H. Mathews (1841-1918) was once an Australian-born surveyor and self-taught anthropologist. From 1893 till his dying in 1918, he made it his challenge to checklist all ‘new and engaging proof’ approximately Aboriginal Australia. regardless of falling foul with the most strong figures in British and Australian anthropology, Mathews released a few 2200 pages of anthropological reportage in English, French and German. His legacy is an exceptional checklist of Aboriginal tradition within the Federation interval. this primary edited choice of Mathews’ writings represents the various points of his learn, starting from kinship examine to documentation of delusion. It comprise 11 articles translated from French or German that previously were unavailable in English. brought and edited through Martin Thomas, who compellingly analyses the anthropologist, his milieu, and the intrigues that have been so high priced to his acceptance, tradition in Translation is vital analyzing at the background of cross-cultural examine.
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Extra info for Culture in Translation: The Anthropological Legacy of R. H. Mathews
31 Perhaps he resorted to these measures in the hope of provoking a response. If so, he finally enjoyed some success. 32 He pointedly complained about the extent to which Howitt had ignored his work, and the latter judged it too prominent a forum to ignore. Howitt’s response is highly revealing. He claimed to have learnt from Mr. Mathews’s letter that he has sent ‘more than one hundred contributions to various scientific societies’. I have only met with two of them, neither of which recommended itself to me by its accuracy.
R. Radcliffe-Brown was appointed to the first professorship at Sydney. Until that time, the highly competitive research environment was largely unregulated by academic protocols. This helps explain the rift between Mathews and the Victorians which assumed grotesque proportions after that first polite criticism of Howitt in 1898. So passionately did Spencer dislike Mathews, according to the psychologist E. 29 There was at least one occasion when Mathews and Spencer met in person, perhaps in an effort to settle their differences.
To be interested in Aboriginal language was doubly aberrant, as can be seen in a letter from an irate farmer whom Mathews petitioned for assistance in grammatical inquiry. 107 Non-Aboriginal Australians now have some idea of the linguistic diversity that once prevailed. Prior to colonisation there were some 250 languages. This diversity was not recognised in colonial times, and since then more than two-thirds of the languages have become extinct or have only a few elderly speakers. 108 For decades, white people derided Aboriginal speech as ‘black mumbo jumbo’.
Culture in Translation: The Anthropological Legacy of R. H. Mathews by Martin Thomas, Robert Hamilton Mathews