Negotiating Yanyuwa rock art: Relational and affectual experiences in the Southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Australia

Liam Brady, John J Bradley, Amanda J. Kearney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Archaeologists have routinely used insights derived from the study of rock art to learn more about the life ways of humans from the deep and recent past. Yet questions concerning the contemporary significance, symbolism, and meaning of rock art to Indigenous communities have often been overlooked in pursuit of archaeological agendas. In this article, we examine contemporary engagement with rock art by the Yanyuwa Aboriginal community in northern Australia’s southwest Gulf of Carpentaria region using relational and affectual experiences to highlight how rock art is rendered multivocal, sentient, and an active social agent in the present. We argue that, by focusing on the wider social context of rock art, such as the networks of relationships that images are embedded within and the powerful affective nature of motifs, researchers are better placed to examine rock art in a holistic sense while also considering notions of change, continuity, and relevance in relation to visual heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-52
Number of pages25
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Rock Art
  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology

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