Reading Social Organization in a Watery Landscape: Cutting Through South Australia's Woakwine Range. [abstract].
The subject of this paper is the drainage landscape of an area that stretches along the South Australian coast from Robe to Beachport and extends inland by several kilometres, including Lakes Eliza, St Clair, George and Hawdon. The paper takes three time-slices (as European incursions began, early in the twentieth century to 1918, and 1955 to the early 1960s) through the landscape and subjects them to a comparative analysis that considers historical and cultural indications gleaned from archaeological data, letters and diaries, newspapers, interviews, photographs, films and government records. Central to the paper’s purpose is the question: what can historians learn about social organization from examining the cultural landscape of water control strategies? The paper argues that the three time-slice examples indicate several differences in social organization in the region: not only differences in the form, roles, responsibilities and attitudes towards government and the expected differences in environmental knowledge, appreciation and/or interpretation, but also, significant differences in people’s perception of themselves and each other, both as individuals and as social beings.