Essay about Reciprocity in Aboriginal Australian Communities

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Reciprocity is not a simple concept when it comes to the Aboriginal culture. It can mean many different things depending on the situation it is being used to define. Reciprocity may be the notion of taking care of your kin as they will do for you. It might be the give and take between families and communities in which everyone shares what they have. Reciprocity may be being held responsible for your kin’s actions. It might be the approximately equal trades conducted between nearby communities. It may be the taking of a life in exchange for another. Reciprocity may be taking care of things such that they will be there when required. Reciprocity is in part to do with survival, for example when food and supplies are shared. Eckermann (2010,…show more content…
This social system held people together through codes of kin relations, which were invisible to the eye, but if mapped would form complex grids on a page, far denser than maps of great city underground rail systems. Aboriginal people knew these complex networks from a lifetime of practice. These grids of relationships came with rights and obligations which kept the people secure and insured against sc arcity. (Broome 2010, p. 12) It was these systems of kinship which determined who, and for which, members of the clan were responsible. In a society in which excess and wealth were not valued, in fact discouraged, this was a method of survival and insuran ce. These kin relationships were the foundation for all forms of reciprocity within the clan. For example, when a larger animal was caught in the hunt, it was pre-determined, depending on who captured the animal, who would receive which parts of the animal (Edwards 2005, p. 49). Sharing and reciprocity was not a friendly gesture within Aboriginal communities, it was an obligation which was to be taken seriously. It was a method for Aboriginal people to survive in a sometimes harsh and unforgiving land, which took the lives of many settlers. Survival being so important, there were times when desperate measures needed to be taken to ensure the continuation of a clan’s existence. One method of ensuring survival, in order to protect
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