Documentary film by Association member Martin Thomas

Over the past eight years, ANU historian Martin Thomas has been working on Etched in Bone, a feature-length documentary made in collaboration with Béatrice Bijon from ANU’s School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics.


The film examines the theft of Aboriginal human remains by the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948, their removal to the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, and their eventual repatriation to the Arnhem Land community of Gunbalanya after a long campaign.


Etched in Bone will be launched on the evening of 4 October 2018 at the National Film and Sound Archive, a date that marks the seventieth anniversary of the bone theft. Key people who are featured in the film will be visiting from Arnhem Land for the occasion. On 5 October there will be a public symposium titled ‘Repatriation Revisited’ where you can hear the filmmakers, the Arnhem Landers and other scholars interested in repatriation. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about the story behind the film and discuss the issues it raises. Etched in Bone is distributed by Ronin Films.


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