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Found in Translation explores the Anindilyakwa people’s interactions with Christian missionaries on Groote Eylandt in the mid-1900s. Laura Rademaker demonstrates how members of the Church Missionary Society sought to change these north Australian people’s beliefs by teaching them English and translating the Bible into their language – and changed themselves in the process. While demonstrating the missionaries’ impact, Rademaker also shows how the Anindilyakwa exploited their movement between languages, using creative interpretations and mis-translations to assert agency.
Functioning both as a metaphor and a focus for concrete historical investigation, Rademaker’s interest in translation proves an inspired choice. While delving into the specifics of intercultural contact on Groote Eylandt, this generous interdisciplinary work thoughtfully illuminates wider themes. Readers will learn about the history of missions, mid-century assimilation policy, the phenomenon of settler colonialism and an Indigenous people’s efforts to negotiate its impact – all while appreciating Rademaker’s dazzling use of oral history and glowing prose.