Australia’s Aboriginal culture is “beautiful”, but its “toxic” culture can make it difficult to understand other cultures, according to a study by a team of researchers.
The research, published in the journal Culture and Anthropology, said Samoan cultures were a “culturally unique blend of cultures” and had “been at the centre of much of Australian life for hundreds of years”.
“Samoan culture was first recorded by British explorers in the 19th century and remains one of Australia’s most widely studied cultural groups,” the study said.
“However, the history of Samoan identity is not well understood.”
The researchers said there was an “understanding gap” in knowledge about the origins of Samoans identity, as there was “little information on the history and cultural development of Samos culture”.
The study, which looked at more than 150 documents from 17th and 18th century Samoan settlements, also found the Samoan language and culture “was not well defined” and was often used as a “soft” identity to disguise cultural differences between Samoas and non-Samoans.
In addition, the study found there were “many conflicting interpretations” of Samoa culture, with many people thinking the Samoan language was a “Western” one, but others claiming it was indigenous.
Samoan-Australian relations have become strained over land and cultural issues in recent years.
Australia’s Prime Minister has previously said the Samos “are very, very special to us”, but has also said it would be a mistake to dismiss their cultural identity.
Professor John Hirst from the University of New South Wales, one of the study’s co-authors, said the research “reveals the Samoos as a complex and dynamic culture”.
“We have no idea how or why the Samoa have become such an integral part of our cultural heritage,” he said.
“Their language is a part of Australian culture, they have an identity which many Australians recognise as their own, and they have developed an elaborate system of customs which are shared across Australia.”
Dr Hirst said he hoped the study would help clarify “how these complex groups have developed through the centuries”.
He said the study was based on “very large collections of materials, mostly in Australian collections”, which was “huge” and would help the government develop a national curriculum.
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