DR. KABERRY'S observations among the aborigines of north-west Australia, of which certain of the results are given in this volume, mark a new departure in the study of the primitive peoples of that continent. While it is no new thing for women to enter the field of anthropological investigation with the specific object of illuminating the sphere of the woman among backward people-that is a matter of the anthropological history of more than a generation-and Australian records include the names of more than one notable woman observer, Dr. Kaberry has approached the problem of the tribal woman from what in Australia is a new point of view. Hitherto, both in form and content, tribal life and organization have been assumed tacitly to be mainly the province of the male members of the group, with the female as an appendage or adjunct of the male, performing, it is true, certain functions essential to the continuance of the group and to the life of the individual, but otherwise of little significance. Here in Dr. Kaberry's detailed record of the results of observations carried out among various tribes in 1934 and 1935-36 is set out the evidence of how far the female members can be regarded as socially individuals, and how far the functions attributable to them pass beyond the ‘profane’ in tribal life and enter into the 'sacred’ province, in which the male has hitherto monopolized the centre of the picture in anthropological investigation.
Aboriginal Woman, Sacred and Profane
By Dr. Phyllis M. Kaberry. Pp. xxxii + 294 + 8 plates. (London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1939.) 15s. net.