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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the relationship between graffiti and rock art in the context of archaeological and heritage studies. It outlines how archaeologists, and particularly rock art scholars, have approached graffiti and addresses the complexities of terminology and contested values common to this field of study. The author argues against an oversimplified polemic that has hampered the progression of graffiti/rock art research, suggesting that much may be learned about processes of identification, evaluation, and interpretation by considering graffiti and rock art as associated, albeit distinct, practices of inscription. Through an investigation of two specific sites of historical inscription—Alcatraz Island (San Francisco, US) and the North Head Quarantine Station (Sydney, Australia)—the chapter demonstrates the powerful role that inscription practices play in the making and unmaking of places and the meanings they carry.

Keywords: graffiti, rock art, inscription, mark-making, place-making, heritage, colonization, Indigenous, Australia, Alcatraz

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