• rejection of culture;
  • Aboriginal Christianity;
  • Pentecostalism;
  • Malcolm Calley

ABSTRACT This paper is an ethnographic and historical exploration of Aboriginal Pentecostalism, which permeated quickly into the Aboriginal community in rural New South Wales in Australia during the early twentieth century. Today the Aboriginal Pentecostal Christians in this region renounce Aboriginal ‘culture’. This, however, does not mean they reject Aboriginality. By examining Malcolm Calley's ethnography on the mid-twentieth century Pentecostal movement in this region and drawing upon my own fieldwork data, I show the way in which this group of Aboriginal Christians of mixed descent in a ‘settled’ part of Australia have maintained Aboriginality and reinforced attachment to the community through faith in the Christian God, whilst, paradoxically, developing strong anti-culture and anti-tradition discourses. This paper advocates shifting the study of social change from a dichotomised model that opposes invading moral orders against resisting traditional cultures, to one that examines the processual manifestations of the historical development of vernacular realities.