This thesis is about survival in the Far West Coast town of Ceduna, South Australia. In particular, the idea of ‘being Ceduna’ is discussed in the context of the survival ethic which permeates, and forms a prevailing condition for, sociality in the town. I have aimed at producing a substantial ethnography about white people living in rural and remote South Australia which can be used as a basis for comparison with other culture.
The work describes various classifications of person in Ceduna (ranging from old local, New locals, new person, newcomer and blow-in) and shows how the town’s survival ethic is promulgated through various forms of Ceduna Person. Issues relating to being Ceduna are tackled, for it is essential for a person to display particular behaviours to show their Cedunaness and that they contribute to the town’s survival ethic in specific ways. This can lead to acceptance which is essential to being Ceduna but comes with a flip-side: rejection. The importance of joining groups to being Ceduna is likewise described. Groups are seen to encourage survival because they force people to come together for the good of the community. The thesis also depicts and analyses Ceduna People’s ambivalent feelings towards their physical environment. In a way, the entire thesis leads towards the final chapter, wherein Ceduna People’s emotional responses to their country are drawn out. The relationship that Ceduna People have with their surrounds feeds into, and is fed by, the survival ethic, which then manifests itself in people’s love and respect for the landscape.
On a more general level, the thesis attempts, through ethnographic descriptions and analysis, to supply a critique of occidentalised views of Western society as a whole, and of rural people in particular. It does this via discussions of, for instance, Ceduna People’s responses to individualism and landscape, demonstrating the conventional anthropological understandings of western sociality are very different from Ceduna’s ethnographic reality.