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Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: 'this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind' / Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia. AIATSIS Conference 2001 / Barbara Glowczewski /  Australia/ Australie

Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: ‘this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind’
Barbara Glowczewski
Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, CNRS/EHESS/Collège de France James Cook University, Townsville
Abstract: Many people in the modern world identify with a culture essentially transmitted through live or recorded images and sounds. Image and sound are at the core of the traditional transmission of knowledge for many Indigenous peoples. Today, multimedia technology and the internet offer a fantastic way to promote and transmit oral cultures both for the benefit of the Indigenous peoples concerned, as well as to demonstrate the importance of local knowledge in the global system. Though text is still present in the new technologies, audiovisual information allows more direct access to Indigenous languages and cultures.
Debates about ‘New Technology, Anthropology, Museology and Indigenous Knowledge’ at the 2001 UNESCO symposium on ‘Indigenous Identities’ <> have demonstrated the importance of making these new information technologies available to all Indigenous peoples. Such access will enable Indigenous peoples to control the data available on the Internet and to produce their own tools for education and communication. This will also help to commit researchers and museums to returning material, developing projects in partnership with Indigenous communities and respecting ethical protocols. Drawing on my personal experience of using multimedia technology to return material to the Warlpiri people of Lajamanu, with whom I have been working since 1979, I discuss a part of the Australian experience which has been groundbreaking in this domain.
Indigenous peoples from different countries, especially Australia, have been saying for some time that the data collected over the decades by anthropologists and other specialists is very rarely returned to them. Access to recorded information, descriptions and analyses should be a right for the people concerned. This would allow them to control the representation of their culture and history and teach their children through the education system. People also need to know about the existing data and studies referring to them, so that they can deal more effectively with governments which, when considering land claims and compensation, may ask them for written evidence of their ethno-cultural ancestry. Finally, when people have control of such data, it is possible for them to debate and criticise the existing scientific interpretations.
For all Indigenous societies based on an oral tradition with no writing system, anthropological and other records have become an important part of their own history. But such records cannot be taken as automatically reliable, especially when the government is using experts who refer to old archives or studies to challenge the current oral testimonies of Indigenous persons.1 This conflict over authenticity is one of the reasons why Indigenous persons claim the right to re-appropriate, and take control of, the ways in which their culture, society, beliefs and knowledge have been represented
1    On the current critical movement in relation to anthropological classics in Australia see Sutton (1995, 1998) and Glowczewski (1998).

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Archives de chercheurs: Barbara Glowczewski [Collection(s) 28]
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Object(s) ID 86900
Permanent URI
Title/DescriptionReturning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia. AIATSIS Conference 2001
Author(s)Barbara Glowczewski
Location Australia/ Australie
Coordinateslat -35.27 / long 149.08

Copyright Barbara Glowczewski
Rank 1 / 16
Filesize 788 Kb | 1766 x 2500 | 8 bits | image/jpeg
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Quote this document Glowczewski, Barbara 2001 [accessed: 2022/9/25]. "Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia. AIATSIS Conference 2001" (Object Id: 86900). In Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: 'this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind'. ODSAS:
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