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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

just outside of their local (totemic) group but also with somebody who was a custodian of a Dreaming trail positioned as in a ‘spouse’ relationship with their own Dreaming trail. Family groups would often travel hundreds of kilometres in a year, but only some of the country and places that they crossed and used, water sources or other sites—hills, caves, rocks, ochre or quartz deposits—were considered to be their property and their ritual responsibility; for instance, significant places where rituals had to be performed to allow the maintenance of the connected totemic species, or phenomena, to make rain, to assure the growth of yams at each season or the reproduction of goannas. No ritual could take place with only the custodians (kirda) of the place and Dreaming, some of their allies, nephews and brothers-in-law had to be present in the ritual role of manager (kurdungurlu, policeman, lawyer or worker as the central Australian Aborigines say today).
The CD-ROM interactive map is an attempt to illustrate as simply as possible the complex web of the cognitive mapping of the land in the desert and especially the fact that, when actualised together, all the itineraries seem to criss-cross. But the trails are not just inter-twined over a flat space—that is, the surface of the land—some go underground (those of small marsupials, reptiles or roots), others travel in the sky (like birds and rain). In this three-dimensional web there are lot of common places which have two or more trails—to two or more totemic species and their custodians. Not all places crossed by the trails are necessarily owned by the holders of the respective trails; often the rights are shared between two or more groups. This causes a headache for land claimants from the Australian desert groups who all share such a vision of space and land. How can the right owner be identified according to the Western legal process? Aborigines know, when they travel, that from the point-of-view of the Kangaroo ancestral Being, it is the group of the Kangaroo custodians—his spiritual descendants— who are the owners of the place connected with the Kangaroo Dreaming (because of some ancestral action that was preformed in that place). But a few metres from this site, one can find prints left by the Yam ancestors and a soak that is owned by the Yam custodians whose other main sites go in another direction. The visual transposition of this Aboriginal cognitive mapping into an interactive map gives the user an immediate experience of this inter-connectivity which proceeds from the same logic as the web. Multimedia is an ideal tool for rendering this Indigenous mapping.
As anthropologists, we are expected to write books with an introduction, a conclusion and a linear development to present different aspects of the society in question. But to present an Indigenous society and its knowledge from the inside, talking about the Kangaroo group before the Rain group, may create false impressions of hierarchy or causality between the elements presented. It has to be said that the Warlpiri totemic groups do not organise themselves in a hierarchical way. People do not say that the Rainmakers as a group have more political or religious power then the custodians of the Kangaroo Dreaming, because both water and kangaroos were necessary for the traditional survival of the society. This ontological interdependence does not prevent conflicts between individuals and groups, and power relations expressed by word, strategic action, violent physical confrontation or sorcery. But such socio-political dynamics will not be justified in the name of precedence or set hierarchy between the totemic ancestors. Dreaming stories describe many conflicts and battles between ancestors of the same or different totem, very often as motivated by the desire and hunt for a prey which can be consumed. Opposed to this conflict of desire is the autonomy of each species, including gender: female or male heroes often live in pairs or

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Archives de chercheurs: Barbara Glowczewski [Collection(s) 28]
Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: 'this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind' [Set(s) 834]
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Object(s) ID 86907
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 8 / 16
Filesize 962 Kb | 1766 x 2500 | 8 bits | image/jpeg
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Quote this document Glowczewski, Barbara 2001 [accessed: 2020/7/7]. "Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia. AIATSIS Conference 2001" (Object Id: 86907). In Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: 'this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind'. ODSAS:
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