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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

content, it has the capacity to link together the right elements. This cognitive process is not necessarily directly taught, it may be acquired through participation in many rituals and travels. As an anthropologist, it sometimes took me several years to deduce meaningful connections which I did not see when recording the data. Had I only recorded stories, I would have missed many of the connections which appeared when relating them to other data collected during the performance of rituals, dancing, painting and singing. The CD-ROM was not only an ideal medium to restore Warlpiri connections, it also helped me to synthesise the whole network as a virtual means of exploration through pre-programmed hyperlinks interconnecting texts, images and sounds. For instance, every time a story-teller mentions the name of a Dreaming trail which is crossed while narrating another Dreaming trail, or a place name which is connected to another Dreaming, these names are highlighted in red and allow a link to the screen displaying the story of this other trail.
This invitation to wander in the territory of the Dreaming story-telling, painting, singing and dancing made the old persons extremely happy when they saw tangible proof of their teaching about the inter-relatedness of the Dreaming. The elders and all the women I worked with were excited by the new medium because it did not threaten their encyclopaedic knowledge or their power in the society. On the contrary, their legitimacy was affirmed by the fact that they are recognised by name as story-tellers and painters. They could see that only the public side and a small part of their knowledge was used to demonstrate that relations connect persons to elements of their environment and to a spiritual realm. The CD-ROM was going to confront the problem of children not learning enough of the traditional knowledge—survival skills, geography, medicinal plants, dancing and singing—because they spend most of their time at school; and the elders and the women recognised this. They were also proud to be able to present their culture to persons outside of their community using this medium.
Some of the middle aged men had different reactions, however. They were of my generation (I was 23 years old when I started in 1979). They wanted to know why strangers should be able to easily access the connections between things, to become familiar with information that takes a lifetime to understand in just a few hours. The ‘understanding’ they talk about is different from the immediacy (snapshot effect) of digital information. Their knowledge is imprinted in their bodies and mind through physical and metaphysical—abstract and esoteric—experiences which require collective performances, feeling of country and spiritual sharing. But these men, who have been involved in complex negotiations with developers and government officials for many years and who have endured the struggle for self-determination, no longer have as much time to spend with their elders to learn traditional knowledge. A similar resistance occurred in the early 1980s when Warlpiri and Pintupi from another community, Papunya, who had transposed their totemic designs on canvas, started to exhibit and sell the paintings all around the world. Some Lajamanu men were very worried about what they saw as a decimation of the traditional designs they share with this community because of common Dreaming trails. Nevertheless, they themselves started to paint on canvas in 1986, after meetings with the Papunya elders and some other communities where they decided what content could be shown and how it had to be visually presented. Lajamanu is located on the traditional land of the Kurintji language group, but the majority of who live there now are Warlpiri deported from lands further to the south.

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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 86911
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 12 / 16
Filesize 937 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: 86911). In Returning Indigenous knowledge in central Australia: 'this CD-ROM brings everybody to the mind'. ODSAS:
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