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Deciphering Arrernte archives: The intermingling of textual and living knowledge

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Title:Deciphering Arrernte archives: The intermingling of textual and living knowledge
Authors:Jason Gibson
Shaun Angeles
Joel Liddle
Indigenous knowledge
Aboriginal history
Date Issued:Oct 2019
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Gibson, Jason, Shaun Penangke Angeles, and Joel Perrurle Liddle. "Deciphering Arrernte archives: The intermingling of
textual and living knowledge." In Archival returns in Central Australia and beyond, edited by Linda Barwick, Jennifer Green, and Petronella Vaarzon-Morel, 29–45. LD&C Special Publication 18. Honolulu & Sydney: University of Hawai’i Press & Sydney University Press, 2019.
Series:LD&C Special Publication 18
Abstract:Arrernte people are arguably the most documented Aboriginal group in Australia. Their language was studiously documented by Lutheran scholars, their ceremonies were subject to some of the most intensive ethnographic documentation and many of their songs were meticulously recorded. In addition, genealogical and historical archives are full of Arrernte social histories, and museum stores contain thousands of Arrernte-made artefacts. This chapter contains a condensed and edited transcript of interviews with two Arrernte men, Shaun Angeles and Joel Liddle, who discuss their deep and varied interests in these records and the archives that contain them. Both Joel and Shaun are of a younger cohort of Arrernte men living in the Alice Springs region who are increasingly interested in utilising the potential of archival material as a means of assisting Arrernte language and cultural transmission. These interviews explore some of the issues Arrernte peoples confront as they work through archives. We discuss the challenges of variant orthographies in the 19th and 20th century records, the limitations of conventional cataloguing requirements and the importance of reading archival texts in a way that sees them emplaced and tested against the knowledge of elders. Archival records are explained as being necessarily embedded within Arrernte social memory and orality and framed by local socio-cultural practices. Reflecting upon their own experiences, Joel and Shaun are able to provide advice to future generations in their dealings with collecting institutions and make recommendations to current and future researchers (ethnographic and linguistic) who are documenting Arandic material. The chapter concludes with a discussion about the role of digital technologies in the future dissemination of cultural materials.
Appears in Collections: LD&C Special Publication No. 18: Archival Returns: Central Australia and Beyond

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