Never giving up: Negotiating, culture-making, and the infinity of the archive

Sabra Thorner
Linda Rive
John Dallwitz
Janet Inyika
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University of Hawai'i Press
Archival returns are a significant issue of concern for Indigenous peoples in many settler-colonial contexts. This chapter focuses on one example from Central Australia, Aṟa Irititja, to reflect on how an archive might simultaneously preserve ‘culture’ and also reflect, accommodate, and inspire cultural change. We feature the words of an Aṉangu ‘senior law woman’, Janet Inyika (affectionately known as Mrs Never-Give-Up), and our co-authorship is consistent with this community archive’s commitment to co-production, yet also extends Inyika’s social justice work into the future. Together, we argue that a collaborative, intercultural approach to archiving, in conjunction with the affordances of digital media, facilitate negotiations that are culturally appropriate, and not threatening. Aṟa Irititja is inspiring the production of a new genre of archival metadata: advance directives on what to do with representations of a person upon his/her death. These words are urging a shift in protocols for the correct treatment of photographs, asserting new domains of individual authority, and establishing the archive as the proper medium through which these should occur. The archive is also a site through which culture-making is never complete, always ongoing – indeed, infinite.
Central Australian Indigenous people, digital media, intercultural productions, access protocols, archives
Thorner, Sabra, Linda Rive, John Dallwitz, and Janet Inyika. "Never giving up: Negotiating, culture-making, and the infinity of the archive." In Archival returns: Central Australia and beyond, edited by Linda Barwick, Jennifer Green, and Petronella Vaarzon-Morel, 263–284. LD&C Special Publication 18. Honolulu & Sydney: University of Hawai’i Press & Sydney University Press, 2019.
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