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Language, art, media and youth: a community-based, collaborative approach to documentation

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Title: Language, art, media and youth: a community-based, collaborative approach to documentation
Authors: Woods, Gail
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: The Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) has developed Certificates I and II in Own Language Work to assist in building capacity in remote Indigenous communities to maintain, strengthen and preserve Indigenous languages. The courses provide training in language worker skills including vernacular literacy development, audio and visual recording, language analysis, transcribing and translating, language management and planning, language teaching skills and resource development. We take a project-based, interdisciplinary approach to course delivery, responding specifically to community needs and aspirations. In so doing, the foundations for community-based documentation initiatives are laid. In late 2007, a group of older women from Utopia, a remote Aboriginal communtiy in Central Australia, requested support to document bush medicine knowledge. The women wanted to create opportunities for ‘old people’ and young people to come together to ‘record stories and write them down’. In response to this request, lecturers for Certificates in Own Language Work, Certificates in Visual Arts and Contemporary Crafts and youth media trainers have been collaborating with the community, drawing on existing strengths: oral language competence, elders’ traditional knowledge and visual art practices, to establish a community driven documentation process. Key factors of the process are: • to engage youth to research and document local knowledge of bush medicine and, • to encourage them to express and respond to this knowledge through contemporary visual art, multimedia and the Alyawarr and Anmatyerr languages. Critical to the success of this project is the creation and maintenance of a space that allows for self-directed, creative and culturally meaningful activity for youth, to afford them the opportunity to confidently take on the role of mediating between old knowledges and digital technologies. This paper will report on the effectiveness of combining youth, media and art practices with respect to cultural knowledge preservation and language documentation. The discussion will consider factors including: successful youth engagement, the benefits of a collaborative approach to intergenerational knowledge transfer, the range and effectiveness of artefacts produced, reactions from youth and elders, and the acquisiton of new skills and roles.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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