In the first paper, Inge Kral explores the swift uptake of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by young people living in remote communities. Her paper, 'Youth media as cultural practice: Remote Indigenous youth speaking out loud', focuses on the rapid growth of new modes and channels for communication, and considers how young people are harnessing new media to pro-actively shape creative and cultural uses for new technologies. An important aspect of this paper is its discussion of the engagement of young people in ICTs and their positive participation in driving new forms of learning. Kral points out that recognition of this agency is generally absent from public or policy discourse surrounding remote Indigenous youth culture.
Kral's work speaks to many of the findings of last year's AIATSIS symposium on Information Technologies and Indigenous Communities (ITIC--see below). In this forum the vibrancy and creativity of the sector was demonstrated, and also its critical importance and relevance for Indigenous youth. Her paper is also relevant to a recent meeting convened jointly by AIATSIS and the Lowitja Institute, which brought together more than 50 Indigenous people to discuss the impact of the prevailing language of deficit within Aboriginal communities and the importance of engaging, instead, in agentic positive discourse. Kral's work substantiates observations at the ITIC symposium that Indigenous engagement in ICT and the discussions around this topic appear to largely defy deficit discourse.
In 'Mapping an ancestral past: Discovering the Charles Richards' maps of Aboriginal southeastern Australia', Gareth Knapman provides the first publication of language maps constructed in 1892 by a little-known ethnologist, Charles Richards. On the maps are 208 Aboriginal language groups in south-eastern Australia, covering a geographical area from the shores of Lake Eyre in the west to Brisbane in the north east, and as far south as northern Tasmania. Discovered by Knapman in 2009 in the archives of Museum Victoria's ethnographic collection, these maps may provide new insight into nineteenth-century ethnology and contribute information about languages and Aboriginal spatial distribution in this part of Australia. In introducing the maps, Knapman describes what is known about Richards' life, his research methodology and his theoretical approach to the information he collected. Noting that the maps 'represent the most comprehensive attempt yet discovered to list and locate Aboriginal communities over such a broad geographical area before Norman Tindale's landmark 1940 map of Aboriginal tribal groups in Australia' (p. 18), Knapman offers some initial consideration of their significance and contribution. It is intended that a later edition of AAS will contain further discussion about the Richards' maps, including analysis of the linguistic information they contain.
The third paper in this edition is also concerned with historical resources about language groups in the south-east of Australia. In 'Birrdhawal language and territory: A reconsideration', Ian Clark examines primary and secondary sources that document Birrdhawal language and spatial organisation. Discussing the similarities and apparent inconsistencies between the various data sets, Clark provides a reconsideration of whether Birrdhawal is related to Ganai, is part of the Yuin cluster or is a distinct language in its own right. He also examines the historical record for evidence of whether or not Birrdhawal country was landlocked or included coastline, and discusses Wesson's hypothesis that part of Birrdhawal land may have been subsumed into the territory of the Krauatungalung. Both Clark's and Knapman's papers point to a need for general reconsideration of nineteenth-century sources and further discussion about historical maps and mapping and contextualisation of these sources in modern perception of language groups and boundaries by communities today. As noted by Knapman, maps constructed by Europeans represent perceptions of landscape and territory in ways that may be very different to how people of those language groups perceive their own spatial organisation and country.
In 'Aboriginal literature in Austria: A discussion of three audiobooks', Oliver Haag discusses the translation of three Aboriginal texts into the medium of German-language audiobooks. He notes that not only has Aboriginal literature increased in popularity overseas (with more than 80 texts translated into European languages by 2008), but so also has scholarly interest in these translations. Haag's contribution is the first to consider audiobooks. In doing so he focuses not only on analysis of the translation, but also on the representation of text into a new medium, particularly the introduction of audio elements such as music and intonation in the spoken voice. His work contributes to existing debate about cross-cultural editing of Aboriginal texts in Australia and takes this further, as the audiobooks concerned have been through an additional cross-cultural 'step'. Of particular interest is Haag's discussion about how one audiobook has translations of the oral narratives in Aboriginal English spoken by Paddy Roe, which were originally published in 1983 as Gularabulu. Haag discusses the reasons why literal translation of Aboriginal English into German might have had problematic results in an audio medium, and considers the presentation of these oral narratives as a translation of Standard English to be the correct strategy.
Haag also considers how Aboriginal people are represented in the audiobooks, both in terms of direct textual translation and its oral expression, and also on the cover illustrations. He identifies a distinct discrepancy between the textual and peritextual representation of Aboriginal peoples, noting that the covers convey a representation of Aboriginal culture dissimilar to that which is portrayed in the audiobook content. As shown in the illustrations in his paper, the covers on the audiobooks are very different from the covers of the original Australian publications, and he discusses this discrepancy in the context of German philosophical tradition and discourse about Indigenous populations.
In 'Home to own: Potential for Indigenous housing by Indigenous people', David O'Brien considers three models for housing provision. In discussing 'provider', 'self-build' and 'supporter' models, O'Brien considers practical, ideological, economic and social factors to weigh up their advantages and disadvantages. His analysis uses examples of models in the Northern Territory--the provider model at Gunbalanya, the self-build model at Mt Catt and Moa Island, and the supporter model at Gudorrka. In the context of the 2007 Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP), the provider model is clearly dominant in government-funded initiatives today. However, in a comparison focused on cost, ownership and barriers to new housing initiatives, O'Brien argues for a more prominent role for self-build and supporter models in shaping contemporary Indigenous housing policy.
The final major article is by John White and examines 'Histories of Indigenous-settler relations: Reflections on internal colonialism and the hybrid economy'. White considers whether models of economic hybridity provide a theoretical basis for examining the history of cross-cultural relations that emerged as Indigenous labour became incorporated into settler economies. He compares and contrasts Altman's model of the hybrid economy and Beckett's work on internal colonialism and applies them to an analysis of the history of settler-Indigenous relations in the Eurobodalla region of New South Wales. White highlights the potential for further work in this area, and particularly how Beckett's approach may elucidate historical understanding. White's paper contributes to a growing body of work on the economic contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the historical and anthropological perspectives of which have most recently been considered in a 2010 volume edited by Ian Keen.
The research report by Karen Anne Sullivan and Rachael Sharman describes the trialling of an online assessment for third-year undergraduate psychology students at the Queensland University of Technology. The assessment was designed to increase student awareness of the impact of cultural differences on client presentations and thus the medical practitioner's choice of appropriate treatment. The trial was undertaken within a broader understanding that culture affects health diagnosis and that, therefore, cultural competence in mental health workers is of high importance. The approach was not to expect students to become experts in Aboriginal culture, but, instead, to make them aware of the reality of clinical practice and the likelihood of clients being from a cultural background that might be different to that of the clinician. The research report provides a case study into the increasing use of information technology (IT) in the education and health sector.
Since my last editorial (for AAS 2010/1), there have been two seminar series at AIATSIS, details of which (including presentation abstracts, audio and film recordings) are all available from the AIATSIS website. The second series for 2010, 'Text and Texture', was convened by AIATSIS Research Fellow Dr Jeanine Leane and examined the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and researchers as a counter to mainstream Australian literature, with particular focus on voicing the self in the context of hegemonic society. A total of 16 Indigenous authors and poets explored the various layers of the writing process, such as the misrepresentation of Indigenous people by non-Indigenous writers, the fabrication of Australia's past, and the layers of 'convenient truth' that have silenced Indigenous experience and need to be excavated through Indigenous writing.
Convened by Sarah Cutfield (Research Fellow, AIATSIS), the first seminar series of 2011 examined the perception(s) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the public domain. There are many misconceptions about Indigenous languages in contemporary Australian consciousness, yet they are nonetheless the subject of often heated and divisive discussion, opinion and politics. With presentations from a range of linguists, historians, language workers and anthropologists, this series provided the opportunity for exploring underlying assumptions and causes of these perceptions of Indigenous languages, and the resulting challenges and creative solutions they generate.
In July 2010 AIATSIS convened the Information Technologies and Indigenous Communities (ITIC) symposium. Co-hosted with The Australian National University and the National Film and Sound Archive and held in conjunction with the National Recording Project's ninth symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance, ITIC showcased the range of IT uses by Indigenous communities. Demonstrating the rich diversity, vibrancy and creativity of the sector, sessions included Mapping and Management; Digital Media and Cultural Transmission; Community Collecting and Museum Outreach; IT and Education; Language Revitalisation; Voice and Representation; ICT and Creative Solutions; The Social Impact of Digital Media; Placing Culture Online: Opportunities and Challenges; Safeguarding the Virtual World; and Media Associations and Remote Communities. This forum brought together 228 delegates, including 150 visitors to Canberra and eight from overseas. A total of 89 organisations were represented at the conference, with 69 presentations from Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, community workers and IT specialists. The final plenary session discussed this new sector in depth and led to the formulation of a Statement on Key Issues. This Statement as well as further information about ITIC, including abstracts, audio and film of many of the presentations, is available through the AIATSIS website.
At the time of writing, final preparations are underway for the 2011 Native Title Conference (1-3 June) to be held in Brisbane, this year co-convened with Queensland South Native Title Services and hosted by the Turrbal, Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul peoples, the traditional owners of the wider Brisbane area. Preparations are also well underway for the AIATSIS 2011 National Indigenous Studies Conference, which will be held in Canberra from 19 to 21 September 2011. With the overall theme of 'Young and Old: Connecting Generations', the conference will consider key issues for the younger and older generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whether living in urban, regional or remote areas of Australia. Information about both conferences can be found on the AIATSIS website, and a brief report will feature in the next journal editorial.
Finally, it is my pleasure to announce that the journal has a new Editorial Advisory Board, members of which can be seen on the preliminary pages of this, and forthcoming, editions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the new Advisory Board, as well as all those who assist with the compilation of the journal. This includes contributors and AIATSIS staff, as well as the many anonymous referees who undertake the crucial task of peer review. Many thanks indeed.
Ian Keen (ed.) 2010 Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies: Historical and anthropological perspectives, ANU E Press, Canberra.
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|Publication:||Australian Aboriginal Studies|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2011|
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