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Accepted Paper:

Indigenizing digital technologies, imagining cultural futures: Ara Irititja reshapes new media in contemporary Australia  
Sabra Thorner (Mount Holyoke College)

Paper long abstract:

Databases and digital archives are tools embedded with assumptions about the world. Drawing from dissertation fieldwork with Ara Irititja, an Aboriginal organization based in Adelaide, Australia, but with workstations throughout the remote Pitjantjatjara-Yankunyjatjara Lands, this paper examines how Indigenous ontologies reshape digital technologies.

Beginning 15 years ago with the digital repatriation of photographs, oral histories, and film recordings, Ara Irititja is undergoing a significant transition—from an object-based digital archive into a multimedia knowledge management system. New software (purpose-built, browser-based, cross-platform) will store and share knowledge using structures and strategies that reflect and enact Indigenous cultural protocols. Organizing principles are nonlinear; access is directed by a user's gender and seniority; and individuals/families can record stories in their own words and language directly into an easy-to-use interface.

Interrogating "the archive," the Internet, and the production of contemporary Indigeneities, this paper argues that traditional cultural knowledge and state-of-the-art digital technologies can be interanimated, as Indigenous people dare to imagine their own cultural futures.

Panel IW003
Digital anthropology
  Session 1