Posted to the Ethnos Project by on June 12th, 2013

Indigenous Australians are often keen to use digital technologies in their local knowledge practices as part of a struggle to develop sustainable livelihoods on-country. They want to use digital technologies to ensure that ‘history stays in-place’, seeing their knowledge practices as expressing the remaking of an Ancestral reality. This paper tells of a research project that discovered the hard way that the notion of ‘development’ Aboriginal groups articulate is better understood as ‘envelopment’. As we began to discern Aboriginal Australian ways of ‘doing place’ we came to see how Aboriginal Australians struggled against the grain of digital technologies designed as tools for representation, turning them to use in knowledge practices where each instance of re-presentation is a unique performance choreographed for a particular momentary situated purpose. At the same time they were prepared to use possibilities the technologies offered in producing seeming definitive representations to achieve political ends when dealing with representatives of mainstream Australia.

Keywords: Indigenous Australian knowledge; development; Yolngu Aboriginal concepts; use and design of digital technologies of representation.

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