Posted to the Ethnos Project by on September 2nd, 2012


I am aware as I begin this plenary paper that members of the library profession that are drawn to a presentation slotted under the theme, Indigenous Knowledge, are most likely interested in the systems and issues for managing information in that area.

And as soon as I presume that, the breadth of the issues spring to mind – the classification of information about Indigenous peoples, collection, storage, retrieval, access, copyright, intellectual property, the sensitivities of culturally different clients and communities, the politics, funding, distance issues, networking issues, the concerns about historical texts – and the list can go on (e.g. Edwards, 2000). This paper is not a discussion of these issues although I hope, from what I say today, you can draw some broad implications.

Libraries and the information profession, particularly those in academic or other scholarly institutions, occupy an interesting position in relation to Indigenous Knowledge and information. As depositories, collectors, organisers, distributors and mediators of information, librarians play an enabling role to those who produce or who want to use Indigenous Knowledge and sources of information (Francoeur, 2001). But being on the peripheries of knowledge production often means that the underlying issues, debates and contestations surrounding Indigenous Knowledge production most often would not be evident. It is to these issues that most of this paper is directed.

What I want to do today is discuss emerging concepts in recent trends across the globe to document and describe Indigenous Knowledge and how they are being integrated generally as well as in formal education processes. I then want to introduce the Cultural Interface as an alternate way of thinking about Indigenous and Western domains and before discussing the changing perspectives and the many opportunities that information technologies will provide for new agendas. I hope that by discussing Indigenous Knowledge and the underlying issues in these ways you will gain a better understanding of recent as well as future trends in this field of study.

About the Author

From the UNSW website: Professor Martin Nakata is the Director of Nura Gili at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He also holds the title of Chair of Australian Indigenous Education.

Prof N M Nakata (B.Ed.Hons.PhD) is the first Torres Strait Islander to receive a PhD in Australia. His mother is an Indigenous person from the Torres Strait Islands, and his dad was born in Kushimoto-cho, Japan. His current research work focuses on higher education curriculum areas, the academic preparation of Indigenous students, and Indigenous knowledge and library services. He has presented eighteen plenary and keynote addresses at national as well as international conferences in ten countries, and published various pieces on Indigenous Australians and education in various academic journals and books in Australia and abroad. His book, Disciplining the Savages-Savaging the Disciplines, was published in 2007 by Aboriginal Studies Press.

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