Aboriginal Memory and Digital Memory in the Field of Virtual Cultural Heritage

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The intersection of the digital domain with cultural heritage has heralded great changes to the possibilities of representing and disseminating knowledge about indigenous cultures. One of the central features of this change is the capacity to recontextualise cultural expressions. In this sense, one of the key affordances of specifically digital technology is the capacity for representations of knowledge to become dynamic, to change over time, and to be open to multiple interpretations and new understandings. A key development with important relevance for cultural heritage is a growing mastery of and fascination with architectural and spatial information which enables the embedding of representations in actual landscapes, including satellite images (Veltman, 2003).

This has raised an important issue in the area of digital cultural heritage. It intensifies the possibilities of placing the phenomena of indigenous cultural representations including myth, language, art and knowledge in relationships that are faithful to appropriate cultural ontologies. Further, these developments offer the possibility of alternative forms of encoding and embedding knowledge outside of traditional ethnographic relationships oriented to translating indigenous knowledge into textual forms. This is attended by a responsibility on the part of those designing digital environments for indigenous cultural expression to theorise, negotiate and enact processes of translation that are consistent with the purposes and meanings of the communities involved. This paper proposes that scholarship on memory eg Ricoeur (2004), Olick and Robbins (1998) Yates (1966), Eyal…) can assist in identifying relationships of translation at stake in these processes. With reference to Australian research and design initiatives I argue that these conceptual tools are important to enable power relationships to be made explicit – a crucial step on the way to ensuring that digital environments serve the purposes of indigenous communities and their futures.


Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, Digital technology, Cultural heirtage, Memory
Stream: First Nations and Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Barbara Adkins

Senior Lecturer, Australasian Cooperative Research Centre for Interaction Design
School of Humanities and Human Services, Queensland University of Technology

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dr Adkins is a senior researcher with the Australasian Cooperative Research Centre for Interaction Design, where she develops conceptual and research frameworks for investigating sociocultural aspects of relationships underpinning digital content. One of her key areas of interest is the application of approaches drawn from the work of Paul Ricoeur and Pierre Bourdieu in the development of problematics suited to capturing systematically the relationships to knowledge and culture that are being reconfigured in the design of digital environments.

Ref: H08P0195