Indigenous archives address colonial history

Associate Professor Natalie Harkin’s research decolonising Australian history archives at Flinders University has received a major boost, with her latest project reimagining Indigenous creative-arts archives awarded almost $1 million in ARC Future Fellowship funding.

The fellowship project will collaborate with Indigenous communities and cultural organisations to survey, scope and investigate innovative and dynamic ways of archiving important stories incorporating oral history and archives for the future record.

The Australian Research Council has awarded Associate Professor Harkin $908,906 in the first round of 2022 Future Fellowship announcements for the project, “Indigenous Living-Legacy Archives: Memory Story Innovations for our Time” (FT220100078).

Associate Professor Natalie Harkin in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

The project aims to investigate Indigenous community and colonial archives as powerful sites of social and cultural memory, and creative intervention.

Associate Professor Harkin, a Narungga woman, says the project is addressing the damaging intergenerational impacts of colonial institutions and archives to Indigenous people and communities by transforming them into powerful sites of social and cultural memory.

“Our research project will reshape colonial methods of archiving and official accounts of collective storytelling and consider the counter-narrative potential of the archive by engaging with Indigenous communities as a means to respond, reframe and transform such impacts,” says Associate Professor Harkin.

“These sites can locate, repatriate, and transform fundamental narratives of history and collective memory to reassert and determine Indigenous voice and agency. This work partners with peak Indigenous arts and archive networks to demonstrate the value of Indigenous living-legacy archive innovations and initiatives for cultural preservation and renewal, through unique community-led modes of storytelling.”

The research will look to improve community wellbeing and healing through self-determined production of knowledge and stories of local and global impact, with the aim of establishing a truth-telling legacy for future generations.

“There is increasing demand by Indigenous people to reinstate Indigenous agency and voice to the record through ethical encounter, access, rights of reply to collections, knowledge repatriation, data sovereignty and self-determination,” says Associate Professor Harkin.

“The need to tell our own stories, from our diverse, localised Indigenous standpoints is ongoing. There is so much work to be done to effectively trace history’s legacies via the colonial archive.”

Posted in
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences News Research Uncategorized