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Language and Memory in Aboriginal and Settler Australia

Massam, Katharine (2012) Language and Memory in Aboriginal and Settler Australia. In: Forme della memoria e dinamiche identitarie nell'antichità greco-romana. Collana Quaderni (2). Università delgi Studi di Trento, Dipartimento di Filosofia, Storia e Beni Culturali, Trento, pp. 267-278. ISBN 978-88-8443-447-0

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Abstract

Awareness that the form of the narrative is part of its meaning has been a significant thread in research using oral evidence in Australia, especially for Aboriginal Australians. Three areas of discussion have been especially vibrant in recent years. Firstly, the impact of English as a language that shaped the colonial reality. The work of linguists, anthropologists and oral historians shows clearly that speaking one of the 600 or so local Indigenous languages made possible ways of seeing the relationships among people and between people and the environment that did not translate easily into English. This has significance both for Aboriginal Australians from groups where the language is threatened or lost, as well as for settler Australians who brought with them languages that were the product of other landscapes. Secondly, the significance of (and conservative resistance to) including oral evidence and Aboriginal memory alongside documentary sources for Australian history. The hard-fought debate on interpretation of the Australian national story that raged especially from 1996 onwards had at its heart the question of how to hear and value the oral testimony and Aboriginal memory of dispossession. As work continues that demonstrates the need for scholarship of compassion and commitment, the third strand of conversation is increasingly rich. This area recognizes the reality that telling, recording and working with oral accounts is a deeply relational process that requires an existential commitment from all involved.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: Aboriginal Australia, oral tradition, oral history, landscape, Australian historiography
Fields of Research: 21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Church History
A - Humanities, general
D - Spirituality and Spiritual Direction
College/Association with University of Divinity: UFT-UCTC: United Faculty of Theology - Uniting Church Theological College
Depositing User: Dr Katharine Massam
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2012 22:25
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2012 22:25
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1113

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