Indigenous Uses of Photographic Digital Heritage in Postcolonizing Australia

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The process of “postcolonizing” continues in the former settler colony of Australia, entailing intense struggles over national identity and culture. Digital heritage plays a key role in these conflicts, in the form of historical and newer archives that have become increasingly important within Indigenous advocacy for recognition. Constructed from more traditional museum, library and private collections, these have become digital assets that now circulate in radically different ways—for example, as proof of identities, and links to Country. Since the late 1990s, as a result of postcolonizing advocacy by Indigenous people and cultural institutions in alliance with rapidly developing digital technologies, a profound shift in management practices has facilitated the assertion of control by First Nations people. These are exemplified by the Aṟa Irititja project, and its replicants, such as the Storylines project at the State Library of Western Australia. Digital heritage and digitized historical photographs in particular are now considered to be key resources for building Aboriginal history and identity, challenging oppressive state narratives and strengthening communities. Despite concerns regarding loss of culture caused by globalization and continuing inequalities, Aboriginal interests have drawn upon this expanded photographic digital heritage resource, to advance their rights through new temporal practices of production, circulation, and consumption
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPhotography and Culture
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2021


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