Ways of (re)looking & (re)framing: Ronald & Catherine Berndt's 1945 Birrindudu photographs

Siti Ridhuan, Brenda Garstone

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


Current research into ethnographic collections invite us to re-evaluate the role of photographs as sites of active negotiation that constitute historical and ongoing encounters between indigenous peoples, anthropologists, institutions, and government agencies. For Australian Aboriginal communities and families, these materials often hold immeasurable personal value in addition to providing avenues to reclaim historical narratives, cultural authority, and to bring to light previously excluded voices. However, discussions and negotiations concerning such collection items and their outcomes often remain between researcher and community, overlooking the opportunity to critically re-frame internal museum processes and systems in applicable and sustainable ways. In this paper, we examine selected photographs from Ronald and Catherine Berndt’s 1945 Birrindudu fieldwork (housed at the Berndt Museum, University of Western Australia) to position these visual materials as an overlooked methodological tool for establishing indigenous perspectives and interests throughout the museum’s database core and information processes. We explore these materials as sites of cross-cultural encounter and dialogue to understand their different meanings over time. We argue that unrealised ways of looking at and reframing such collection items allows for the museum to actively incorporate indigenous voices and stories throughout existing systems, rather than solely in association with external research projects.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2022
EventAustralian Museums and Galleries Association 2022 National Conference: Hear.Us.Now. - Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre, Perth, Australia
Duration: 14 Jun 202217 Jun 2022


ConferenceAustralian Museums and Galleries Association 2022 National Conference
Abbreviated titleAMaGA 2022
Internet address


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