Knowledge is power. By extension, the language utlised to control, disseminate and record knowledge can actively challenge, or sustain, existing power dynamics. In libraries and archives across Australia the power over Aboriginal artefacts and records is complicated by competing interests, various approaches to collection development and management as well as a constantly changing political context.
This paper explores the idea of power, in the context of Indigenous collections, through three diverse points of view that serve to highlight some of the ethical and logistical issues that circulate around three key areas: reclaiming power (exploring how Aboriginal communities can connect with historical texts documenting culture, language and events to understand the past and inform the future); returning power (exploring the role of cultural institutions in the repatriation of cultural patrimony and enabling connections with collections); and giving up claims to power and the ‘ownership’ of knowledge (exploring how every citizen can contribute to the restoration of power to facilitate the ‘return’ of knowledge to traditional owners).
This paper aims to, through these three brief narratives, highlight some of the historical issues that construct common views around Indigenous collections. In addition, this paper seeks to demonstrate the many opportunities that arise from exploring tensions that may be evident in library and archive collections. It will also explore how staff from diverse backgrounds can be professionally engaged to promote and explore, in strategic and thoughtful ways, Aboriginal materials in archives and libraries.
Kirsten Thorpe, State Library of NSW, Australia
Monica Galassi, State Library of NSW, Australia
Rachel Franks, State Library of NSW, Australia
This study is an analysis of Igbo oral funeral poetry with particular reference to Edda. The principal objective of the study is to analyze oral funeral poetry performance of the Edda people with emphasis on the form and structure of Edda dirges, belief of causes and effects of death, themes and significance of oral funeral poetry, funeral rituals and rites in Edda and the impact of Christianity and Western lifestyle on the performance of Edda dirges. An aspect of ethno poetic theory known as infracultural model in folklore analysis developed by Alembi is used in the analysis of data. The funeral artists make use of linguistic and paralinguistic features at their disposal to realize the aims of their performance and various imageries are used in the dirges to showcase emotion such as loss, events such as death and hunting, animate objects such as lion, kite and lizard, inanimate objects such as forest and mountain. The findings of the study revealed that the dirges poetically reiterate the theme of futility of life, social commentary, and reflection on life, spirituality and reference to the deceased. Dirges function as a repository of historical knowledge, a tool for social criticism, didacticism and as a medium of mourning and celebrating the life of the deceased. Ndiishina (spirits of the ancestors), witchcraft, charm, poisoning and suicide were identified as the major causes of death in Edda. This paper is set out to investigate the impact of Christianity and Western education on the performances of dirges.