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The Australian National University

Framing Aboriginal Lives

On Wednesday 18 July 2012, Peter Read (The University of Sydney) and Julia Torpey (The Australian National University) presented research from two projects (History of Aboriginal Sydney and Deepening Histories of Place) in a paper entitled “Framing Aboriginal Lives: A view from the Easy Coast”. The session was chaired by Ann McGrath.

Abstract

In this discussion we trace some recent and continuing changes in the way that Indigenous lives can be thought about and shared.

1. Seven Years On. This is a program initiated by the National Library’s Oral History Unit sixteen years ago. In 1997 Jackie Huggins and Peter Read began to interview a dozen younger Indigenous people per year to add to the ANL’s archive, planning to return to each of them every seven years. In each subsequent interview the subjects are invited to discuss personal and professional changes in their lives, ending with the subjects’ predictions of where and what they would like to be in seven years’ time. These predictions form the starting point of the next interview. Julia Torpey is one such participant. We will re‐enact, from the transcript, a few minutes of her first interview.

2. Video recorded history. Historyofaboriginalsydney.edu.au is a website which will contain, on its completion in 2014, some 100,000 words of text embedded in an interactive timeline, 1500 still pictures, extensive cross‐ referencing, GPS locations and some 300 video interviews. Subjects of the video discussions include personal histories, the story of key organisations, and visits to historic sites. We will present some of these videos.

3. Place‐guided videos. ‘Deepening Histories’ is a Linkage Project based at ANU, in which both the presenters are participants. One aspect of the project is inviting Koori people of western Sydney to share their personal associations with certain sites with others, including family members, or tourists. Using GPS technology, the interviews can be linked to the sites themselves, so that viewers can visit the site and learn of the historical and person associations simultaneously.

 

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