Making Histories ‘Ngapartji-ngapartji Way’
History assumes a particular significance in contemporary colonised settler Australia. The epistemological and political challenges that persist for those historians wanting to explore an intercultural historical understanding of Australia continue to prompt questions about the nature of the discipline of History itself. This paper explores how my own intercultural, historical research seeks to actively and creatively engage with some of these epistemological and political challenges. An encounter with an unusual ethnography, set in a Central Australian cattle station and based upon the observations of the Aboriginal people who lived there, has led to an engagement of my research with archives of two very different kinds. By critically and actively engaging with the documents in the Rose archive and with Ara Irititja, an Aboriginal owned, interactive digital archival project, I hope to work with Anangu to create a collaborative and participatory research space. In exploring the use of digital media, this research project seeks to engage with the visual, oral, spatial and experiential nature of Aboriginal histories and ways of knowing and in doing so explore new and non-textual methods for historical thinking, writing and representation. Reciprocity and exchange, or doing research ngapartji-ngapartji way as a Pitjantjatjara speaking person might say, are foundational to my methodological approach. Anangu are not my informants. I do not want to merely observe. In seeking an intercultural and participatory engagement, this research project seeks to create a collaborative space that can tell the history of a Central Australian landscape and its people that engages Aboriginal people in history making and knowledge exchange.
Shannyn Palmer, “Making Histories ‘Ngapartji-ngapartji Way’: Exploring Collaboration, Exchange and Intercultural Histories in a Colonised Settler Nation”, History Compass Volume 11, Issue 2 (February 2013): 117–132 (first published online 24 January 2013).