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Book: Restoring the Chain of Memory

Chapter: T.G.H. Strehlow and the Repatriation of Knowledge

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.27450


Repatriation often is associated with returning to their rightful owners the remains of Indigenous individuals or objects that were held sacred by members of the society. During colonial times such artefacts had been taken from Indigenous peoples and transported to museums or other sites, often located in Europe or in the major cities of the countries that had been established by colonial authority. It is a complicated process to determine who are the ‘owners’ of the objects returned and where they should be housed. In the case of T.G.H. Strehlow, numerous objects that were used in rituals were given to him, many of which in recent years have been returned to the Elders and are kept in the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs. What may be more significant in the case of Strehlow is what is being called the ‘repatriation of knowledge’. Strehlow collected a vast amount of data in the form of recordings, writings, translations, films, notes, photographs and genealogies. This chapter describes how Strehlow’s records are being used by the repatriation team located at the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs and how his Collection is being consulted by Indigenous families and Elders. Interviews by the author with leaders in the repatriation project are included, as well as citations from public presentations conducted by Indigenous workers at the Strehlow Research Centre.

Chapter Contributors

  • James Cox ( - jamescox) 'University of Edinburgh'