A Collaborative Assessment of Research History, the Interpretation of Australian Aboriginal Heritage and Digital Repatriation.
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG) and University of Western Australia (Perth)
Project duration: February 2021 to January 2024
Project collaborators: Christina Henneke (MA), Melda Demir (Student Assistant), Marius Heimer (Student Assistant), Ruben Sutterlüty (Student Assistant)
- Dambimangari Aboriginal Cooperation, Derby
- Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation, Derby
- Wunambal-Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, Kalumburu
- Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, Derby
- Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main
- Museum Fünf Kontinente, München
What is the value and significance of historical ethnographic collections today? Which roles can they play in the intellectual landscape today? How can their potential for Traditional Owners, museums and the wider public be assessed and accessed?
The aim of this project is to develop a systematic and collaborative assessment of the German ethnographic expeditions to the Northwest Kimberley that were conducted by the Institut für Kulturmorphologie (now Frobenius Institute, Frankfurt am Main) in 1938 and 1939 and the then Museum für Völkerkunde (Munich) in 1954 and 1955. The project will foremost draw on unpublished archival materials in Germany (photos, drawings, sketches, reproductions of rock art images, personal notebooks), published books and papers and the direct input from members of the relevant Australian Indigenous communities. As such, the project is a case study of critical research history and anthropological knowledge production. It is highly significant for the Aboriginal communities that are involved in this endeavour. The project is also designed to productively contribute to key contentious issues for ethnographic or anthropological archives, museums and collections today.
The project aims to contribute to the discussions about current challenges by concentrating on the analysis of a corpus of relevant materials from the Kimberley that are held in German institutions, summarise and digitise these, initiate the reconstruction of the circumstances and intellectual contexts of their creation and assess their significance and future potentials together with members of the relevant Aboriginal communities. In this context, it will be of crucial importance to understand the various intellectual influences that have impacted on the expeditions and its participants.
Wanjina Wunggurr rock art and archival materials return to country from Germany after 80 years
University of Western Australia, 22. November 2022
Wanjina Wunggurr rock art and archival materials return to the Kimberley from German collections after more than 80 years.
University of Western Australia, 28. Juli 2022
Project connects Aboriginal communities with rich cultural history
University of Western Australia, November 11th, 2020