An ‘act of intellectual reconciliation’

The ancient methods traditional indigenous cultures used to memorise important information had to work.
They could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Now prolific Castlemaine author Dr Lynne Kelly has teamed up with Australia’s head of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges, Margo Neale, to produce a significant new book shedding light on these time-tested mnemonics.
Set for public release next month, Songlines: The Power and Promise weaves deeply personal storytelling with extensive research on mnemonics providing new insights into indigenous traditional knowledge and how it might be applied today to help us thrive into the future.
“My perspective in Songlines draws on 12 years of research in a PhD and three previous books, but working with Margo added a nuance to it that I just hadn’t been able to grasp before working so closely with an indigenous writer,” says Dr Kelly who’s internationally regarded previous works include The Memory Code.
“We’ve constantly talked about ‘them’ and ‘us’ but this is about ‘we’.
“Indigenous people store knowledge in a complex combination of Country, song, dance, story and sacred object.
“We, in the second archive, use writing and technology.
“The third archive offers us something, without giving up anything, of using both, combining them so that on top of our way of learning with writing and technology we can add song, dance, Country, memory devices – and your world just comes to life.
The new book ties in with the National Museum of Australia’s successful exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters set to travel to the Western Australia Museum next month before embarking on an international tour.
It’s also the first book in Thames and Hudson Australia’s new First Knowledges series that’s being hailed as “an act of intellectual reconciliation”.
Songlines’ co-author, Margo Neale, is also senior indigenous curator and principal adviser to the director of the National Museum of Australia, and adjunct professor at Australian National University.
Like Dr Kelly, she’s prolific, having authored or edited numerous books, including the Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture.
Now she’s editing the new six-book First Knowledges series aimed at deepening our understanding of indigenous knowledge across multiple vital areas, and their potential application in the present and future.
Dr Kelly and Margo Neale will feature in an online guest discussion about their new book, to be delivered through Goldfields Libraries on Wednesday November 11.
Goldfields Libraries Castlemaine manager Jess Saunders says online bookings for the virtual session will open via the library website from early next month.
The book will also become publicly available from next month.

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