Journal article

'They live on in the photos': the ontologies of difference when recognition is given to descendant family and kin concern for, and responsibility toward, Aboriginal ancestors in photographs

Sharon Huebner, John Bradley



This paper considers the ontologies of relational repatriation, cultural reclamation and reorientation from past to present of ancestor photos by Aboriginal Elders, knowledge holders and their families. It leans into questions about cultural custodianship rights and the renewal of family kinship responsibilities to ancestors and kin, pictorially confined to repository collections of 19th and early 20th Century photographs. It engages with dialectical approaches to heritage reclamation and attends to the dialogic ethics and morals of an intimate social relatedness that does not separate history from meaningful experience, cultural authority from emotions. This paper explores cultural percepti..

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Funding Acknowledgements

Sharon Huebner is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne's Indigenous Studies Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences and an Honorary Research Fellow, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Faculty of Arts, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University. She holds a PhD from Monash University, Melbourne Australia. Sharon has collaborated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families for the past two decades, protecting and preserving intergenerational rights to cultural heritage, including the digital return of material culture from archives, libraries and museums throughout Australia. Essential to this engagement has been the advocacy of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property rights and recognition of cultural decision-making practices, ethics, and protocols. She has been the recipient of a Creative Fellowship at the State Library Victoria (2014) and a Hugh Williamson Fellowship at the University of Melbourne Archives (2015). The fellowships supported the co-developed scripting of the short film, 'No-Longer a Wandering Spirit -Imaginaries of Bessy Flowers' (2016).