We Come from the Past: Orality, Indigeneity and the Flow of Culture

Project: Research

Project Details


The project involves exploring a form of writing that brings orality, and indigenous story-telling in particular, to the fore. The idea is to create a whole book by speaking it. Spoken on Barkindji and Ngemba country by indigenous custodians to indigenous and white interlocutors, the end result, titled A Book that Opens, will comprise a popularly accessible archive of time-trued knowledge about river management down the Darling River and about care of the fish-traps at Brewarrina. The traps—possibly the oldest human structures on the planet (Heritage NSW 2014)—are of stone, served to maintain gatherings of up to 5,000 people in their flourishing, and constitute an archive of knowledge of sustainable practice in their own right. As such the research, and associated book, will seek to take to heart and enact the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent call (IPCC 2022) for countries to seek answers to questions of sustainable practice in indigenous cultures (see too Yunkaporta 2019; Fletcher, Hall and Alexandra 2021). The recorded conversations that make up the work will, at the same time, serve to platform a writing experiment aimed at generating a new form of orally-inflected prose, that stays far more faithful to the diction and rhythms of the original speech than typical interview text (on the model of Collis and Magee 2022). The project as a whole constitutes a practice-based experiment in bringing to book form the kinds of dialogic intellectual practice that indigenous thinkers have practised for millennia, also known as yarning (Bessarab and Ng’andu 2010).
Short titleWe Come from the Past
Effective start/end date1/09/221/09/23


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