The Birth of the Living Archive: An emerging archive of Australian Aboriginal languages and literature

Michael Christie, Brian Devlin, Catherine Bow

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In 2012 an archive of texts in Aboriginal languages came to life in
    the Northern Territory of Australia attended by a host of midwives,
    friends, relations and well-wishers. Its birth was much anticipated and
    well received. Based upon several thousand books which were made in
    Aboriginal languages between 1973 and 2000, it bears within it the
    promise of addressing some persistent concerns of diverse interest groups.
    The authors of this paper have backgrounds in linguistics, language
    education and science and technology studies, but it is through both
    longstanding and newly acquired relationship with Aboriginal language
    owners that the archive takes on its unique, often surprising form.
    Designed in part as academic research infrastructure, the Living Archive’s
    overarching aim is the mobilisation of language work intergenerationally
    and interculturally. To view its current form, visit
    Here, we tell of how the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages came
    to be, and what it may grow up to do. Taking three perspectives in turn
    to highlight the multidimensional potentiality of the resource that has
    been created, the authors reflect on what has been achieved to date:
    not to claim that the project has achieved all that it set out to, but to
    make explicit the complex interplay of considerations that have to be
    borne in mind as the work progresses. What has been presented is a non-
    Aboriginal perspective, albeit one which has been strongly influenced
    by decades of involvement with Aboriginal communities, and which
    encourages dialogue and input from those authorities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)48-63
    Number of pages16
    VolumeOctober 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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