Repatriation of Indigenous Cultural Heritage examines how returned materials - objects, photographs, audio and manuscripts - are being received and reintegrated into the ongoing social and cultural lives of Aboriginal Australians.
Combining a critical examination of the making of these collections with an assessment of their contemporary significance, the book exposes the opportunities and challenges involved in returning cultural heritage for the purposes of maintaining, preserving or reviving cultural practice. Drawing on ethnographic work undertaken with Aboriginal communities and the institutions that hold significant collections, the author reveals important new insights about the impact of return on communities. Technological advances, combined with the push towards decolonizing methodologies in Indigenous research, have resulted in considerable interest in ensuring that collections of cultural value are returned to Indigenous communities. Gibson challenges the rhetoric of museum repatriation, arguing that, while it has been tremendously important to advancing Indigenous interest, it is too often over-simplified.
Repatriation of Indigenous Cultural Heritage offers a timely, critical perspective on current museum practice and its place within processes of cultural production and transmission. The book is sure to resonate in other international contexts where questions about Indigenous re-engagement and decolonisation strategies are being debated and will be of interest to students and scholars of Museum Studies, Indigenous Studies and Anthropology.