Singing the possum skin cloak: Connecting Childhood and Culture

‘Singing the possum skin cloak’

Connecting Childhood and Culture: Implications of the Repatriation of Archival Recordings for Children and Young People

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Development Grant

University of Melbourne leads – Tiriki Onus and Sally Treloyn; Project lead – Associate Professor Andrea Emberly (York University, Canada) 

Connecting Culture and Childhood is a two-year SSHRC-funded project that leverages a cross-cultural partnership between archives, academic institutions, researchers, and communities, to investigate the implications of the repatriation of archival recordings for children and young people. In response to the critical endangerment of intangible cultural heritage around the world, ethnomusicologists have utilized repatriation as a methodology for sustaining and reviving musical traditions. The assumption underpinning this response is the notion that access to archival recordings supports the transmission of musical knowledge from adults to children and young people. This assumption has both motivated and informed methods of repatriation, the most common being the use of repatriated materials to create teaching and learning materials for children and young people in communities of origin.

To date, the effectiveness and implications of this approach to repatriation for children and young people are unexamined. This is the first project to examine: how children and young people engage with repatriated materials; how teaching and learning materials incorporate and mobilize repatriated recordings; the extent to which repatriated recordings and teaching materials are used and usable in/by children and young people; how new methodological and theoretical approaches to repatriation support access, engagement and use by children and young people; and, the extent to which varying methods and approaches to repatriation support the sustainment of musical cultures amongst communities of children and young people.

Tiriki Onus blows handprints on the CCCP canvas with Ninda Onus (top) and Diane Thramm (bottom left) and Pat Campbell (bottom right) at York University, 17 June 2018. Photo by Sally Treloyn. Not for reproduction.