Weaving the Colonial Archive: A Basket to Lighten the Load

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Archival-poetics is an active, embodied reckoning with history and the violence of the colonial archive, particularly South Australia’s Aboriginal records. Family records at the heart of this work trigger questions about surveillance, representation and agency, bearing witness to the state’s archivisation processes and the revelation of what is both absent and present on the record. Emotion and intuition compel such archival-intimacy, particularly when reckoning with traumatic, contested and buried episodes of history that inevitably return to haunt. As my research progressed, I unintentionally re-created and became stuck in the very thing I was interrogating: the archive box. The only way to unbind myself was to write poetry and weave my way out, which grounded this archival-poetics in unanticipated ways. This article will explore the process of weaving with my nanna’s and great-grandmother's handwritten letters, as both conceptual metaphor and as literal, cultural practice. As a creative arts praxis, it will also discuss the transformative effect and decolonising potential of weaving archives into something beautiful and honouring, to offer new narratives of history for the future record. A Ngarrindjeri basket can hold many stories. This is one of them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2020


  • Archival-poetics
  • Aboriginal history
  • colonial archives
  • decolonisation
  • Aboriginal Women
  • Aboriginal women


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