When Records Speak We Listen: Conversations with the Archive

Natalie Harkin, Jeanine Leane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper reflects a conversation between two Aboriginal women poets and
scholars from unique Wiradjuri and Narungga standpoints, as we enter the
colonial archive via those cast iron gates swung open on rusty hinges. We seek
beginnings to stories from different places and points in history; un-ending sto-
ries that are embodied and lived, and also ‘officially’ traced via the state’s legal
archive. We consider what happens when the archive box is opened, when
records speak and are heard for the first time. We consider what the archive
means to us and how we define it, recognise it, live with it and use it. We
share insights on the potential and possibility of poetry as an affective-tool and
literary-intervention; our way to actively transform out from the archive-box
and rupture the ongoing violence of the colonial archive. Our past methods
and praxis are located on unique interventionist continuums that shape our
current research: Aboriginal women’s labour stories, the Queensland literary
Unaipon Award stories and storytelling as a living archive. We recognise each
other’s stories here, despite our cultural, spatial and temporal differences. Our
Grandmothers, from forever away and not so long ago, have invited them-
selves once again to join us. This is a sovereign-woman conversation, devoid
of any colonial filter that might read us in ways we do not intend; a contem-
plation on history, poetry and our relationship with the state’s gendered and
racialised colonial archive. The gates will be open when we leave, swinging on
rusty hinges, and we invite you to follow.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw's Documents
Subtitle of host publicationAuthority, Materiality, Aesthetics
EditorsKatherine Biber, Trish Luker, Priya Devii Vaughan
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781003247593
ISBN (Print)9780367441517, 9781032162218
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameGlasshouse Series


  • Aboriginal women
  • indigenous poetry
  • Wiradjuri
  • Narungga
  • colonial archive
  • records


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