How we can better understand the conflict
between scientific and Indigenous knowledge?

For more than 60 years the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC had stolen ancestral remains in its collection. It was only recently that the bones were repatriated. This story kicks off our conversation for this event, which focuses on the roles of film, history and culture in advancing the repatriation debate.

There is ongoing tension around the world between Indigenous communities and the international museum sector. Museums have often been reluctant to return artefacts and human remains that have featured prominently in their collections or displays for decades.

Indigenous people argue that these items are ancestral remains that belong to them and should be brought home. Recently the Smithsonian Institution repatriated stolen ancestral remains, after having them on display for more than six decades.

The collection and exhibition of artefacts and human remains can be a painful reminder that colonialism is an ongoing presence, with a future as much as a history. As the Indigenous repatriation debate continues, film is a powerful tool for giving both sides an influential voice and building bridges on the road to respectful repatriation.

Etched in Bone is a film that explores the role of Aboriginal leadership in repatriating ancestral remains, and it places film documentary within the complexity of Indigenous knowledge, its preservation and its precariousness.

Join the filmmakers and academic experts for a discussion about museum collections, international repatriation, and the ethical complexities of their interaction.

This event was co-presented with United States Studies Centre and was held on Wednesday 10 April, 2019 at the University of Sydney.

Original interview:

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