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Agency and Authority in Intangible Cultural Heritage [ICH]

Brye Marshall (Private Archaeologist, Adelaide, Australia)
Julie Nichols (University of South Australia, Australia)


This opinion piece by Brye Marshall, an Aboriginal archaeologist, and Julie Nichols, an academic in architecture and digital humanities, explores the agency and authority of intangible cultural heritage [ICH], particularly from a First Nations’ perspective.

They consider how ICH is defined, valued, and supported within contemporary cultural institutions like galleries, libraries, archives, and museums [GLAM], which are custodians of Australian cultural heritage. The piece discusses the challenges of recording Indigenous arts and knowledge outside of Indigenous communities, without recognition or benefits to Indigenous people. The discussion extends to the Western-centric definition of cultural heritage and its limitation in recognising Indigenous world views. The authors acknowledge ongoing debates around best practice in acknowledging Indigenous knowledge and narratives in historical records.

This chapter concludes that redefining ICH from Indigenous perspectives could empower communities, redefine heritage definitions, and contribute to global conversations about heritage, climate change, urban development, and connection to land.



Marshall, B. and Nichols, J. (2024), "Agency and Authority in Intangible Cultural Heritage [ICH]", Nichols, J. and Mehra, B. (Ed.) Data Curation and Information Systems Design from Australasia: Implications for Cataloguing of Vernacular Knowledge in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 54), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 217-223.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024 Brye Marshall and Julie Nichols