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Humanist Archives: May 30, 2020, 7:11 a.m. Humanist 34.73 - the Time Layered Cultural Map

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 73.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-05-29 13:15:43+00:00
        From: Benjamin Vis 
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 34.69: the Time Layered Cultural Map: an imperative reminder

Dear Bill,

While I didn't know about Juukan Gorge and its significance, this sort of news
is immensely saddening, as it shows a general lack of respect and failing
mechanisms to both determine and protect things with societal value. It seems to
me that, as you suggest, failing to include such sites on maps may well
contribute to the ignorance and lack of care. Care starts with awareness and
knowledge after all. At the same time, at least in other parts of the world,
there is also concern about placing archaeological sites with precision on maps
for fear of looting. Considering the enormous economic reliance on natural
resources in Australia, I'm sceptical about this being preventable at all, but
hopefully occurrences like this will increase awareness and contribute to an
attitude shift.

All the best,

|| Dr Benjamin N. Vis | Co-Investigator ComparT Project | Centre of African
Studies | Department of Middle Eastern Studies | University of West Bohemia |
Czech Republic ||
Academia.edu (for publications and talks)
Cities Made of Boundaries: Mapping social life in urban form (UCL Press, 2018)
Dust to Dust: Redesigning urban life in healthy soils
Assembly for Comparative Urbanisation and the Material Environment (ACUMEN)

From: Humanist
Sent: 29 May 2020 09:08
To: publish-liv@humanist.kdl.kcl.ac.uk
Subject: [Humanist] 34.69: the Time Layered Cultural Map: an imperative reminder

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 69.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-05-29 01:25:41+00:00
        From: William Pascoe 
        Subject: Juukan Gorge

Dear readers,

Juukan Gorge, a sacred site occupied for 46,000 years, has just been blown up.
An archaeological find of a 4000 year old braided hair shows direct connection
to Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people of today, for whom it is sacred and
who carry on some of the longest living traditions of the world. Such a
significant site is important to all of us, and to any human for as long as
there are people. Juukan Gorge was blown up by mining company Rio Tinto, with
the full consent of the government.

To try to translate what this means, we wouldn't blow up Notre-Dame, the
Forbidden City, or the Taj Mahal just to get some iron ore. To think of these
sacred places as no more than a cave or a mountain is like saying St Peters in
Rome, Al-Haram Mosque at Mecca or the Golden Temple are just piles of bricks. We
are quick to condemn the Taliban blowing up the Bamyan Buddhas or ISIS defacing
reliefs and statues in Iraq but this is no better.

This is only one among many such incidents. In the town I live, a few years ago
a building excavation uncovered thousands of artifacts but archaeologists had
only two weeks to excavate before a Kentucky Fried Chicken was built over it.
This travesty did lead to some improvements in legislation but clearly not
nearly enough.

I mention this here not only because this sort of thing cannot be allowed to
pass unnoticed but because it is a palpable reminder of why I am working on the
DH project I'm on at the moment, TLCMap (Time Layered Cultural Map). It's a
reminder of why digital humanities projects matter and how they can work across
personal and public levels. I grew up not knowing there was a ceremonial bora
ring at the end of my street. I didn't hear about Cherbourg, QLD and Palm Island
until I went to Uni. I didn't know what 'dog licences' were until only last
year, yet I'm in the same room as people who had to live with them. These are
things I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit. These things should be common
knowledge, but when I ask around, like me, most people remain unaware of our own
history and the meaning of the places we live. Many Australians have Aboriginal
ancestors without knowing it. Some are let in on this secret 'when we are old
enough'. Nobody explained we are here with this DNA because of government
eugenics policies. Such things are hard to believe and some remain in denial.

Our children still think Australian history is boring because nothing much
happened. Yet when asked, they haven't even heard of the world heritage site
only an hour away, let alone understand the subtle interplay of layers of law,
literature, mythology, navigation, and astronomy there, or appreciate how the
pathos and nuance of a story is amplified as you learn to read it in the
mountains and rivers themselves (it's like the difference between saying "It's
story about two people who fall in love but their families are enemies so they
kill themselves." and the full performance beginning "Two households, both alike
in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...").

It is all there, and some know it well, but too many are unaware. I doubt if any
other country is as ignorant of what is most valuable to it as Australia.

The destruction of Juukan Gorge is another reminder that this history of erasure
and survival continues to this day. It is a long history of 200 years, but also
brief compared to 46,000. There are changes to celebrate, such as the
restoration of the Bunya festival after a hundred year lacuna, but there is a
long way to go.

This is why, so many years ago with the germ of an idea, it seemed important to
add layers of culture to maps and make them easy for people to add to and find.
TLCMap is a platform for culture and Australia generally but I have learned a
great deal about how to do this from indigenous 'deep mapping' techniques. There
have been many setbacks, not least the Coronavirus, our much needed upgrades are
delayed, and it remains to be seen how useful it will be, but this is a palpable
reminder of why we do what we do. Compared to the struggle of Puutu Kunti
Kurrama and Pinikura people on the other side of the continent, what I do here
in my bedroom on a computer is a small thing, but it's something, and the least
we can all do, a first step, is be aware. What we aren't taught we must teach

The place names Juukan and Purlykunti Creek aren't on common maps or in
gazetteers but the site is within Rio Tinto's $1.5bn Brockman 4 iron ore mining
site which covers 80,000km², about the same size as Scotland. I can't say
precisely where Juukan Gorge is but it's in this vicinity:

Some References:
Fullagar, Melanie & Fillios, Richard 'Aboriginal Settlement during the LGM at
Brockman, Pilbara Region, Western Australia' Dec 2009
'Rio Tinto just blasted away an ancient Aboriginal site. Here’s why that was
allowed' SBS News: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/rio-tinto-just-blasted-away-an-
'Rio Tinto blasts 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site to expand iron ore mine' The
Guardian, Australia: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/26/rio-
'Rio Tinto Brockman 4 Iron Ore Mine, Pilbara' https://www.mining-
6500 Year Old Heritage Junked, Newcastle Herald,
'Submission No 151 Inquiry Into Planning Process In Newcastle And The Broader
Hunter Region' https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/46977/0151%2


Bill Pascoe,
writing in Awabakal country.

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