Songlines: Power and Promise

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Songlines are an archive for powerful knowledges that ensured Australia’s many Aboriginal cultures flourished for over 60,000 years. Much more than a navigational path in the cartographic sense, these vast and robust stores of information are encoded through song, story, dance, art and ceremony, rather than simply recorded in writing.

Weaving deeply personal storytelling with extensive research on mnemonics, Songlines: The Power and Promise offers unique insights into Aboriginal traditional knowledges, how they apply today and how they could help all peoples thrive into the future. This book invites readers to understand a remarkable way for storing knowledge in memory by adapting song, art, and most importantly, Country, into their lives.

About the authors

Margo Neale is the head of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges, senior Aboriginal curator, and principal adviser to the director of the National Museum of Australia (NMA). She is also an adjunct professor at the Australian National University and has authored or edited eleven books, including the Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture. She has curated groundbreaking, award-winning national and international exhibitions.

Lynne Kelly is a science writer working as an honorary research associate at La Trobe University. Her field of research is the memory methods used by those who depended on their memories for everything they knew: oral cultures including Australian Aboriginal, Native American, Pacific and African cultures.

About the First Knowledges series

The First Knowledges series offers an introduction to First Nations knowledges in vital areas and their application to the present day and the future. Exploring practices such as architecture and design, land management, botany, astronomy and innovation, this six-book series brings together two very different ways

What do you need to know to prosper as a people for at least 65,000 years? The First Knowledges series provides a deeper understanding of the expertise and ingenuity of Australian First Nations peoples. of understanding the natural world: one ancient, the other modern. The third book focuses on land and fire management.

The titles in the series include:

  • Songlines by Margo Neale & Lynne Kelly (2020)
  • Design by Alison Page & Paul Memmott
  • Country by Bill Gammage & Bruce Pascoe (2021)
  • Plants by Zena Cumpston, Michael Fletcher & Lesley Head (2022)
  • Astronomy (2022)
  • Innovation (2023)

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, Songlines: Power and Promise, <>, retrieved 19 June 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

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