“Giving it back”

The philosophy of our virtual shed is to make anthropological information available in a clear, easy-to-read style and to give the reader awareness that anthropology is the study of us all. It can really make a difference when we develop an understanding of other people’s cultures and traditions.

Our shed, like other anthropologists’ sheds, is filled to the brim with field notes, reports, photographs, videos, half-finished manuscripts and a varied assortment of miscellaneous anthropological ‘bits and pieces.’  What we are trying to do at the shed website is to bring together this information in an easy to read and thought-provoking way.  So much anthropological fieldwork ends up in anthropologists’ notebooks locked away in their sheds and lost to the world forever. We believe that anthropologists, many of whom make a living and reputation from the collection of information from indigenous people, have a moral obligation to interpret this in a culturally sensitive and informative manner and return it to the source from where it came.  Much valuable ethnographic information becomes “lost” to the world, especially from traditionally oral cultures like those of Aboriginal Australia.  

Our philosophy of ‘giving it back’ came from a conversation we had with the late Noongar spokesman and activist Mr Clarrie Isaacs, who, after petitioning the United Nations on the poor treatment of Aboriginal people and their cultural heritage rights, suggested that the only way to change things was to make people all over the world aware ofAustralian indigenous culture. He said anthropologists should be the “frontline” of this awareness campaign making the data which they collect from indigenous people freely available in an easy-to-communicate manner.  

We ask other anthropologists to help by making their data easy-to-read and freely available for the purpose of progressing our collective knowledge and understanding of one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world.

The aim of anthropologyfromtheshed.com is to give information back to those who originally gave it to us in a culturally sensitive manner.