COMPTE-RENDU : « Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People », illustré par Michel Streich, 2009

Référence : «Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People», Illustrated by Michel StreichAllen & Unwin, 2009

Compte-rendu reproduit avec l’autorisation de l’auteur : Lawrence Bamblett <Lawrence.bamblett@aiatsis.gov.au>, paru dans la revue Australian Aboriginal Studies 2011/1

Pour voir quelques extraits du livre sur Google books, cliquer ici

« Michel Streich is pioneering the coffee table human rights handbook genre. His illustrated Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a follow up to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights published in 2008. Neither book is exactly like anything I have seen before, which made it hard to place at first. At a stretch, they can be compared to Dave Zirin’s Muhammad Ali Handbook (2007), or Hana Ali’s (2000) handbook about her legendary father Muhammad’s famous words. They are all collectable books that add images to text with the aim of representing complex topics to a broader audience.

After reading reviews by teachers for Streich’s book (Hammad et al. n.d.), it is apparent that it compares to Aboriginal Studies Press’ The Little Red Yellow Black Book (AIATSIS and Pascoe 2009) in the way they present information. A teacher recently commented to me that she loved The Little Red Yellow Black Book because it gives students information in ways that match their attention spans. This is something that Streich’s handbook also does well. Just as important as packaging information to suit the attention span of the intended audience is allowing the reader the freedom to think, and this is another strength.

 The book is structured by the 46 Articles of the Declaration. There is a preface, a proclamation by the United Nations about the Declaration being ‘a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect’. This book does not have page numbers. The quote above is taken from the twenty-sixth paragraph of a declaration on the rights of Indigenous people that comes before the 46 articles. Then, each Article and an accompanying illustration are included as a double-page spread. I noticed the illustrations encourage the reader to spend more time on each page working out the connection between the artwork and the particular Article.

 Fundamentally about human rights, the book should therefore be of interest to everyone. However, the key information it contains (the 46 Articles of the Declaration) is available free online and so who should this book be recommended to? I chose to review it because it was an easily accessible version of the important human rights document and I picked it up when I was looking at the Articles of the Declaration online. Having them in a small, packaged format appealed to me.

 The preface is written by Patrick Dodson, who provides a national context about reconciliation, with a reference to ‘forward thinking’. While Dodson does not say so, it could be that with ‘forward thinking’ in mind, his endorsement is a hint that an illustrated edition is aimed at a young audience. The publisher supports the book on its website with reviews by teachers, which include some description of how it may be used in the classroom. This is where Streich’s  simple enhancement of the Declaration can potentially shine. The Articles are not weighed down by too much discussion. Only Dodson’s to-the point preface stands between the student and the meat of the book. A skilled teacher could use this uncluttered format (the pages are sparse) to motivate students and foster discussion, making the Articles accessible to students in ways that heavy text might discourage.

 Another strength of the book is that it looks so good. It doesn’t look out of place on a coffee table next to an iPod, MacBook or any of the other twenty-first century must-have gadgets. It makes what is not trendy almost trendy. It suits the modern world, which we are told is built around bite-sized pieces of sleek, packaged information. The images act as lures to get a new audience to read something that they might never imagine reading otherwise. Streich brings the political rhetoric of the United Nations to a wider, younger, image-conscious and in-a-hurry audience. It is for this reason that it is a success.

 There are no real weaknesses to the book. It does not put forward an argument. It is a simple repackaging of an important document. The need to create the Declaration itself (and sell it to people) is a paradox of human rights. This is not a weakness of the book but, instead, offers another possible discussion point for young people.

 Michael Streich’s illustrated Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not disappoint. It provides colour to the 46 Articles of the historic human rights Declaration. Streich’s artwork adds to the Articles by making them accessible to people who may not otherwise be motivated to read them ».

 Références :

AIATSIS and Bruce Pascoe, 2009, The Little Red Yellow Black Book: An introduction to Indigenous Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

Ali, Hana ,2000, More than a Hero: Muhammad Ali’s life lessons presented through his daughter’s eyes, Pocket Books, New York.

Hammad, Sharon, Pauline Dunn, Jill Richardson, and Carloyn Hicks, n.d. Reviews by teachers, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, <www.a l l enandu nwin. com/_uploads / Book Pdf /TeachersReview/9781741758450.pdf> accessed 1 June 2011.

Streich, Michel, 2008, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

Zirin, Dave, 2007, Muhammad Ali Handbook, MQ Publications.

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