Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Circulating Cultures

Circulating Cultures

Edited by Amanda Harris
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Circulating Cultures
    Book Description:

    Circulating Cultures is an edited book about the transformation of cultural materials through the Australian landscape. The book explores cultural circulation, exchange and transit, through events such as the geographical movement of song series across the Kimberley and Arnhem Land; the transformation of Australian Aboriginal dance in the hands of an American choreographer; and the indigenisation of symbolic meanings in heavy metal music.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-21-6
    Subjects: Music, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1. Archival Objects and the Circulation of Culture
    (pp. 1-16)
    Amanda Harris

    Exchanges of cultural capital facilitated cross-cultural communication in a variety of Australian contexts, both before and after the arrival of Europeans in Australia at the end of the eighteenth century. In the absence of common languages on the colonial frontier, exchanges of music, dance, and painting can become tangible means of communication between people seeking to understand the culture of others. This book explores the circulation of ephemeral, physical and spiritual media across the lines that separate cultures from one another. Objects of cultural capital are transformed across landscapes and media through technology, people and their relationships with each other...

  5. Part 1: C. P. Mountford and the Circulation of Music, Dance and Film

    • 2. Beth Dean and the Transnational Circulation of Aboriginal Dance Culture: Gender, Authority and C. P. Mountford
      (pp. 19-44)
      Victoria Haskins

      One of the highlights of the young Queen Elizabeth II’s royal tour to Australia in 1954 was the command performance of an excerpt from the balletCorroboree. Based on Aboriginal dance steps and performed to Australian composer John Antill’s 1946 symphonic ballet of the same name, also inspired by Indigenous traditions, the ballet told the story of a young boy’s initiation into manhood. The lead role of the boy initiate was played by the choreographer, a dynamic American dancer, Beth Dean, performing in a nylon brown bodystocking and make-up mimicking ochre bodypainting, her hair pulled back in a chignon that...

    • 3. The Circle of Songs: Traditional Song and the Musical Score to C. P. Mountford’s Documentary Films
      (pp. 45-72)
      Anthony Linden Jones

      This chapter interrogates the process of incorporation of traditional Aboriginal song¹ into the context of musical underscore² for two documentary films using Western orchestral instrumentation. I contextualise these practices in the history of ethnographic film-making in Australia and contemporary film scoring practices up to the time of these films and examine the impact of the limitations of recording technology on film composers’ interpretation of the songs. By placing the scores in their historical and cultural context and employing a range of analytic tools, I aim to consider how these acts of appropriation of culturally significant artefacts might be understood today....

    • 4. Hearing Aboriginal Music Making in Non-Indigenous Accounts of the Bush from the Mid-Twentieth Century
      (pp. 73-98)
      Amanda Harris

      Mid-century non-Indigenous travellers in the Australian bush found themselves confronted with a new auditory world, one in which the sounds of the city were absent, and the sounds of the bush unfamiliar. The reckonings of these travellers with aural encounters of people, place and animals often came to stand for a complex set of reactions to being in the bush. The way they listened to Aboriginal music being sung and played around them crystallised perceptions held about Aboriginal people and how they might be located in the Australian landscape. How non-Indigenous authors heard and performed culturally familiar music also reflected...

  6. Part 2: Transformation and Repatriation

    • 5. Song as Artefact: The Reclaiming of Song Recordings Empowering Indigenous Stakeholders–and the Recordings Themselves
      (pp. 101-128)
      Genevieve Campbell

      The culture of the Tiwi Islands, northern Australia, has been the subject of much anthropological literature but none focuses on music. Since 2007 I have been working with senior Tiwi song-men and -women and studying contemporary Tiwi song culture in the context of the maintenance of traditions in the development of new music forms. In 2009 I was closely involved in the return to the Tiwi community of a large amount of ethnographic song material housed at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra. In this chapter I give an account of the process...

    • 6. Turning Subjects into Objects and Objects into Subjects: Collecting Human Remains on the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition
      (pp. 129-166)
      Martin Thomas

      He’s taking the bones now, taking the bones. He reaches into the hollow of a crevice; the rear of his trousers, protruding towards the camera, is stained with channels of sweat. Turning to face us, he unwraps a mandible from a blackened shred of rag. Bespectacled, and with lips pursed beneath a trim moustache, his officer’s deportment is upset by a slash of blue headband that gives him a piratical craziness. He adds the jaw to a wooden crate already full of arm and leg bones, butted up against a skull. The guts of this narrative—if ‘guts’ is quite...

  7. Part 3: Cultural Journeys in the Top End

    • 7. The Role of Songs in Connecting the Living and the Dead: A Funeral Ceremony for Nakodjok in Western Arnhem Land
      (pp. 169-202)
      Reuben Brown

      The family had waited a long time for this. Their father had passed away some six months earlier, in the middle of the wet season in the Top End of the Northern Territory, and his body had been held in a morgue in Katherine all this time. Now that the dry season had begun and the water levels along the rivers and flood plains had receded, some of the remote dirt roads through Arnhem Land were once again open. The family’s outstation on their ancestral Country at Mikkinj Valley was now accessible via a road that ran east from the...

    • 8. Cross and Square: Variegation in the Transmission of Songs and Musical Styles Between the Kimberley and Daly Regions of Northern Australia
      (pp. 203-238)
      Sally Treloyn

      Early in 2010 I heard for the first time a recording of a performance ofbalgasongs made in 1974 in Port Keats (Wadeye). Intrigued to hear this performance ofbalga— a dance-song genre championed by language groups of the Kimberley region, but here being sung by people some hundreds of kilometres away in the Daly region—I was immediately struck by two songs that were very similar to two songs in thebalgarepertory of the Ngarinyin/Wunambal composer Scotty Martin.¹ Some months later I had the opportunity to listen to the recording in the company of Martin and other...

    • 9. Listening to Heavy Metal in Wadeye
      (pp. 239-262)
      John Mansfield

      Most of the chapters in this volume examine how Aboriginal cultural artefacts have travelled outwards from their places of origin, being distributed, deployed or displaced in distant social contexts. This chapter treats the inverse situation: how a cultural product that has its origins in Europe and North America has been received and re-used in an Aboriginal town of tropical northern Australia. The cultural product in question is heavy metal—primarily a musical genre, which first emerged in Britain and the US in the 1980s, but also an associated array of images, texts and fashion statements.¹ The site of reception is...

  8. Index
    (pp. 263-268)