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Performing Place, Practising Memories

Performing Place, Practising Memories: Aboriginal Australians, Hippies and the State

Rosita Henry
Series: Space and Place
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Performing Place, Practising Memories
    Book Description:

    During the 1970s a wave of 'counter-culture' people moved into rural communities in many parts of Australia. This study focuses in particular on the town of Kuranda in North Queensland and the relationship between the settlers and the local Aboriginal population, concentrating on a number of linked social dramas that portrayed the use of both public and private space. Through their public performances and in their everyday spatial encounters, these people resisted the bureaucratic state but, in the process, they also contributed to the cultivation and propagation of state effects.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-509-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Performing Arts, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Maps
    (pp. vi-vii)
    (pp. viii-ix)
    Rosita Henry
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. Introducing Place: Fieldwork and Framework
    (pp. 1-29)

    ‘Meet me at the bottom pub’. It was 1993 and I had telephoned to arrange a meeting to discuss my research proposal with a person from the Kuranda community. I had been advised by other townspeople to talk to her, as she had a degree in anthropology and was said to know something about the Aboriginal people of the area. I was keenly aware of the phenomenon of the ‘white broker’ as described by Collmann (1988) and that there were many such brokers in Kuranda: non-Aboriginal people who competitively defined their own identities according to the relative length and depth...

  7. Chapter 1 Colonising Place: The Mutilation of Memory
    (pp. 30-75)

    Memory is usually thought of as having to do with the temporality of mind (Halbwachs 1992; Douglas 1995) rather than with the materiality and corporeality of place. Yet as Casey argues:

    [Memory] is the stabilizing persistence of place as a container of experiences that contributes so powerfully to its intrinsic memorability. An alert and alive memory connects spontaneously with place, finding in it features that favour and parallel its own activities. We might even say that memory is naturally place-oriented or at least place-supported … Unlike site and time, memory does not thrive on the indifferently dispersed. It thrives, rather,...

  8. Chapter 2 Countering Place: Hippies, Hairies and ‘Enacted Utopia’
    (pp. 76-110)

    During the 1970s, just ten years after they were ‘evicted’ from the Mona Mona mission, Aboriginal people in the Kuranda area were confronted by a sudden influx of new settlers. In this chapter, I examine the history of arrival of the so-called ‘hippies’ and ‘alternative lifestylers’ in the Kuranda area, their practices of place making and their desire to recreate Kuranda as ‘a kind of effectively enacted utopia’ (Foucault 1986: 24). I refer to Foucault’s concept of heterotopia not simply because it captures the image of Kuranda as a polysemous place of contested identities – an image held by Kuranda people...

  9. Chapter 3 Performing Place: Amphitheatre Dramas
    (pp. 111-139)

    Social conflict in Kuranda tends to focus around particular places that are classed as common property by the townspeople. Several of these places were created by the new settlers. In this chapter, I focus on the Kuranda Amphitheatre and the performances staged therein.¹ This is the first of five chapters that analyse the conflicts associated with particular public places in Kuranda and that uncover the politics of the relationships between people and place. From its initial conception to its ongoing construction and use, the Kuranda Amphitheatre can be best understood, I suggest, not merely as a venue for performances but...

  10. Chapter 4 Commodifying Place: The Metamorphosis of the Markets
    (pp. 140-158)

    The marketplace and the main street are another two hot spots of social conflict in Kuranda. In this chapter, I trace the metamorphosis of what began as a periodic community market for locals into a permanent tourist attraction in the town. In the next chapter, I consider the social dramas associated with the transformation of the main street of the town in the face of the increasing impact of tourism during the 1980s and 1990s.

    While the 1970s, settlers were sometimes credited with having fostered the creation of the tourist industry in Kuranda, it is important to note that the...

  11. Chapter 5 Planning Place: Main Street Blues
    (pp. 159-180)

    The Kuranda markets were a key force in building the reputation of the town as a tourist destination. They served as a good training ground for a number of the shopkeepers in the main street today who originally began as stallholders in the marketplace. The markets provided the impetus for some of the 1970s settlers to establish businesses that catered for the tourists, and a new wave of settlers inundated the town during the 1980s and 1990s in the wake of the burgeoning tourist industry. At the same time, concern grew among Kuranda people about their apparent powerlessness in the...

  12. Chapter 6 Dancing Place: Cultural Renaissance and Tjapukai Theatre
    (pp. 181-216)

    While the hippies and other new townspeople were busily burrowing into Kuranda – establishing the markets, creating the amphitheatre, battling against the Shire Council and blueing over the main street – Aboriginal people had begun to reassert their own identity in place through a cultural renaissance. The rapid transformation of Kuranda in the wake of the emplacement practices of the new wave of settlers and the subsequent rise in tourism had a dramatic impact on practices of sociality among Aboriginal people. During the 1980s, just twenty years after the Mona Mona mission had closed, a younger generation of Aboriginal people began to...

  13. Chapter 7 Protesting Place: Environmentalists, Aboriginal People and the Skyrail
    (pp. 217-238)

    Between 1993 and 1995, a tourist development project – a passenger cable car through the mountain range from Cairns to Kuranda – became a hot political issue. As with the markets, the main street, the amphitheatre and Tjapukai, the development generated intense social dramas in the town. The resonses of the local community to the construction of this cable car that passed through the Barron Gorge National Park and the newly listed Wet Tropics World Heritage Area were varied, but quickly became polarised. The cable car development, which was officially opened on 1 September 1995 under the name of ‘Skyrail’, became a...

  14. Chapter 8 Creating Place: The Production of a Space for Difference
    (pp. 239-249)

    This study of a small Australian town has grounded theoretical discussions about place, identity, the state, and the relationship between local and global forces in the actualities of human experience. This is not an account of an Indigenous ‘Other’ or of cultural differences as given, but a study of how such differences are both generated and effaced within and in relation to a transforming state system. I have shown how both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Kuranda place themselves and one another in the world via a politics of identity that expresses itself in social dramas that break out with...

    (pp. 250-265)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 266-275)