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Issue 21.3, August 2006


Essay Excerpt

"Indigenous people around the world have used the contemporary convergence of a global tourist market, increasingly available recording technologies, and ambivalent national desires for reconciliation to repackage their traditional cultural knowledge. This article examines the production and circulation of an internationally available compact disc containing Warumungu women’s dreaming songs. Tracking its production, circulation, and ongoing insertion into cultural negotiations, I explore the contours of cultural change through simultaneously commercial and traditional practices. In a nation that claims self-determination for its Aboriginal population, Australian national sentiments and Aboriginal cultural mandates are not separate. Recent land rights movements, political moves for cultural autonomy, and continuing political marginalization are not just the backdrop for the compact disc’s production but part of the impetus for its existence. As Warumungu women consciously repackaged their ancestral song tracks into the compact disc’s tracks, they did so in ways that connect their abiding traditions and their uncertain future through “proper” (jurrkkul) cultural actions."

"Tracking Properness: Repackaging Culture in a Remote Australian Town," Kimberly Christen