Editorial

By Ward, Graeme K. | Australian Aboriginal Studies, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Ward, Graeme K., Australian Aboriginal Studies


In this issue, the first for 2003, there are five major articles on a variety of topics, mainly social anthropological but including ethnomusicology and analysis of rock-paintings and -carvings.

Gillian Cowlishaw in her article has developed sustained arguments, initially in response to a widely-circulating commentary by another researcher, concerning contributions to the public debate about living conditions in some Indigenous Australian communities. It is sure to enliven discussion and raises fundamental questions about the contributions that anthropologists can make to such public debates and policy formulation. The Comment / Correspondence pages of our journal are open to considered discussion of these and other matters and we encourage submission of contributions to such debates.

French social anthropologist, Laurent Dousset, has contributed a critique of what he calls the 'genealogical concept' as part of a discussion of the Western notions of genealogy and kinship. Drawing upon his fieldwork in the Western Desert, he explores an alternative, use of Indigenous modes and iconographies for representing personal relationships that also involve conceptualisation of space, emphasising a link between individuals and places, and between inter-personal relationships and routes/ tracks.

Lloyd Graham, in browsing many published sources, re-visits the cultural and geomorphological histories of Wilkinkarra, a large salt lake in the Western Desert. He finds that Wilkinkarra is central to the tjukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives of the Pintupi and Kukatja, that there is a predominance of similarities across dialect groups in these histories, and that they can provide an overview of the origins of the lake, ones involving powerful Dreaming beings (and sexual jealousy) and country devastated by fire-storm. He approaches the possible origins of the various narrative elements, and discusses his survey of the published resources.

Steven Knopoff approaches questions of the value of the application of music analysis techniques to Indigenous Australian songs and performances, concluding that, despite the various restrictions, such analyses are providing useful insights into non-Western musics. He tackles the questions of emic and etic values in music analysis in approaching a truthful representation of Indigenous music, and the related question of ethical practice, whether it would be dishonest not to accept responsibility for one's analyses of Indigenous musics. His photograph of Larrtjannga Ganambarr in the early stages of making a didjeridu is on the front cover of this issue.

Long time site-recorder, ben Gunn, provides a detailed article on rock-markings and their relationship to the Arrernte cultural landscape. …

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