The Australian Journal
of Anthropology

The Official Journal of
The Australian Anthropological Society

ISSN: 1035-8811

Volume 15, Number 2, August 2004


Guardians of Culture: The Controversial Heritage of Senegalese Griots
Adrian Hearn
The low-caste Griots of Senegal’s Wolof community, traditionally employed as singers of histories and praises, earn their keep today by playing sabar drums at private women’s dance parties. Although these gatherings are publicly scorned for the sexually expressive dances they involve, they are nevertheless immensely popular behind closed doors. Many Griot drummers justify their participation in sabar performances by linking the activity with the work of their historically marginalised ancestors, though this connection is disputed by elderly Griots, who view it as departure from their occupational tradition. While sabar is criticised for subverting both Griot heritage and public standards of decency, the ethnographic data suggest that it nevertheless reproduces traditional patronage relationships based on the interdependence and mutual benefit of the low-status (caste) and high-status (noble) sectors. Research is based on eleven months of participant observation in Senegal in 1996 and 1997, during which time the author trained as a sabar drummer in Dakar and Saint-Louis.
What’s in a Dedication? On Being a Warlpiri DJ
Melinda Hinkson
This article reports on the operation of the Pintupi Anmatyerre Warlpiri radio network, established by the Warlpiri Media Association in the north-west of Central Australia in late 2001. It traces the history out of which the network emerged and considers the distinctive approach taken to broadcasting by a group of young Warlpiri women. In exploring the on-air invocation of particular forms of social relations, I argue that radio has come to play an important role in facilitating expressions of Warlpiri sociality across an expanding social field. At once a driver of social transformation and the transcendence of localism, as well as the glue that might bind people to each other in a changing world, the activity occurring around the Warlpiri Media Association provides a window onto the multiple challenges and choices faced by Warlpiri people in the present. This article is most particularly interested in how Warlpiri youth are negotiating these challenges and choices. The final section considers whether this new radio network might be understood in terms of the emergence of a new public sphere.
The Sentimental Community: A Site of Belonging. A Case Study from Central Australia.
Sarah Holcombe
The concept of ‘community’ has a deep genealogy, extending from the classical social science literature of the nineteenth century to its wide and confused employment in policy contexts and textual analyses discourses. This paper will focus on one aspect of a community whose lineage extends theoretically from the communal concept of a ‘consciousness of kind’. In the desert community of Mount Liebig, known locally as Amunturrngu, the sentimentalised elements of this shared consciousness have evolved from principles of land tenure that have adapted to the newly settled environment. These sentimental signifiers are drawn from the country on which this community developed and the constructions of place that settlement has actively encouraged. To this end the concepts of reterritorialisation and religious egalitarianism will be explored, principally through the medium of inma kuwarritja (new ritual) in order to analyse how people affiliate with and embody a reterritorialised identity through the traditional imagination. How does this embodiment of country affect the settlement process, whereby a community is constructed?
Memes and Metaculture: The Politics of Discourse Circulation in Fiji
Matt Tomlinson
To address the question of what makes cultural products circulate successfully or unsuccessfully, I use the analytical tools supplied by two emerging disciplines, memetics and the study of metaculture. The case that I examine is the widespread circulation of the phrase ‘failed businessman’ to describe the leader of Fiji’s coup d’état in 2000. In analysing the ways that the phrase circulated globally in international news accounts (and the pages of this journal as well), but did not circulate well within Fiji itself, I argue that the concept of ‘metaculture’ gives us more sophisticated analytical tools and a fuller, richer sense of the dynamics of cultural circulation than memetics does.
Can a ‘Silent’ Person be a ‘Business’ Person? The Concept ‘mãduã’ in Fijian Culture
Solrun Williksen-Bakker
The focus of the paper is an examination of the relevance of the traditional concept mãduã for an understanding of Fijian culture, particularly in the context of modern business enterprise. The concept represents a multitude of subtle as well as clearly displayed emotions and attitudes. Though mãduã is especially relevant in situations where Fijian values are centre stage, the view put forward here is that the associated expressions and bodily postures are also relevant in modern urban contexts, where perhaps one might otherwise expect them to be discarded or at least toned down. In public discourse in Fiji, where the theme of Fijian participation in both education and business is constantly commented on and discussed, a new notion is identified, namely ‘silence’. The author suggests that it may to some degree replace and encompass mãduã. The prime concern of the article, however, is to bring to the fore reflections by Fijians themselves on existential dilemmas, one of which is about how to live with mãduã in the modern context.
Book Review Essays
Diane Austin-Broos. Anthropology and Indigenous Alterity. Review of Elizabeth Povinelli. The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.
Grant Evans. Rationality Run Amok. Review of Steven Pinker. The Blank Slate: The Denial of Human Nature. New York, N. Y.: Viking Press, 2002 and Melvin Konner. The Tangled Wing: Constraints on the Human Spirit. New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt and Company. 2002.
Aram Yengoyan. The Geist of Modern Anthropology. Review of John H. Zammito. Kant, Herder and the Birth of Anthropology. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press. 2002, and Andrew Zimmerman. Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany. Chicago Ill.: The University of Chicago Press. 2001
Book Reviews
Lissant Bolton Unfolding the Moon: Enacting Women’s Kastom’ in Vanuatu [Kerry James]
Rebecca Cassidy The Sport of Kings: Kinship, Class and Thoroughbred Breeding in Newcastle [Koenraad Kuiper]
Kate Fox The Racing Tribe: Watching the Horse Watchers [Koenraad Kuiper]
Robert J. Foster Materializing the Nation: Commodities, Consumption and Media in Papua New Guinea [Michael Goddard]
Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod and Brian Larkin (eds) Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain [Jennifer Deger]
Leo Howe Hinduism and Hierarchy in Bali [Thomas Reuter]
Bruce M. Knauft Exchanging the Past: A Rainforest World of Before and After [Deborah Van Heekeren]
Linda Sue Lewis Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Backat the 1980 Kwangju Uprising [Kirsten Bell]
Vicki Lukere and Margaret Jolly (eds) Birthing in the Pacific: Beyond Tradition and Modernity? [Ruth Fitzgerald]
Julie Marcus The Indomitable Miss Pink: A Life in Anthropology [Ruth Fink Latukefu]
David McKnight From Hunting to Drinking: The Devastating Effects of Alcohol on an Australian Aboriginal Community [Lee Sackett]
Annemarie Mol The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice [Dorothy H. Broom]
Raul Pertierra, Eduardo F. Ugarte, Alicia Pingol, Joel Hernandez and Lexis Dacanay Txting Selves: Cellphones and Philippine Modernity [Lenore Manderson]
Urs Ramseyer The Art and Culture of Bali [Graeme MacRae]
Urs Ramseyer and I. Gusti Panji Tisna (eds) Worlds: A Critical Self-Portrait [Graeme MacRae]
Anthony Siaguru In-house in Papua New Guinea [Michael Goddard]
Peggy Reeves Sanday Women at the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy [Maila Stivens]
Neil L. Whitehead Dark Shamans: Kanaima and the Poetics of Violent Death [Zelko Jokic]


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