Om at dele julens ånd [Sharing Christmas Spirit]

Deger, Jennifer (2014) Om at dele julens ånd [Sharing Christmas Spirit]. In: Høiris, Ole, Otto, Ton, and Bonde Rolsted, Ane, (eds.) De Dødes Liv. Moesgaard Museum and Aarhus Universitetsforlag, Denmark, pp. 72-78.

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Abstract

[Extract in Danish]: Hver gang Paul Gurrumuruwuy taler offentligt om videoprojektet Jule-birrimbirr, fremhæver han lidenskabeligt 'de gamles' vedvarende magt. Her taler Gurrumuruwuy ikke om ældre medborgere. Selv om hans familie ofte tiltaler ham som wolman, 'gamle mand; så bruger han betegnelsen 'de gamle' om sine forfædre - om sin far, sin farfar og så videre, tilbage gennem de utallige forudgående generationer. Deres ånder lever i Dhalwangu-klanens søer i de fjerne nordlige egne af det tropiske Australien.

Abstract (English): This essay discusses the responsibilities of the living—those who call themselves the 'new generations'—bear for renewing ancestral power through their own creative, intellectual and emotional efforts. With themes that explicitly link Christian and Indigenous ritual practices, Christmas Birrimbirr directly addresses contemporary Yolngu concerns about intergenerational change as well as the challenges of forging new and meaningful connections between cultures. It discusses Christmas Birrimbirr as a powerful example of exactly this kind of work. It highlights the Yolngu genius for innovation and incorporation; the ways that Yolngu adapt new forms and technologies to the work of producing charged social experiences of resonance across time and space.

Research Statement

Research Background Current international developments in visual anthropology highlight a great potential to expand the field and its impact by experimenting with new forms of sensuous practice, art-as-ethnography and creative social engagement. Yet the question of how research might cast new light on specific cultural and historical imaginaries as they engage anthropologists and new media has been largely overlooked.
Research Contribution The essay Om at dele julens ånd provides a poetically attuned case study of a ground-breaking anthropological collaboration and creative process. The research shows how the exhibition under examination is not simply an about the place of the dead in Arnhem Land but rather, in a radical reorientation of institutional agency, uses new media to performatively recall and re-presence Yolngu spirits with the expectation that the museum visitors will thereby connect their own family—and be transformed in the process.
Research Significance The significance of this research is that it offers unique reappraisal of the aesthetic potential of anthropology as creative collaborative process as part of a landmark international ethnographic exhibition. The essay was commissioned for publication to mark the opening of the 'Life of the Dead' exhibition at the Moesgaard Museum, Denmark (an ethnographic exhibition featuring a major installation of Deger's work with Miyarrka Media). Since its official opening by the Queen Margrethe II in 2012, the museum has become one of Denmark's premiere cultural attractions, with the ethnographic exhibition attracting more than 100 000 visitors.
Item ID: 37299
Item Type: Book Chapter (Creative Work)
ISBN: 978-87-7124-358-1
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 02:03
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 40%
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