Engaging with history by performing tradition: the poetic politics of Indigenous Australian festivals

Henry, Rosita (2008) Engaging with history by performing tradition: the poetic politics of Indigenous Australian festivals. In: Kapferer, Judith, (ed.) The State and the Arts: articulating power and subversion. Berghahn Books, New York, USA, pp. 52-69.

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Festivals and other public events that feature indigenous dance performances are a burgeoning phenomenon, both in Australia and in the international arena. My aim here is to trace the field of power relations in which such festivals are embedded and within which they are constituted. Festivals make for fascinating study because they present spatially and temporally contained domains in which the performative aspects of human social relations and sensual embodied expressions of social practice can be directly observed and experienced. Yet festivals are only apparently contained events. Although participants are meant to experience a festival for the term of its duration as a whole self-contained world, it is only a partial world. Boundaries between a particular festival event and the social order are highly permeable. Festival performances reach out beyond the festivals into the everyday world, and they can be fully understood only with reference to wider social situations and the political, economic, and social interests and state processes and practices that, in fact, produce them. In addition, the state deceptively asserts its presence within the festivals. Indeed, agents and agencies of the state colonize the festivals, so that the festivals become prime sites for recognition of the "effects" of the state (Trauillat 2001: 126).

Item ID: 7485
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-84545-578-1
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This work was also published as: Henry, Rosita (2014) Engaging with History by Performing Tradition: the Poetic Politics of Indigenous Australian Festivals. Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement, 21 (1).

Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2009 01:33
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 100%
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