Music, Dance and the Archive

Edited by Amanda Harris, Linda Barwick, and Jakelin Troy

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Format: paperback
206 pages
ISBN: 9781743328675
Publication: 01 Nov 2022
Series: Indigenous Music, Language and Performing Arts
Publisher: Sydney University Press

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Music, Dance and the Archive reimagines records of performance cultures from the archive through collaborative and creative research. In this edited volume, Amanda Harris, Linda Barwick and Jakelin Troy bring together performing artists, cultural leaders and interdisciplinary scholars to highlight the limits of archival records of music and dance. Through artistic methods drawn from Indigenous methodologies, dance studies and song practices, the contributors explore modes of re-embodying archival records, renewing song practices, countering colonial narratives and re-presenting performance traditions. The book’s nine chapters are written by song and dance practitioners, curators, music and dance historians, anthropologists, linguists and musicologists, who explore music and dance by Indigenous people from the West, far north and southeast of the Australian continent, and from Aotearoa New Zealand, Taiwan and Turtle Island (North America).

Music, Dance and the Archive interrogates historical practices of access to archives by showing how Indigenous performing artists and community members and academic researchers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) are collaborating to bring life to objects that have been stored in archives. It not only examines colonial archiving practices but also creative and provocative efforts to redefine the role of archives and to bring them into dialogue with contemporary creative work. Through varied contributions the book seeks to destabilise the very definition of “archives” and to imagine the different forms in which cultural knowledge can be held for current and future Indigenous stakeholders. Music, Dance and the Archive highlights the necessity of relationships, Country and creativity in practising song and dance, and in revitalising practices that have gone out of use.

Amanda Harris is a Senior Research Fellow at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Unit of digital archive Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC).

Linda Barwick is a musicologist collaborating with First Nations communities in Australia since 1985 and Italian communities since 1979. She is currently Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Jakelin Troy (Jaky) is Ngarigu of the Snowy Mountains, called by Jaky’s community Kunama Namadgi, in south-eastern Australia. She is Director, Indigenous Research at the University of Sydney and founded the Sydney Indigenous Research Network.

List of figures
List of tables
The contributors
List of abbreviations

  1. 1 Embodied culture and the limits of the archive (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.01)

    Amanda Harris, Linda Barwick, Jakelin Troy

    2 “I’ll show you that manyardi”: Memory and lived experience in the performance of public ceremony in western Arnhem Land (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.02)

    Reuben Brown and Solomon Nangamu

    3 Ruatepupuke II: Māori meeting house in a museum (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.03)

    Jack Gray and Jacqueline Shea Murphy

    4 Animating cultural heritage knowledge through songs: Museums, archives, consultation and Tiwi music (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.04)

    Genevieve Campbell, Jacinta Tipungwuti, Amanda Harris and Matt Poll

    5 The body is an archive: Collective memory, ancestral knowledge, culture and history (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.05)

    Rosy Simas

    6 Music, dance and the archive: Reanimating 1830s Nyungar songs of Miago (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.06)

    Clint Bracknell

    7 Authenticity and illusion: Performing Māori and Pākehā in the early twentieth century (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.07)

    Marianne Schultz

    8 Bodies of representation and resistance: Archiving and performingculture through contemporary Indigenous theatre in Taiwan (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.08)

    Chi-Fang Chao

    9 Mermaids and cockle shells: Innovation and tradition in the “Diyama” song of Arnhem Land (doi: 10.30722/sup.9781743328675.09)

    Jodie Kell and Cindy Jinmarabynana

Music, Dance, and the Archive offers new critical and innovative creative work with archival collections, and… the book carries forward our understandings of historical materials into new fascinating directions.”

Brian Diettrich   Yearbook for Traditional Music

“The case study descriptions of working with Aboriginal community members on traditional music are fascinating and encouraging examples of working inclusively and developing archival knowledge in co-operation with traditional owners.

The questioning and examination of past practices of custodianship, arrangement, and description contribute considerably to decolonising the archives.”

Judges’ comments, 2022 Mander Jones Awards


“a radical and necessary intervention in our consideration of the archives and the records, and… a particularly genius approach to bringing the archives to life… This is the task for all of us - we must reanimate the archives, and this is the true decolonisation of the archives… To have the Traditional Owners take these elements of cultural heritage and bring them back to life in their own cultures, reanimating them, re-embodying them, and re-emplacing them in Country… This is the task – liberating the archives, re-embodying the archives.”

Professor Marcia Langton launching Music, Dance and the Archive, online, hosted by Indigenous Knowledge Institute, University of Melbourne, 1 December 2022


“As contemporary Australia reckons with its past, this volume is both timely and urgent. We readers are challenged to critically reflect on how history lives on in the present – with implications not only for creativity, heritage, and the arts, but also for prosperous and equitable societies and thriving cultures, now and into the future. This unique and lively collection is a landmark in scholarship on Indigenous performing arts and the archive, with relevance for Australia and beyond.”

Dr Catherine Grant  

Format: paperback
Size: 254 × 178 × 15 mm
206 pages
maps, family tree, photographs, musical notation
Copyright: © 2022
ISBN: 9781743328675
Publication: 01 Nov 2022
Series: Indigenous Music, Language and Performing Arts