Macquarie University
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Impossible realities: the emergence of traditional Aboriginal cultural practices in Sydney's western suburbs

posted on 2022-03-28, 22:51 authored by Kristina Lyn Everett
The thesis concerns an Aboriginal community, members of which inhabit the western suburbs of Sydney at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This particular group of people has emerged as a cultural group over the last twenty-five years. In other words, the community did not exist before the advent of Aboriginal land rights in Australia. It might be right to suggest that without land rights, native title and state celebrations and inclusions of Aboriginal peoples as multicufturalism, this particular urban community would not and could not exist at all. That, however, would be a simplistic analysis of a complex phenomenon. Land rights and native title provide the beginning of this story. It becomes much more interesting when the people concerned take it up themselves. -- The main foci in the thesis are the cultural forms that this particular community overtly and intentionally produce as articulations of their identity, namely public speaking, dancing, painting and ceremony. I argue that it is only through these yery deliberate collective practices of identity-making that community identity can be produced. This is because the place that the group claims as its own - Sydney - is always already inhabited by 'us' (the dominant society). Analysis of these cultural forms reveals that even if the existence of the group depends on land rights and, attempts to attract the ultimate 'authenticity' bestowed by native title, members of this group are not conforming to native title rules pertinent to what constitutes 'genuine' 'Aboriginality' for the purposes of winning land claims. Their revived traditions are pot what the state prescribes as representative of 'authentic' urban Aboriginal culture. -- The thesis analyses the ways in which urban Aboriginal peoples are makipg themselves in the era and context of native title. It considers the consequences of being themselves.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Between ourselves -- Two (or three) for the price of one -- Community -- Bits and pieces -- Space painting or painting space -- Talkin' the talk. Bunda bunya miumba (Thundering kangaroos): dancing up a storm -- Welcome to Country: talkin' the talk -- Messing with ceremony -- 'Ethnogenesis' and the emergence of 'darug custodians' -- Conclusion.


Bibliography: leaves 301-330 "22nd November, 2006".

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media & Philosophy, Dept. of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jennifer Biddle

Additional Supervisor 1

Annette Hamilton

Additional Supervisor 2

Robert Norton


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Kristina Lyn Everett 2007.




New South Wales


xii, 330, [8] leaves ill., maps

Former Identifiers

mq:8745 1386863