Interdisciplinary MA

Interdisciplinary MA: Summary of Research

The original goal of my MA was to conduct a mythographic study that would track how ongoing expressions of cultural poetics, via both stories and myths, in the Wadeye region necessitate new models for understanding/conceptualizing the world. To achieve this practical end, I wanted to develop a basic knowledge of the underlying core processes of mythogenesis. I wanted to structurally identify its inner workings as they would pertain to and thus illuminate the lived cultural traditions of the township and its rural districts. Particularly, this phenomenon and its accompanying theoretical framework could ratify the relationship between narratives and their fragments—provide insights to how they aggregate—even problematize—the formation of totalities, or worldviews. I was keen to work with the expert knowledge of Wadeye’s elders as well as other key informants and residents who regularly engage in the creative and ritual life of the region. The data from my fieldwork is itself a mix of the narrative and cultural repertories of the area that engages with and gives meaning to the diverse lives of Wadeye Aboriginal Australians and their Northern township; it was collected on-site as field notes during participant-observation activities, but otherwise as recordings of interview sessions, mixed-media ranging from stills to video, and even archival materials from the Kanamkek-Yile Ngala museum. The core data was analyzed using a qualitative thumb into themes that illustrated the nature of preliminary fieldwork and active manifestations of living myth within the daily activities of residents—raining from funerals to bush trips. If possible and with more data, I was to organize this information into semantic clusters and systems of relations. I wanted to produce a quantum understanding of how the building blocks of a field-dependent worldview arrange themselves in the manifestation of culturally dependent meaning. The goal here was to form a key sense of how lived awareness and creativity operates as a knowable and executable representation of the modern belief systems of Wadeye and the “Dreamtime.” The initial goal of this mythography was to produce a generative model for the practice of story revitalization and the understating of living myth.

Again, this was an original aim, which itself proved to be beyond the breadth and duration of a single MA. Yet, the actual work was still generative and insightful. I paln to accomplish much more with mythogenic theory as a salient, simulation-based model in my PhD.

I was, however, able to effectively and pragmatically focus on practices of cultural resource management (CRM) as an effort to revitalize culture in the present, and the aim of such crucial endeavours was and is to provide stability for future generations in navigating culture. This theme runs throughout my preliminary fieldwork in Wadeye, as I sought to collect traditional narratives of the mythic “Dreaming” song cycles. One of the goals of my volunteering and fieldwork in this region was to help make history and myth relevant to future generations of Aboriginal Australians by providing them with my time and expertise as a resource from the local Kanamkek-Yile Ngala museum. In my thesis, I explore how culture, as presented in traditional myths and narratives, becomes intertwined in the daily lives of Aboriginal Australians. The thesis delves heavily into the process of fieldwork as a way of engendering empathy for the social analysis of myths. The experience of the field, entering into another way of life, is central in forming an understanding for how myth and narrative play vital roles in Aboriginal Australian life/culture. The fieldwork within my thesis is largely from the vein of applied anthropology in seeking answers relating to the loss of narratives in the region. The drive here is to find a framework for the successful revitalization of lost stories by visiting cultural sites and reconnecting to experiences of the land. I also explore notions of ethno-poetry as a possible way of tapping into the creative potential of the Aboriginal Australian “Dreamtime.” The aim is thus to engender a larger discussion in cultural resource management by centering the community in deciding its own responses and adaptation strategies in dealing with story revitalization efforts.


Bibliography

    Alcoff, Linda and Elizabeth Potter. 1993. Feminist Epistemologies. London: Routledge.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. 2011 Census of Wadeye. http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/SSC70193, accessed June 22, 2014.

    Bernard, Russell. 2002. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. New York: Altimira Press.

    Berndt, Roland and Catherine Berndt. 1994. The Speaking Land: Myth and Story in Aboriginal Australia. Rochester: Inner Traditions.

    Blythe, Joe. 2012. Language and Cognition – Murrinh-Patha. http://www.mpi.nl/departments /language-and-cognition/fieldsites/murrinh-patha, accessed June 22, 2014.

    Bowler, James M, Harvey Johnston, Jon Olley, John Prescott, Richard Roberts, Wilfred Shawcross and Nigel Spooner. 2003. New Ages for Human Occupation and Climatic Change at Lake Mungo, Australia. Nature 421:837-840.

    Bruner, Jerome. 1991. The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical Inquiry 18: 1-21.

    Charlesworth, Max, Françoise Dussart and Howard Morphy, eds. 2005. Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    Creswell, John. 2007. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Creswell, John. 2003. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Crystal, David. 2000. Language Death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Davies, Charlotte Aull. 1999. Reflexive Ethnography: A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. New York: Routledge.

    De Munck, Victor. 2000. Culture, Self and Meaning. Illinois: Waveland Press.

    Denzin, Norman and Yvonna Lincoln. 2005. Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research. In Handbook of Qualitative Research. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. Pp. 1-32. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Doty, William G. 2000. Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

    Geertz, Clifford. 1977. The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books Inc.: New York.

    Gill, Sam D. 1998. Storytracking: Texts, Stories, and Histories in Central Australia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Goodale, Jane. 1987. Gambling is Hard Work: Card Playing in Tiwi Society. Oceania 58(1): 6-21.

    Goody, Jack. 2010. Myth, Ritual and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Gray, Ann. 2003. Research Practice for Cultural Studies. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

    Greenwood, Davydd J., and Morten Levin. 1998. Introduction to Action Research: Social Research for Social Change. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

    Heidegger, Martin. 1927. Being and Time. Toronto: HarperCollins.

    Hymes, Dell. 1981. “In Vain I Tried to Tell You”: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics. Studies in Native American Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Jacob, Michelle M. 2013. Yakama Rising: Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Activism, and Healing. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Kindle Edition.

    Keen, Ian. 2005. Stanner on Aboriginal Religions. In Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. Pp. 61-78. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    King, Thomas. 2003. The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: Anansi.

    Kintsch, Walter. 1998. Comprehension: A Paradigm for Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Klein, Julie Thompson. 1990. Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory and Practice. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

    Langton, Marcia. 2005. Sacred Geography. In Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. Max Charlesworth, Françoise Dussart and Howard Morphy, eds. Pp. 131-140. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    Leenhardt, Maurice. 1979. Do Kamo: Person and Myth in the Melanesian World. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

    Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1978. Myth and Meaning. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1955. The Structural Study of Myth. The American Journal of Folklore 68(270): 428-444.

    Longino, Helen. 1993. Subjects, Power and Knowledge: Description and Prescription in Feminist Philosophies of Science. In Feminist Epistemologies. Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter, eds. Pp. 101-120. New York: Routledge.

    MacKay, Anne. 1999. Signs of Orality: The Oral Tradition and its Influence in the Greek and Roman World. Boston: Brill.

    Mahood, Kim. 2012. Kartiya are like Toyotas: White Workers on Australia’s Cultural Frontier. Griffith Review 36:1-17.

    Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1922. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1954. Myth in Primitive Psychology. In Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays. Pp. 93-148. New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday.

    Mansfield, John. 2013. The Social Organization of Wadeye’s Heavy Metal Mobs. The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA) 24(2):148-165.

    Marcus, George E. 1995. Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:95-117.

    Marett, Allan. 2005. Songs, Dreamings and Ghosts: The Wangga of North Australia. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

    Mauss, Marcel. 2001. The Gift: the Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Routledge.

    Merlan, Francesca. 1998. Caging the Rainbow: Place, Politics, and Aborigines in A North Australian Town. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

    Mitchell, W.J.T. 1981. On Narrative. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Mithun, Marianne. 1998. The Significance of Diversity in Language Endangerment and Preservation. In Endangered Languages: Current Issues and Future Prospects. Lenore A. Grenoble and Lindsay J. Whaley, eds. Pp.163-191. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Morphy, Howard. 2005. Yolngu Art and the Creativity of the Inside. In Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. Max Charlesworth, Françoise Dussart and Howard Morphy, eds. Pp.159-169. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    Morton, John. 2005. Aboriginal Religion Today. In Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings. Max Charlesworth, Françoise Dussart and Howard Morphy, eds. Pp.195-203. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    Murray, Henry. 1968. Myth and Mythmaking. Boston: Beacon.

    Nettle, Daniel and Suzanne Romaine. 2000. Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World’s Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    O’Reilly, Karen. 2005. Ethnographic Methods. New York: Routledge.

    Orki, Ben. 1997. A Way of Being Free. London: Phoenix House.

    Roland, Robinson. 1966. Aboriginal Myths and Legends. Melbourne: Sun Books.

    Rothenberg, Jerome. 1985. Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. 2ed. Berkley: University of California Press.

    Rumsey, Alan and James F. Weiner, eds. 2001. Emplaced Myth: Space, Narrative, and Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

    Segal, Robert A., ed. 1998. The Myth and Ritual Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Slotkin, Richard. 2000. Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860. Norman: Oklahoma University Press.

    Smith, Linda T. 2002. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.

    Spencer, W. B. and F. J. Gillen. 1899. The Native Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1979. White Man Got No Dreaming: Essays 1938-1973. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1963. On Aboriginal Religion: VI. Cosmos and Society Made Correlative. Oceania 33(4): 239-273.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1961a. On Aboriginal Religion: V. The Design-Plan of a Riteless Myth. Oceania 32(2): 79-108.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1961b. On Aboriginal Religion: IV. The Design-Plan of a Riteless Myth. Oceania 31(4): 233-258.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1960a. On Aboriginal Religion: III. Symbolism in the Higher Rites. Oceania 31(2): 100-120.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1960b. On Aboriginal Religion: II. Sacramentalism, Rite and Myth. Oceania 30(4): 245-278.

    Stanner, W. E. H. 1959. On Aboriginal Religion: I. The Lineaments of Sacrifice. Oceania 30(2): 108-127.

    Stewart, Pamela J. and Andrew Strathern. 2001. Origins versus Creative Powers: The Interplay of Movement and Fixity. In Emplaced Myth: Space, Narrative, and Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea. Pp.79-98. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

    Strauss, Claudia and Naomi Quinn. 1997. A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Tedlock, Dennis. 1972. Finding the Center: Narrative Poetry of the Zuñi Indians. New York: Dial Press.

    Tonkinson, Robert. 1991. The Mardu Aborigines: Living the Dream in Australia’s Desert. Stamford: Wadsworth.

    Turner, Victor. 1974. Dramas, Fields, & Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. London: Cornell University Press.

    Van Heekeren, Deborah. 2012. The Shark Warrior of Alewai: A Phenomenology of Melanesian Identity. Wantage: Sean King Publishing.

    Wagner, Roy. 2001. Condensed Mapping: Myth and the Folding of Space / Space and the Folding of Myth. In Emplaced Myth: Space, Narrative, and Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea. Pp. 71-78. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

    Wallin, Mark. 2007. An Eurhythmatic Response to Adaptive Accrual: A Rhetoric of Adaptation. PhD dissertation, Department of English, University of Waterloo.

    Young, Michael W. 1983. Magicians of Manumanua: Living Myth in Kalauna. Berkeley, CA: University Press of California.