Category Archives: Media

Ozpapers update

I’ve updated the Ozpapers blog. New papers will be released over the next week or so.


I couldn’t get a ticket to my dhuway Gurrumul’s concert in Canberra, but I did buy his CD. It’s great. All the reviewers talk about the etherial and spiritual nature of the music. But that’s missing so much. You need to know Dhuwala to really get it. Here’s one example. In one song he’s calling out the Ḻikanbuy ancestor names (at least, that’s what I assume they are, they aren’t names I know but they have exactly that structure). He says Ŋarrandja dhuwala XXXI‘m this X’, but in doing so he’s quoting the tune I come from a land down-under. It’s a great piece of intertextuality. 

Aṉangu can’t count

A very interesting (semantically) statement was overheard on ABC radio on the 10-year anniversary of the handback of Uluru to the TOs: [this was the translation from Pitjantjatjara] “Aṉangu can’t count, but even if we could, you couldn’t have counted all the people there – might have been 2,000.”

What I’m reading

I bought a bunch of new books at ALS and in Broome. I may get around to (micro)reviewing them. Can’t give much information here since I haven’t read them yet!

  • Aboriginal women by degrees: a book of essays by Aboriginal women about their experiences in higher education.
  • Intruder’s guide to East Arnhem Land: Should be a bit of balance to Balanda (it’s described a such by people who’ve read both)
  • France Australe: about French exploration in Western Australia.

And a grammar or two or three:

  • The Grammar of Yalarnnga. I suspect I’ll be blogging about this.
  • Dhanggati grammar and dictionary: A new grammar by Amanda Lissarrague, very clearly set out, with texts, sketch grammar and dictionary.
  • Gumbaynggirr Dictionary and Learner’s Grammar. This looks fun.

Two paper collections:

  • Warra Wiltaniappendi: Strengthening languages. The 2007 ILC proceedings, dedicated to Dr Marika.
  • Encountering Aboriginal Languages (I have a paper in this volume) on case studies in the history of Australian linguistic work. It’s got Schmidt’s map on the cover too, so I won’t have to resort to ILL for reference to the eastern part of the country!

It’s our place: we belong to it

There was a great story on the 7:30 report last night. It broke all the rules, in a good way. It was a story on the bilbies on Anangu land and a group of painters who had a successful exhibition in Sydney and Melbourne.

They used words from Pitjantjatjara in the story, and they were some approximation of correct stress and phonemes. They interviewed the painters themselves, not just the white person who runs the arts centre (Ninuku). They had an aboriginal person doing most of the voice-overs. The story acknowledged the group by name; they weren’t just ‘aboriginal’ stories.

It was a really positive story, and a very nice change from the relentless negativity of the general media.

But the other reason I am blogging about this was a really nice quote from one of the artists. She was talking about Kalka community and the country that she’d painted. She said “this is our place; we belong to it”, not ‘it belongs to us’. It’s something that resonates with the way that I’ve heard other aboriginal people talk about land ownership and belonging to country.

good news and bad news from Arnhem Land

I’m in Broome for a day or two before heading up to One Arm Point. This is just a quick update on borrowed internet.

Good news for Michael Christie at CDU, who’s received a major grant to look at Yolngu cultural knowledge transmission. Congratulations!

Bad news also for CDU, though, for Arnhem Land, and for all of us: Dr Marika has passed away.

In the news

Some new stuff of note on the web:

  • If you’re in Melbourne, check out this exhibition of work from Milingimbi artists, including my mami Lilly.
  • There’s an article in today’s Australian about paying kids to turn up at school. There’s some comment here. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me, to be honest. OK, in a monetary economy, cash is an incentive. If you want people to do stuff they might not otherwise do, you either increase the penalties for not doing it (for example, by blocking the parents’ child endowment benefits) or increase the incentives for doing it. However, is there any good evidence that cash incentives work the same way in remote communities as they do in urban areas? Particularly in areas where familiarity with money and any concept of personal wealth is pretty recent?
  • This story points out that Indigenous housing problems involve dangerous electrical wiring … but it’s ok, because the electricity is off so often that it’s unlikely to be really dangerous…
  • And here’s a tourism article about One Arm Point