Hop, Skip and Jump: Indigenous Australian Women Performing Within and Against Aboriginalism


  • Katelyn Sarah Barney


Indigenous Australian performance, women, contemporary music


Indigenous Australian women who perform contemporary music are acutely aware that Aboriginalist discourse has created unrealistic expectations and misconceptions of Indigenous Australian performance. One of the immediate effects of Aboriginalism is that it silences Indigenous Australians. In academic discourse and popular media, the voices of Indigenous women who perform contemporary music are rarely heard and often overlooked. This essay explores how Indigenous Australian women have been marginalised in academic and media discourses concerning Indigenous performance and some of the ways that performers play around, within, and against Aboriginalist constructions. Drawing on examples from academic texts and media representations of Indigenous performance, the initial focus is on critiquing representations of Indigenous Australian women performers. Using song texts and first-hand interviews with performers, I then discuss how four Indigenous Australian women performers resist Aboriginalist representations of themselves by using a diverse range of musical styles and by attempting to bring Indigenous women’s experiences and voices to the fore through contemporary song.

Author Biography

Katelyn Sarah Barney

Katelyn Barney (PhD Qld, Bmus Hons Qld, BA Qld, A.mus. A) recently completed a PhD at the University of Queensland researching Indigenous Australian women performing in contemporary music contexts. In this project she interviewed twenty Indigenous Australian women musicians in order to focus on their perspectives on the ways that Aboriginalism effects non-Indigenous expectations of Indigenous Australian women who perform contemporary music. Kate is currently lecturing at the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland and the Australian Catholic University, in topics including ethnomusicology, women and music, aural, music theory and history, and Indigenous studies. In addition to lecturing and teaching piano privately, Kate is treasurer of the Musicological Society of Australia Queensland Chapter and Publications Assistant for The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education.




How to Cite

Barney , K. S. (2022). Hop, Skip and Jump: Indigenous Australian Women Performing Within and Against Aboriginalism. Journal of Music Research Online, 1. Retrieved from https://www.jmro.org.au/index.php/main/article/view/5