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

Katelyn Sarah Barney


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.


Indigenous Australian performance; women; contemporary music

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ISSN: 1836-8336