The Challenge of Indigenous Peoples
Spectacle or Politics?

Edited by Barbara Glowczewski and Rosita Henry

Contributors: Wayne Jowandi Barker; Jessica De Largy Healy; Barbara Glowczewski; Rosita Henry; Wolfgang Kempf; Jari Kupiainen; Stéphane Lacam-Gitareu; Géraldine Le Roux; Arnaud Morvan; Martin Préaud; Dominique Samson Normand de Chambourg; Alexandre Soucaille; Anke Tonnaer

This title is available in both hardback and as a PDF ebook. Individual chapters are also available to purchase as PDF ebooks.

June 2011, hardback, 300 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-26-9


This book is concerned with the ways in which Indigenous peoples express their cultural and social identities in art and politics. Based on field research and practical initiatives with Indigenous peoples in Australia, Oceania, Asia and Siberia, it provides chapters on contemporary creative and political practices.

The authors, who include young anthropologists and artists, explore a range of performative and artistic contexts in which Indigenous people work to legitimate their singular existences through the networks they form with others. Their art, music, dance and ritual provide new and emergent forms of indigeneity, and are woven into political strategies for making their cultures travel across the world.

"This is the first work to take performance and performativity really seriously in indigenous studies. These essays make visible complex negotiations of identity, power and place that completely revise received ideas of circumscribed, backward looking natives. Indigeneity here is all about mobility and inventiveness — concrete, difficult engagements with power and possibility at local, national, regional, and global scales. It is an active process of both staying grounded and going somewhere in post-modernity."
– Professor James Clifford, University of California, Santa Cruz

"While the artistic and cultural traditions of indigenous and traditional local peoples from disparate places around the world are constantly recruited into a global hybridity of fashion, media, scholarship and political movements, scholars such as those who have contributed to this excellent book, have looked beyond the mere surface to deeper meanings, history, social complexities and agency in the highly specific cases discussed here.
My colleagues, Glowczewski, Henry, De Largy Healy and Morvan, write about situations I know well, and have thought about deeply. Yet, their work reveals new ways of thinking about these issues that surprise and delight me. If you want to better understand the resonance of ancient traditions in the modern world, this book is the one."

– Professor Marcia Langton, University of Melbourne



1. Between Spectacle and Politics: Indigenous Singularities - Barbara Glowczewski

Part One - The Paradigm of Indigenous Australians

2. Nomads But “Anchored”: Desert People and Kimberley People - Stéphane Lacam-Gitareu
3. The Genealogy of Dialogue: Fieldwork Stories from Arnhem Land - Jessica De Largy Healy
4. The Resounding of a Plane Crash: Articulating Gender Relations in a Festival Performance of the Aeroplane Dance in Borroloola, Australia - Anke Tonnaer
5. Two Intercultural Stagings with the Yolngu and the Kija: The Representation of Relations -
Martin Préaud
6. “You Can’t Keep it to Yourself”: Indigenous Australian Artistic Strategies in France, 1983–2006 - Arnaud Morvan
7. Urban Strategies and Artistic Performances - Géraldine Le Roux
8. Shake-a-Leg: Aboriginal Festivals and the International Stage - Wayne Jowandi Barker

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Part Two - Interpretation and Reappropriation: From the Exotic to the Inalienable

9. Dancing with the Flow: Political Undercurrents at the 9th Festival of Pacific Arts, Palau 2004 - Barbara Glowczewski & Rosita Henry
10. The First South Pacific Festival of Arts Revisited: Producing Authenticity and the Banaban Case - Wolfgang Kempf
11. Kastom on Stage is not Staged Custom: Reflections on the First Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival - Jari Kupiainen
12. The Forest, the Warrior and the Dancers: Staging the Question of Indigenous Peoples in India - Alexandre Soucaille
13. From Good Fortune to Khanty Identity: The Bear Games - Dominique Samson Normand de Chambourg
14. Creative Networks: The Poetic Politics of Indigeneity - Rosita Henry

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About the Authors


About the Editors

Barbara Glowczewski is Director of Research at the Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Sociale (CNRS/EHESS/Collège de France). She is the author of many books, articles and audiovisual productions on ritual, myth, gender, reticular thinking and social change, She is also regularly involved with exhibitions of Aboriginal art.

Rosita Henry is Associate Professor of Anthropology at James Cook University, Australia and a research fellow of the Cairns Institute. Her research concerns the poetic politics of relationships between people, places and the nation-state in Australia and the Pacific. She is author of numerous articles on Indigenous cultural festivals and the politics of intangible heritage.

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