Rebuilding as Research: Noongar Song, Language and Ways of Knowing

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In Australia, language and song are integral to maintaining Aboriginal knowledge systems. British colonisation and ensuing Australian government policies of assimilation have adversely impacted these knowledge systems, at least partially by functioning to dramatically diminish the vitality of many Aboriginal languages and song traditions. As a Noongar researcher motivated by community-oriented goals, I employ a multidisciplinary approach to enhance the revitalisation of the endangered Noongar language and its song traditions in the south coast region of Western Australia. This work draws on established methods from ethnomusicology and linguistics, engaging with community knowledge-holders and archival records to rebuild repertoire while increasing opportunities to gather together, sing and speak. While the processes developed to aid this endeavour may function as useful models for others involved in similar projects across the world, its aims are primarily oriented towards empowering the local community. Given the continued development of approaches to Indigenous research, this article will discuss the potential for language revitalisation, song and performance to expand available ways of knowing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-223
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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