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This paper contributes to debates on decolonizing geography, by reflecting on the ethical and political considerations involved in research on indigenous music in Australia. The research collaboration involved two non-indigenous researchers—an academic geographer and a music educator—engaging with indigenous music and musicians in a number of ways. The paper reflects on these engagements, and draws attention to a series of key binaries and boundaries that were highlighted and unsettled: ‘outsider/insider’; ‘traditional/contemporary’; ‘authenticity/inauthenticity’. It also discusses the politics of publishing and draws attention to the ways in which the objects of our work—in this case a book—influence decisions about representation, subject matter, and interpretations of speaking positions. Rather than seeking validation for attempts to ‘speak for’ or ‘speak to’ indigenous musical perspectives, contemporary Aboriginality was understood as a field of intersubjective relations where multiple voices, representations and interventions are made. I discuss some ways in which the authors sought to situate their own musical, and geographical, knowledges in this problematic, and inherently political, research context.
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Keywords: Aboriginal music; book publishing; decolonizing geography; insider/outsider; intersubjectivity; research ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: GeoQuest Research Centre School of Earth and Environmental Sciences University of Wollongong NSW 2522, Australia, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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