The Voice and Its Doubles

Media and Music in Northern Australia

The Voice and Its Doubles

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 16 illustrations Published: April 2016

Author: Daniel Fisher

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Australia/New Zealand/Oceania, Native and Indigenous Studies

Beginning in the early 1980s Aboriginal Australians found in music, radio, and filmic media a means to make themselves heard across the country and to insert themselves into the center of Australian political life. In The Voice and Its Doubles Daniel Fisher analyzes the great success of this endeavor, asking what is at stake in the sounds of such media for Aboriginal Australians. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in northern Australia, Fisher describes the close proximity of musical media, shifting forms of governmental intervention, and those public expressions of intimacy and kinship that suffuse Aboriginal Australian social life. Today’s Aboriginal media include genres of country music and hip-hop; radio requests and broadcast speech; visual graphs of a digital audio timeline; as well as the statistical media of audience research and the discursive and numerical figures of state audits and cultural policy formation. In each of these diverse instances the mediatized voice has become a site for overlapping and at times discordant forms of political, expressive, and institutional creativity. 


"Fisher’s writing will be valuable for all kinds of classes in the anthropology of communication, political anthropology, sound and media studies, and ethnomusicology. Radio producers and students of media production will enjoy the stories of festivals and radio production studios and the lives of young Aboriginal workers and their mentors. Fisher’s dedicated ethnographic work serves as an example and model for anthropologists working with the social and political complexities of media production." — Rodney A. Garrett, Reviews in Anthropology

"The Voice and Its Doubles expands and challenges our ideas about Aboriginal cultural expression. It helps us (especially non-Aboriginal readers) to hear Aboriginal radio and music as a hidden and powerful language. It expands our notion of what is possible in ethnographic study—the ethnography of the staged voice. And it challenges us to think about the political power embedded in everyday phenomena, such as radio talkback or the oversaturation of country music hits, and demands that we understand the politics embedded in the production of the voice." — Toby Martin, Anthropological Forum

"Fisher has made impressive work of characterizing the messy strands of [an] unstable and transforming social field. The Voice and Its Doubles makes for compelling reading, not only for students of media but for anyone interested in grappling with the contemporary contested politics of Aboriginality." — Melinda Hinkson, American Ethnologist

". . . The Voice and Its Doubles is an eloquent, thoughtful, and original work of anthropology. It makes a valuable contribution to sound studies, the anthropology of media, Aboriginal studies, and deserves to be read also by those compelled by broader questions with regard to critical Indigeneity."
  — Jennifer Deger, The Australian Journal of Anthropology

". . . The Voice and Its Doubles is a thoughtful, well-written, and beautifully printed book that is timely in challenging readers to understand the important and often-marginalized work of Indigenous Australians in their attempts to reinforce social cohesion and build better opportunities for their communities through the medium of radio." — Aaron Corn, Anthropological Quarterly

"The Voice and Its Doubles is a beautifully crafted theoretical and ethnographic tour de force that deeply engages with the rich universe of Indigenous audio media. Daniel Fisher guides us through experiences linking indigenous sonic expression and social relations that characterize radio, music, and activism in northern Australia. More broadly, this book asks readers interested in anthropology, media, and indigenous studies to think about what's at stake for indigenous cultural activists in the poetics and politics of voice, music, and their mediation in complex contemporary soundscapes." — Faye Ginsburg, Director, Center for Media, Culture, and History, New York University

"Continuously weaving ethnography and history with political and cultural analysis, The Voice and Its Doubles gives us a potent sense of voice as expressive agency and of media as an Indigenous 'weapon of the weak.' Daniel Fisher demonstrates his skill and commitment as both a multisite ethnographer of Indigenous Australia and a finely tuned critic of the Australian legacy of deeply vexed, racist, and bait and switch policies to subordinate the Aboriginal population. Fisher shows why the anthropology of voice is so critical to the anthropology of Aboriginality."  — Steven Feld, author of Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: Five Musical Years in Ghana


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Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Daniel Fisher is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the coeditor of Radio Fields: Anthropology and Wireless Sound in the 21st Century.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acronyms  vii

Acknowledgments  ix

Prologue. Staging the Voice  xiii

Introduction  1

1. Mediating Kinship: Radio's Cultural Poetics  43

2. Aboriginal Country  80

3. From the Studio to the Street  114

4. From Radio Skid Row to the Reconciliation Station  143

5. Speaking For or Selling Out? Dilemmas of Aboriginal Cultural Brokerage  182

6. A Body for the Voice  222

Conclusion. An Immanent Alterity  250

Notes  267

References  287

Index  307
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6120-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6089-6
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