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"Still the same corroboree?" culture, identity and politics in Australian Indigenous hip hop

By Chiara Minestrelli


Focusing on the critical expression ‘Indigenous/Aboriginal Hip Hop’, this thesis investigates the meanings generated by this expression through the discursive strategies employed by those rappers who identify as Indigenous and whose music has been labelled ‘Indigenous/Aboriginal Hip Hop’ by virtue of its lyrics, musical style and the rappers’ public image. Elaborating on this aspect, the thesis’s argument develops around two distinct, and yet deeply intertwined, semantic areas: the politics of identity and the political power of ‘Indigenous/Aboriginal Hip Hop’. Engaging in a discussion around these aspects, the thesis investigates the complexities inherent in the discourses produced by Indigenous rappers through their music and validated by their direct testimonies. Collaborators and participants shed light on some of the dynamics underlying their musical decisions and their position within discussions on representations of ‘Indigenous identity and politics’. Maintaining a focus on the importance of adopting decolonising research strategies, the thesis has engaged with academic scholarship on the topic and its related areas, thus integrating pre-exiting knowledge with various in-depth analyses and two case studies. This ethnographic research utilises qualitative methods of data collection, such as formal semi-structured interviews, informal conversations, participant observation and fieldwork notes. The data gathered during my fieldwork experience was recorded in accordance with the requirements imposed by ethical protocols. The themes that emerged from the material were successively classified and interpreted in cooperation with collaborators and participants, respecting their different views and their intrinsic complexities. Looking at the Indigenous rappers’ local and global aspirations, the thesis shows that, by counteracting dominant narratives through their unique stories, Indigenous rappers have utilised Hip Hop as an expressive means to empower themselves and revive their Elders’ culture in ways that are contextual to the society they live in. Borrowing from different cultural practices, and moving freely across imposed categories (of race, gender and music) the younger generations of Indigenous people have found an avenue that allows them to be active performers, community members and citizens

Topics: Australian Indigenous hip hop, Identity, Culture, Transcultural dialogue, Politics and spirituality
Publisher: Monash University. Faculty of Arts. Monash Indigenous Centre
Year: 2014
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