Yuendumu Everyday: Contemporary life in remote Aboriginal Australia



Availability: Print
Electronic Book Format: www.ebooks.com

January 2009, pb, 210x140mm, 212pp, b/w illus
RRP $39.95 incl. GST
ISBN 9780855756611

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While we have learned that Aboriginal societies are orders of intimate personhood, organisations of sentiment, there are few extensive studies that have made this experience and form of sociality, its accomplishment and fragility, central to their exposition. What is it like to live in this form of social life? Indeed, how does one come to know it? Gracefully and cogently, Yasmine Musharbash opens up the world of everyday life of Warlpiri people at Yuendumu, the pressures and satisfactions of a life dominated by the immediacy of others, and the extraordinary mobility of persons making their way through the physical and social spaces of their world. — Fred Myers, Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University; Author of Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self: Sentiment, Place and Politics among Western Desert Aborigines (1986) and Painting Culture: the Making of an Aboriginal High Art (2002)

Yuendumu Everyday explores intimacy, immediacy and mobility as the core principles underpinning contemporary everyday life in a central Australian Aboriginal settlement. It analyses an everyday shaped through the interplay between a not so distant hunter–gatherer past and the realities of living in a first-world nation–state by considering such apparently mundane matters as: What is a camp? How does that relate to houses? Who sleeps where, and next to whom? Why does this constantly change? What and where are the public/private boundaries? And most importantly: How do Indigenous people in praxis relate to each other?

Employing a refreshingly readable writing style, Musharbash includes rich vignettes, including narrative portraits of five Warlpiri women. Musharbash’s descriptions and analyses of their actions and the situations they find themselves in, transcend the general and illuminate the personal. She invites readers to ponder the questions raised by the book, not just at an abstract level, but as they relate to people’s actual lives. In doing so, it expands our understandings of Indigenous Australia.

Yasmine Musharbash spent three years of participant observation in the Warlpiri camps of Yuendumu, as a postgraduate of the Australian National University and is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Western Australia.

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