MISC graduate wins anthropology prize

MISC graduate wins anthropology prize

Dr Jason Gibson with expert Anmatyerr singer Paddy Kemarr Wilis

Monash Indigenous Studies Centre PhD graduate Jason Gibson has been awarded the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria (AASV)'s Alpha Archaeology Prize for 2017.

Every year the AASV offers the opportunity for students from Monash, La Trobe and the University of Melbourne to present a paper at their regular lectures – as long as it relates to Archaeology or Anthropology. The talks are judged on presentation with the winner awarded at the AGM.

Jason's presentation, “Songs of Central Australia Revisited” outlined his important research on the song recordings of T.G.H. Strelow, one of Australia's leading anthropologists. Jason's research re-examined Strehlow’s recordings of song and ceremony in collaboration with contemporary Arrernte and Anmatyerr men over a number of years. Included in these discussions were men across three generations, including some of those who acted as informants to Strehlow in the 1960s, those that witnessed him at work in their communities, and younger men who have come to this material for the first time. Recasting Strehlow’s collection as a co-production, actively made with informants who responded dynamically and creatively to their unequal relationships with ethnographers, Jason's research argues for greater emphasis on the dialogical and relational properties inherent in ethnographic research. He also describes Anmatyerr people’s extensive contemporary knowledge of this material, as well as the ongoing use of song and ritual in these communities today.

An anthropologist and historian specialising in the intercultural histories and ethnography of Central Australia, Jason has taught in Indigenous Studies at the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre and coordinated a major Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project concerning the works of seminal anthropologists Baldwin Spencer and Francis Gillen with the Australian National University. He has worked with both the Strehlow Research Centre and the Melbourne Museum on the repatriation of men’s ceremonial objects as well as the return of film and audio recordings to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.  He is currently engaged in another ARC project concerning the nineteenth century Australian anthropologists A.W. Howitt and Lorimer Fison, as well as the publication of Strehlow’s ‘Land of Altjira’.

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