Yuendumu Everyday: Contemporary Life in Remote Aboriginal Australia

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Aboriginal Studies Press, 2008 - History - 199 pages
This book 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 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.

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"In Yuendumu Everyday: contemporary life in remote Aboriginal Australia (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2008) author Yasmine Musharbash deploys modest investigative techniques to tackle a range of issues about life in Yuendumu. She explores deep-seated Warlpiri modes of thought and social beliefs, the confrontation of those modes with Western expectations, and the manner in which private lives and government programs--especially for housing--meet, attract, and repel.
It is something of a truism that good ethnographies illuminate the differences between societies as well as the common humanity that binds them. Yuendumu Everyday delivers on both accounts. Musharbash offers a rich exposition of profound details of daily life and a respectful gloss on their meanings. She helps us to see both the Warlpiri's view of themselves and our perceptions of them. But best of all, she succeeds in bringing those two perspectives into closer alignment."
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About the author (2008)

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

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