Anthropological understandings of Australian aboriginal sacred songs have been contingent on the frameworks within which they have been represented and interpreted. The empirical and scientific approaches to documenting and analyzing songs' significance in indigenous societies have not only constructed song as an academic object, but have failed to account for established assumptions about indigenous cultures generally that have allowed the continuing lack of recognition of the authority that song holds within indigenous epistemologies.
This thesis challenges these assumptions that have underscored songs sidelined status, as well as the misconceptions, when it has been a focal point in literature, that song is an objective and simple reality. Recent anthropological collaboration with indigenous communities has culminated in literature that facilitates the exploration of indigenous epistemologies regarding relationships with country, ancestors. Law and kinship. When song is unpacked within the wider context of these relationships, a complex network of context-dependent and intersubjective connections begins to emerge, and song can be understood to encode the knowledge required to express and experience this relatedness.
Without sound critiques of anthropological models of understanding, the realities of songs' significance in aboriginal cultures cannot be approached. In my thesis, I demonstrate how the application of anthropological literature can help in understanding the limits of western scientific frameworks to engage with indigenous song.