Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)


Department of English


This dissertation examines contemporaiy Australian Aboriginal songs and songwriters within the context of post-colonialism. It argues that contemporary Aboriginal songs are post-colonial texts and that post-colonial literary theories can be adapted and apphed to them. It considers a range of post-colonial theories to arrive at a working model which posits the central characteristic of metonymy. It then considers the related issue of the social conditions which effect contemporary Aboriginal songs, particularly the problems and consequences of the categorisation of Aboriginal songs and Aboriginal songwriters. The dissertation then considers the relationship between traditional Aboriginal orality and contemporary Aboriginal songs, examining hnes of continuation between the two, the effect of differing modes of transmission on orality and the contemporaiy song as oral history. The singer/songwriters, Kev Carmody and Archie Roach, the band, Yothu Yindi, and Aboriginal women songwriters are then considered as case studies for the issues above. This dissertation concludes that the discourses which produce contemporaiy Aboriginal songs are dominated by the discourses of power and are therefore not allowed to exist in a syncretic relationship where Aboriginal songwriters would have control over the production and distribution of their work.