This is a book about the Aboriginal production of audio media. It ex-
plores how the mediatization of voice and sound have come to animate
Indigenous life, how audio media draw the interest and investment of
the Australian state, and how such media move people and matter in the
lives of Indigenous Australians. Like so many places across the globe,
northern Australia is awash in electronically mediated sound, with ra-
dios and electric guitars joining microphones and mobile telephones in
the circulation and amplification of music and voice. These audio tech-
nologies entail a durable politics of indigeneity and liberal government,
a shared concern with eliciting Indigenous voices that brings together
Indigenous and settler agencies, and also a series of arguments about
how best to do that, and why and how such voices might matter. While
audio media sound of Aboriginal history, its producers are also drawn
into the orbit of the state’s interests in Aboriginal media and associated
forms of fiscal and institutional discipline. Sound and voice, that is, are
sites where forms of affect, aural culture, and audit culture collide. This
book asks what is at stake for Indigenous Australians in this collision,
and in so doing endeavors to better understand the powers of audio
media and affecting sound in contemporary northern Australia. To tell
the story of Indigenous audio media in Australia is thus to explore an
ontology of the recorded voice, the moving character of speech and
song in their mediatization, and also to register the centrality of audio
media and the voice to an aporia at the heart of liberal government in
the early twenty- first century.
INTRODUCTION
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