In exploring the po litical forces gathering around sound and the voice
in Indigenous Australia, this book has sought to bring an ethnographic
ear to the po litical ontology of audio media. Its chapters underscore
how such media entail a fundamental excess, a potentiality that draws
together cultural intimacy, modes of Indigenous self- abstraction, and
questions of liberal recognition as bureaucratic discipline. The first
chapters’ interests in a social poetics of affecting sound in country music
and radio requests thus seek to evoke those sedimented forms of acous-
tic sociality in which intimacy and Indigenous self- abstraction double
one another in sound. This is to listen to this world with an ear for the
densities and evocative, musical modes of interpellation and social value
it has come to entail as sound. Later chapters sought to demonstrate that
this sound world should also be considered an accomplishment built
through the negotiation of settler- colonial interest and institutional con-
test. Focusing on the institutionalization and bureaucratic rational-
ization of Indigenous audio media suggests that this sound world does
more than simply echo an Indigenous agency; it also gathers to itself
power ful, at times incommensurable agencies and interests. Attention to
the power of vocal sociality and affecting sound does suggest the com-
plexity of the politics this can entail, but I have foregrounded something
of the slippery character of mediatized sound in order to explore how
the voice in Indigenous Australia has been solicited by diverse histori-
cal actors, and in an effort to understand the voice’s power in relation to
both its unsounded, tropic potency and its sounded, musical materiality.
An Immanent Alterity
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