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Desert Dreamers

2016
Author:

Barbara Glowczewski
Distributed for Univocal Publishing 

Desert Dreamers

An ethnographic adventure exploring the Warlpiri and their cultural practices of “the dreaming” in relation to their societal laws, ritual art, and connection with the cosmos

In 1979, anthropologist Barbara Glowczewski embarked on a journey to study the Warlpiri in the Australian outback. Here, she takes readers into the landscape, artistic rituals, and turmoil of the Warlpiri over three decades.

In the heart of Australia, on the cracked red earth, among wild vegetation, weathered bush, and dried-up creeks, hundreds of invisible pathways exist that become entangled on the earth's surface, underground, and in the sky, clouds, and wind. The Aboriginal people call them Jukurrpa: “the Dreamings.” This web is the Warlpiri land. Practicing the Dreaming, by ritual art, is for the Warlpiri a way to reactivate ancestral traditions to connect with the cosmos and respond to current social and political issues.

In 1979, anthropologist Barbara Glowczewski embarked on a journey to study the Warlpiri in the Australian outback. Struggling at once to maintain their traditions and cultural heritage as well as adapting to the continuing secularization and techno-progress of their European Australian counterparts, she takes us into the landscape, artistic rituals, and turmoil of the Warlpiri over three decades. Becoming accepted among Aboriginal families as a translator, and at the same time a negotiator of two vastly different visions of the earth, contemporary Western culture and the ancient indigenous dreaming culture, Glowczewski created a singular document of ethnological fieldwork and of self-transformation and discovery.

Desert Dreamers

Barbara Glowczewski is a professorial researcher at the French Scientific Research Center, CNRS, member of the Laboratory of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France. She dedicated her work to advocating for Australian Aboriginal creativity through artistic, cinematic, and narrative exploration.

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