No Fixed Address, but currently in East Berlin: The Australian bicentennial, Indigenous protest and the Festival of Political Song in 1988

Equinox Publishing
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Journal Article
Perfect Beat: the Pacific journal of research into contemporary music and popular culture, 2015, 15 (2), pp. 129 - 148
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In his work on multidirectional memory, Michael Rothberg makes the point that “[a]lthough it is difficult to grasp today […] communism provided one of the discursive spheres […] in which the articulation of genocide and colonialism could first be attempted.” In this article, I explore the Indigenous reggae-rock band No Fixed Address’s performance, just after Australia Day 1988, at the East German Festival of Political Song, one of the surprisingly many venues where the East German State granted space for the articulation of genocide and colonialism and their legacies in the Australian context. On its face, this site offered a signal transnational location for Indigenous protest during the Bicentennial year. But I will demonstrate how the articulation of protest was undermined and skewed by partly competing, partly symbiotic intentions on the part of the East German and the Australian States. In this ambiguous context, musical protest unfolded in complex and sometimes unintended ways.
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