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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Positions of op(posit)ion - by Ang O'Leary

'This Land is Mine' - Kev Carmody & Paul Kelly.

One Night the Moon (2001) clip 2 on ASO - Australia's audio and visual heritage online

(please click on the above link to view the song)

The narrative of the song is a powerful force that starkly illustrates two very different relationships to Country. One man claims ownership, 'this Land is Mine' and the other man declares that, 'This Land is me'.
As I have discovered, my thoughts about Australian society has been shaped by the ways in which I learnt; learning about the world within the system of the mainstream 'white' dominant culture. Growing up, I would sometimes hear racist beliefs touted about Aboriginal people and their place within the 'white' society that was thrust upon them. Even as a child, this angered me as I wanted to know more about the First People of the Land and there was never the opportunity to know in the true sense, as the Aboriginal man shares in his song,
' Rock, water, animal, tree. They are my song, my Being is here where I belong',
whereas the white man can only quantify his ownership in terms of a mere linear understanding, 'This land is mine, all the way to the old fence line'.

This song evokes a profound response to the white man's false sense of power over the Land for exploitation and personal gain. The simple verses and repetition of, 'this land is mine, this Land is me', skillfully engages the listener with (the call and response-like) nature of the chorus.

Starkly as it contrasts between the two paradigm ways of thinking, it challenges the listener to understand the systemic powers that were responsible for the ignorance in the first place.
Thankfully, the era of 'inter- subjectivity' (Langton, 1993) is upon us, with the ability for the reader or listener to seek new ways of (post-colonial) understanding. This whole notion of post-colonialism is perhaps another node for discourse, as it could be argued that the mainstream is still hanging on to the 'coat-tails' of the imperial system.

However the song brings a sense of hope, in that sharing is still there for those who are open to alternative value systems and beliefs. Allowing me to understand that historicism is purely subjective and that the dynamic nature of Life also brings with it the opportunity for new ways to embrace the wisdom that was once deemed 'primitive'. Resistance to the imposition of dominant ideologies may be considered 'political literature' but it is necessary to illustrate how far from the truth the colonization has brought us as a nation.

This piece of music was performed at Kev Carmody's, Cannot buy my Soul' Concert by Aboriginal artist, Dan Sultan alongside Scott Wilson. The whole concert was a collaboration with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists. It was very poignant to observe that music has the ability to become a vehicle of transformation, a musical and poetic discourse; transforming the 'status quo' and giving the audience not just entertainment but opportunities for learning and growth.


This Land is Mine, 'Cannot Buy My Soul, the songs of Kev Carmody' 2007, Audio CD, EMI Music Australia.

Langton, M, 1993,' Well I heard it on the radio, and I saw it on the television...' an essay for the Australian Film Commission on the politics and aesthetics of filmaking by and about Aboriginal people and things, Australian Film Commission, North Sydney.

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