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Research Briefings

Commonwealth Intercultural Arts Network

Research Briefing 1 

Dr. Michelle Tomlinson, from Griffith University, is proposing ongoing research building on her recently completed PhD. In order to pursue this research further, she is interested in exploring possible collaboration and opportunities for research funding through Cambridge University. This research will explore the following question:

• How do diverse children's interdisciplinary arts inventions translate into pedagogic practices and evaluation in music and literacy learning as a milieu for change?

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Research Briefing 2

Andrew Blackburn and Jean Penny are working on a major Malaysian government funded research project currently underway at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia1. The project examines “The Imaginary Space” between Malaysian musical culture and Western musique-mixte (music for instruments and live electronics) and is exploring new ways of acquiring knowledge of intercultural connections and understanding through the creation and performance of new music.

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Research Briefing 3

Alan Crawford, music teacher and musician, is working on a research project considering intercultural creativities in the muscial practices of a selection of exceptional performers and composers from diverse cultural traditions and geographical backgrounds, examining intercultural collaboration and creativity. The research findings will be used to inform pedagogy in music education at both secondary and HE level.

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Research Briefing 4

Exploring democracy: Conceptions of immigrant students' development of musical agency
From 2009 to 2011, Sidsel Karlsen, professor of music education at Hedmark University College, conducted a study on multicultural music education in the Nordic countries. The project sought to explore the phenomenon of immigrant students' musical agency, looking particularly at the kinds of understandings of teachers and students regarding the development of musical agency.

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Research Briefing 5

First Peoples Service Learning Project Australia 2012-2014
Research Team: Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Dawn Bennett, Anne Power, Kathryn Marsh, Naomi Sunderland

Building on four years of work in Central and Western Australia, this project takes students from three different universities to work with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities on service learning projects in the arts.

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Research Briefing 6

Reversing the gaze: an Indigenous perspective on museums, cultural representation and the equivocal digital remnant.

Dr Sandy O'Sullivan, Arc Senior Indigenous Researcher

The project aims to explore the capacity of nationally-significant museums in Australia, the United States of America and Great Britain to incorporate their own Indigenous and First Peoples' stories, engagement and representations into their programs.  The project in particularly concerned with examining best-practice examples and the ways that technology has been used to relocate stories and encourage participation by communities.

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Research Briefing 7

Improvisation as a methodology of intercultural dialogue

Toby Wren, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

Toby is a PhD candidate at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, supervised by Vanessa Tomlinson and Dan Bendrups. Toby is an improvising musician who works in contemporary jazz and intercultural projects with Carnatic musicians. His research proposes a critical theory and methodology for intercultural music making and an ethnography of his own work with South Indian Carnatic musicians.

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Bridging the gap to those who lack: intercultural education in the light of modernity and the shadow of coloniality

Robert Aman, Linköping University, Sweden

Abstract: Academic courses on interculturality have become a rapidly growing discipline in the West, where supranational bodies such as the European Union and UNESCO promote intercultural education as a path towards improved global cultural relations. Through interviews with students who completed a university course on interculturality, this essay investigates the tenets of interculturality and problematises whether this discourse merely reproduces a classificatory logic embedded in modernity that insists on differences among cultures. The argument put forward is that in the analysed context, interculturality tends to reproduce the very colonial ideas that it seeks to oppose. In doing so, interculturality reinforces the collective ‘we’ as the location of modernity by deciding who is culturally different and who is in a position that must be bridged to the mainstream by engaging in intercultural dialogue.

Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 2013, Volume 21, Issue 2, 279-297, available from:

Indigenising research through a/r/tography: A case study of a collaborative filmmaking project in Papua New Guinea

Verena Thomas, Centre for Social and Creative Media, University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Abstract:  This paper examines the use of a/r/tographic methodologies within the context of an indigenous research approach in the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea. The visual arts have played a prominent role in Papua New Guinea’s cultural history. They have served social functions of establishing and expressing community relations and
of collective decision-making processes. In the West however, Papua New Guinea art has been interpreted differently. Its social function is often ignored, removing objects from their context. Similarly, research in PNG, impacted by the introduction of an Anglo-European educational model during the time of colonization, has lacked engagement with artistic forms of knowing and learning.

Through the case study of a filmmaking workshop with teaching students in their roles as artists/researchers/teachers, I will explore how artistic process can enhance the way research is undertaken with Papua New Guinean communities. A Melanesian way of filmmaking is proposed and explored, while examining values of relationships, reciprocity and collective memory. These values are played out in the collaborations of artists and their relations with members of the participating communities.

The paper proposes a/r/tographic research as a way to de-westernise research methods, and to engage in a process that gives voice to indigenous communities. Student researchers/artists are engaged in producing artistic collaborations that reflect Papua New Guinean community life. The documentary films produced through the project counter dominant representations of Papua New Guinean rural communities and propose new ways of thinking about how research is undertaken
in Melanesia.

UNESCO Observatory: Multi-Disciplinary Journal in the Arts, Volume 3, Issue 1, University of Melbourne, available from: