Georgia Curran

After finishing my BA (Hons) in 2002 at the University of Queensland for a thesis concerning the linguistic prehistory of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria region of Australia, I moved to Bourke in western NSW to work for Muda Aboriginal Corporation. I spent two years developing language resources for the Wangkumara language which has not been spoken fluently by anyone for over two decades. This language had however been recorded extensively on tape and held a place in the memory of many people living in Bourke. Alongside intensive transcription work of this recorded language, I worked on developing oral histories with the older generation of Wangkumara people. In collaboration with younger Wangkumara language workers and teachers I developed a working dictionary and grammar for this language and teaching resources including radio programs and primary school teaching resources.

I began my PhD fieldwork in 2005 and lived in the Aboriginal settlement of Yuendumu in Central Australia for 17 months from late 2005 until 2007. This research was connected to an ARC Linkage Project entitled Warlpiri Songlines: Anthropological, linguistic and indigenous perspectives. For this research I worked in close collaboration with many Warlpiri people recording, transcribing and translating songlines and documenting the rich ethnographic details surrounding their performance in ritual. My PhD thesis, which I submitted in 2010 was entitled Contemporary Ritual Practice in an Aboriginal Settlement: the Warlpiri Kurdiji Ceremony and focused on a detailed ethnographic account of a ceremony used for boys to become men which was held several times over the summer months in which I lived in Yuendumu.

Currently living in Sydney and as the mother of two young boys (and another baby on the way!), I am in an interim stage of my early career. Over these years, alongside parenting duties, I have held several consultancy and casual teaching positions as well as focusing on the preparation of a monograph based on my thesis research and other associated journal papers and book chapters. I also have received funding as of 2012 from Indigenous Languages Support and Northern Territory Arts Board to compile a series of audio-books which detail the rich knowledge encoded in the language and performance of Warlpiri women’s songs. The first of these entitled Warlpiri women’s Jardiwanpa yawulyu will be published later this year.

Research interests

Aboriginal Australia, Warlpiri people, song language, ritual, symbolism, linguistic anthropology, anthropology of music


Forthcoming (2013) Warlpiri women’s Jardiwanpa yawulyu. Alice Springs: Batchelor Press.

Forthcoming (2013) The Dynamics of Collaborative Research Relationships: Examples from the Warlpiri Songlines Project. Collaborative Anthropologies 6.

2011 The ‘Expanding Domain’ of Warlpiri Initiation Ceremonies. In Ethnography and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge: Essays in Honour of Nicolas Peterson, pp. 39-50, edited by Yasmine Musharbash and Marcus Barber. Canberra: ANU ePress.

2010 Linguistic Imagery in Warlpiri Songs: Some examples of Metaphor, Metonymy and Image-Schemata in Minamina yawulyu. Australia Journal Linguistics 30 (1): 105 -115.
(Special edition on the Language of Song, edited by Myfany Turpin and Tonya Stebbins).

In preparation

Making Young Men in Yuendumu Today (single-authored monograph)