a circle of Australian indigenous people sit on the ground with researcher Georgia Curran

Researcher of Indigenous Australian song receives fellowship

22 May 2023
First Robinson Fellowship for Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Dr Georgia Curran, an early career researcher, receives Robinson Fellowship for research on Indigenous Australian languages and song. It is the first Robinson Fellowship granted to Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Dr Georgia Curran working with female Warlpiri elders from Yuendumu.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music is proud to announce Dr Georgia Curran, an early career researcher, has been awarded the prestigious Robinson Fellowship for her outstanding work in the field of Aboriginal languages and song. The Fellowship, named after the University of Sydney's first Nobel Prize winner, Sir Robert Robinson, aims to support and retain exceptional early-career academics in their pursuit of teaching and research.

Dr Curran's research journey began in 2005 when she started collaborating with the Warlpiri people from communities across the Central Australian Tanami desert, particularly Yuendumu. Her research interests encompass a wide range of areas, including Aboriginal languages and music, endangered languages, musical and linguistic change, performance studies, and the revitalization of performance arts.

Dr Georgia Curran

“I am passionate about supporting community-led performance activities to sustain song traditions and the passing on of cultural knowledge to younger generation,” Dr Curran said.

“This also involves collaborative work on community-developed documentation of audio/visual materials, support for community archiving projects and repatriation of cultural heritage materials to their communities of origin.” 

One of Dr Curran's primary objectives is to support the maintenance of the cultural knowledge embedded in recorded audio/visual materials but also to ensure the sustainability of these traditions for future generations. She is dedicated to community archiving projects and the repatriation of cultural heritage materials to their communities of origin.

georgia curran in a classroom with indigenous australian elders

As an affiliate researcher with PARADISEC, Dr Curran contributes to the important work of PARADISEC in archiving languages and songs from Indigenous cultures in Australia and Oceania. She is an ARC DECRA fellow who also collaborates with Associate Professor Myf Turpin and Emeritus Professor Linda Barwick in the Northern Territory, further enriching her research endeavours.

“The Robinson fellowship will provide an opportunity to continue to support these activities in Warlpiri communities and beyond, and work closely with Warlpiri people to co-design ways to ensure the transmission of highly valued song traditions and cultural heritage to future generations,” Dr Curran said.

The fellowship will also afford Dr Curran the opportunity to advance several major publication outcomes. Currently, she is working on a monograph that delves into the experiences of specific Warlpiri women and their deep connections with song and associated places.

Professor Anna Reid, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, extended warm congratulations to Dr Curran, saying: “Dr Curran's research is of utmost significance, particularly in the context of community engagement and the transmission of cultural knowledge to future generations. Through her collaborative approach and commitment to community-led documentation and archiving, she empowers Indigenous communities to reclaim, preserve, and celebrate their cultural heritage.”

“Her research not only enriches the academic sphere but also has a profound impact on the broader community, creating opportunities for cross-cultural understanding, appreciation, and celebration,” Professor Reid said.

“Once again, congratulations to Dr Georgia Curran on this well-deserved recognition. We look forward to witnessing her continued accomplishments and the positive influence she will undoubtedly have in the field of Indigenous languages and song."