Culture crisis

Monday, 12 May 2014

 After a successful feature article on The Conversation, University of Newcastle researcher, Dr Catherine Grant, is heading to Cambodia to research three endangered Khmer musical traditions.

Dr Catherine Grant awarded humanities research fellowship

On the 7 May, Dr Grant – a researcher in the School of Creative Arts – published an article on The Conversation titled: We've Lost 98% of Indigenous Music Traditions – Who cares?

The response was overwhelming, with a large number of passionate comments from readers, social media blasts and coverage on radio from all over the country.

The benefit of keeping cultural traditions alive, said Dr Grant, is a sense of individual and community identity, as well as positive health and wellbeing outcomes.

"Now, the challenge is for us to care enough about what is happening so that we may respectfully and collaboratively take whatever action is appropriate to help recover what we – all of us – are losing," Dr Grant said in her article on The Conversation.

Dr Grant's research into this "cultural crisis" is not limited to Australian Indigenous music. After being awarded a Humanities Travelling Fellowship by Australian Academy of the Humanities, she will travel to Cambodia. During her visit, Dr Grant will assess the factors affecting the vitality three endangered Khmer musical traditions that are under threat due to socioeconomic and historical circumstances.

"From 1975 to 1979, the genocidal regime of Pol Pot brought humanitarian crisis and radical political, social, economic, environmental, religious and cultural change to Cambodia," said Dr Grant. "During this time, it is estimated that up to a quarter of the Cambodian population died, including 90 per cent of artists."

Dr Grant hopes that her research will assist the local community in Cambodia to develop the most appropriate course of action, which until now has been difficult or even impossible for lack of a unifying assessment framework.

  • Jessie Reid
  • Phone: +61 2 4921 7458

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.