Daniel Fisher

Affiliated Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology

Department of Music


My research in Aboriginal Northern Australia proceeds in two, related domains that bring together my interests in music, media, and the close ethnography of an urbanising Northern Territory. The first looks to the tremendous successes of Aboriginal media production in order to understand its ramifications across Australia’s north. In privileging music and sound in this work I seek to analyze the power of audio media as an everyday presence in Aboriginal lives and to relate this to both enduring and historically emergent understandings of relatedness and of mediation itself. My research thus explores filmic and audio media making as political practices while seeking to keep in sight the broader ontological entailments of musical forms and media technologies in the everyday lives of my interlocutors. These closely knit endeavors provide the focus for my first monograph, The Voice and its Doubles(link is external) (2016), and continue to animate my ongoing research and writing.

My newest ethnographic research interests emerge from the amplification of indigenous urbanization in the Northern Territory and the predicaments and ironies of displacement and dispersal it entails. Attentive to the novel forms of intra-Indigenous relationship this has involved and to related transformations to both legal and ecological infrastructures, the project employs photography, film, and sound recording to produce a shared anthropology of urban Darwin. The project is supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation's Cultural Anthropology Program. 

I also pursue work with photography, ethnographic cinema, and sound production in my teaching and as a medium of knowledge production in the context of my fieldwork. I currently direct the experimental ethnography media lab, a teaching and research studio dedicated to ethnographic media in all forms. 

In addition to work in Northern Australia I have conducted research in New York City and Peru, and in 2001 produced an ethnographic documentary under the auspices of the Program in Culture and Media titled "A Cat in a Sack," focused on the performance practice of New York's Hungry March Band.