Dr Sudiipta Dowsett
Research Associate

Dr Sudiipta Dowsett

PhD Anthropology, UNSW,  2017

Bachelor Soc Sci Honours (1A), Macquarie University, 2006

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of the Arts & Media

I am an anthropologist with a research focus on the transformative effects of embodied collective performance practices. More specifically I am interested in the decolonial and revitalisation capacities of hip-hop cultures in South Africa and Australia.  My work explores how artists utilise hip-hop to make sense of complex neo-colonial contexts, and to revitalise language and culture, embodying and embedding ancestral art forms within the contemporary global performance culture of hip-hop, remixing, asserting and claiming their place in the world.

My PhD entitled Revolutionary but gangsta: hip-hop in Khayelitsha, South Africa (2017) documented the hip-hop scene in the township of Khayelitsha including its histories and intersections with the broader Cape Town hip-hop scenes and the development of Spaza rap - a unique form of hip-hop that emerged from the isiXhosa-speaking townships in the late 1990s. My PhD explores the affective and embodied dimensions of emceeing and developed a unique perspective of emceeing through a sensory ethnographic approach. A key underlying argument of the thesis is that there are deeper political and decolonial aspects of hip hop that can only be understood through an analysis of the productive effects of hip hop as embodied performance practice, that is, the live dynamics of embodied rhythm, sound and movement, in place.

Publications

  • Journal articles | 2021
    Dowsett SS, 2021, 'Sampling Ceremony: Hip-hop Workshops and Intergenerational Cultural Production in the Central Australian Desert', ASIA PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGY, 22, pp. 184 - 202, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2021.1914713
    Book Chapters | 2020
    Dowsett S, 2020, 'The Routes of Hip-Hop in Cape Town: Collective Performance Practices and the Embodied Sociality of the Ghetto', in Peddie I (ed.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music and Social Class, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 485 - 506
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Dowsett S, 2019, 'Transformative effects of hip-hop events in Khayelitsha, South Africa', in Walters T; Jepson AS (ed.), Marginalisation and Events, Routledge
  • Journal articles | 2021
    Dowsett SS, 2021, 'Sampling Ceremony: Hip-hop Workshops and Intergenerational Cultural Production in the Central Australian Desert', ASIA PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGY, 22, pp. 184 - 202, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2021.1914713
    Book Chapters | 2020
    Dowsett S, 2020, 'The Routes of Hip-Hop in Cape Town: Collective Performance Practices and the Embodied Sociality of the Ghetto', in Peddie I (ed.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music and Social Class, Bloomsbury, New York, pp. 485 - 506
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Dowsett S, 2019, 'Transformative effects of hip-hop events in Khayelitsha, South Africa', in Walters T; Jepson AS (ed.), Marginalisation and Events, Routledge

Awards

Grants

2023 Rebel Sistah Cypher: Hip-hop as embodied practice for social change, Early Career Research small grant scheme, Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry (ANU).

2021-2023 Lajamanu Women's Ceremony, Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Media

I am currently working as a Research Associate at the Big Anxiety Research Centre within the Ethnographic Media Lab (emLAB) on collaborative projects including:

  • ARC Linkage project Indigenous Futurity: Milpirri as Experimental Ceremony, led by Prof Jennifer Biddle, in collaboration with project partner Tracks Dance Company and Lajamanu Warlpiri community. Milpirri Festival features adults Jukurrpa (Dreaming) performances alongside youth hip-hop interpretations of Warlpiri cultural themes.
  • As a recipient of the "Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry's" Early Career Researcher Small Grant Scheme (2023) I am Chief Investigator for a collaborative project with Cape Town-based anarchist hip-hop crew, Soundz of the South. The co-designed project, entitled Rebel Sistah Cypher: hip-hop as embodied practice for social change, investigates the challenges and capacities of hip-hop for women in Khayelitsha, South Africa through collective practice-based Song Workshops.
  • Lajamanu Women's Ceremony: keeping Yawulyu strong - a co-designed project with Warlpiri women from Lajamanu and Yuendumu to develop cultural resources to support intergenerational knowledge transfer.
  • A compilation album entitled Kaltsha Kulture, set for release in 2023 by Monotoca Music, recorded in a township studio in 2011 during fieldwork for my PhD featuring collaborations with Khayelitsha hip-hop artists Metabolism, Kideo, Shadow, and Soundz of the South along with tracks by Rhamcnwa, Lemzin, Mfura, and Canon, stayed tuned!
  • The first edited collection to focus on hip-hop in Australia, co-edited with Lucas Marie, Dianne Rodger and Grant Saunders, bringing together diverse practitioner-scholar perspectives (working title: Hip-Hop Culture in Australia) under contract with Routledge Press.

 

Episode titled, On Digging up Yams of Knowledge with Wanta Steve Jampijinpa Patrick and Jerry Jangala Patrick, featured on Music! Dance! Culture! podcast co-produced with Georgia Curran and Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan.

 

Professional memberships:

International Association for the Study of Popular Music

Australian Anthropological Society

International Council for Traditional Music