John Ngunjuma Charles Divilli (Ngarinyin and Nyikina) is a youth leader, dancer and emerging singer in the Junba tradition, learning from elder Matthew Dembal Martin. Divilli has presented at conferences in the USA, Canada and Melbourne, on youth perspectives on cultural maintenance.

Sustaining Junba: A Ten Year Review of Long Term Research and Dance-Song Revitalization in Kimberly, Australia

In 2007 the Junba Project was conceived of by elder Ngarinyin practitioners of the Junba dance-song genre in conversation with ethnomusicologist Sally Treloyn, in response to a drop in youth participation and concerns for youth social and emotional wellbeing, and Treloyn’s previous research as a documenter of the Junba tradition. Since that time the Junba Project, in partnership with elder and youth leaders, the Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, and various other community organisations, with support from the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Australian Research Council, has sought to create opportunities for the identification and development of community-led approaches to sustaining the Junba tradition. Guided by a participatory research model, the project has emphasised an approach to collaboration marked by work across generations, responsiveness, reiteration, collaborative reflection, and capacity building  with an aim to identify strategies to sustain endangered Junba dance-song practices in changing twentieth and twenty-first century environments. Research has revealed an improvement in vitality markers of Junba across the ten years of the Junba Project, suggesting some of the benefits of sustained intercultural research engagement. Research has also thrown light on the complexities and impact of long-term intercultural engagement on the dance-song tradition. In this presentation, Charles, Divilli and Treloyn look upon the intertwined challenges and successes of sustaining research engagement between universities and community, and sustaining intangible cultural heritage in a particular Australian context.