Gendered substance and objects in ritual: an Australian Aboriginal study

Deborah Bird Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The creative action of the foundational beings known as Dreamings lies at the heart of Aboriginal Australian ceremony. In ritual, gender is drawn into a nexus of generative action and interaction. I will make the case that gender characterizes country, ceremonies, many sacred sites and many objects and substances. People, country, sites and ceremonies are integral to the bringing forth of the life of the world, and draw on a root paradigm of birth. I will examine that paradigm from the perspective of gender in domains of blood, ritual, country, men and women, and objects. The analysis will show that while gender is most assuredly a difference that makes a difference, in Gregory Bateson's famous words, it is the play of difference itself that is most productively worked with in ritual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalMaterial Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal Australians
  • Ceremony
  • Fertility
  • Land claims
  • Secrecy


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