Polyphony, polythetic practice and intercultural communication in Greek-Australian creative work

Gillian Bottomley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In polyethnic countries like Australia, multicultural policies are usually based on concepts of discrete ethnic identities. Such models are increasingly inadequate in either describing or understanding the multiplex and polythetic practices that constitute Australian society and culture. This paper will discuss aspects of Greek-Australian music and dance that negotiate polyphony in what Freud described as the agonistic process of identification. Examples will be drawn mainly from variations within Greek rebetika music and dance, in performance. The polyphonic practices discussed here are not simply aesthetic celebrations of multiculturalism, but offer what Edward Said has termed 'contrapuntal histories' that demonstrate cultural practices as 'polythetic', in Bourdieu's term, literally located in many places. Moreover, performance is not merely spectacle, but a process of intersubjectivity, hence open to a range of interpretations and recognition across difference, in forms of communication that arise from polyphony and the constant interweaving and re-translation of cultural forms, socio-historical context and personal experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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