Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Teaching About Ferals

In the mid 1990s I was out and about in the bush and inner city with the ferals of Australia. Now I am teaching Swedish people about the culture:

In The Hunter a group of colourful people visit the home, camping in the yard in buses and a tipi. These characters are ferals.

The feral subculture is a counter-cultural social movement originating in the latter part of the twentieth century, mainly centered in Australia. The movement reached its media heyday in the mid 1990s, in parallel with other similar movements in Europe and elsewhere. In common with those movements, the feral phenomenon can be seen as part of the wider counterculture. In Australasia, the ferals are often seen as an amalgam of the punk and hippie subcultures, with a radical environmental philosophy. The movement, during the 1990s, was the subject of national attention, and as a phenomenon has been the subject of anthropological attention as a characteristically Australian "alternative lifestyle".

"So what constitutes the feral spectacle? They are often talented musicians, didj players, artists, dressed in recycled garb, dreadlocked, adorned with multiple piercings and folk-jewellery: feathers, birds feet, skulls and umbilical-cord necklaces (feralia). A wild rustic appearance is desirable. For many, this transpires as fabrics fade and hair tangles in unkempt locks. Others will go to great lengths to achieve a turbulent look - a 'cultivated crustiness' (Hetherington 1996a:43). The feral rig is an ensemble of materials discovered dada-esque in garage sales, op' shops, or fashioned from the hide of road-kill or dead animals found in the bush. Outfits range from the sartorial splendour of brightly imbued and offbeat garments, to dirty green and brown hued favourites. Army great coats with personalised patches sewn on the rear are not uncommon, nor are silken night dresses and fairy wings. They revel in an iconography of otherness and authenticity. The identification with various indigenous peoples and historical cultures - their cosmologies, rituals and artefacts - is apparent in multiple appropriations. " - The Feral Spectacle

"Going Tribal", a documentary by Light Source Films, examined the subculture in 1995.
The feral movement is strongly associated with radical environmentalism and a communal lifestyle, with many members residing on multiple occupancy properties. In common with the hippies before them, many members of the feral movement rely on a system of crash pads, squats, and extended networks of "friends of friends" throughout Australia to travel with a minimum of financial outlay. Although the itinerant lifestyle and environmental beliefs most associated with the feral movement are akin to those of the earlier hippie movement, the ferals adopted a confrontational, politically charged style of dress, music, and philosophy more often associated with the punk movement.


Lorena said...

these people also make a pilgrimage every year to the Oregon Country Fair, sans the accent. Perhaps genetic testing will reveal the "missing link" somewhere amongst the tribe

Anonymous said...

where cld i get a copy of this documentary?

((Jim)) said...

I don't know where you can get a copy of it.

Anonymous said...

thanks anyway:)