A Short Essay on Monsters, Birds, and Sounds of the Uncanny
The crux of this essay is that birdsong—something generally thought of a pleasing and enjoyable—can function, in certain contexts, as an indexical sign of the presence of evil in the world. I narratively contrast notions of the unknown as eerie with the uncanny at home, while simultaneously extending the notion of home to the world though ethnographic examples from fieldwork with Warlpiri people in central Australia. I explore the links between sounds and the uncanny, putting forward that what constitutes the uncanny is culturally specific, and highlight this point through contextualising and contrasting the central Australian case with examples from elsewhere: the Middle Ages, colonial Australia, Horror movies, and so on.
Keywords: sounds and the uncanny, ethno-ornithology, Aboriginal Australia, horror, bird song