With generous support from the Alan Dundes Graduate Fellowship, Luke Patterson has been able to make an unimaginable intellectual journey halfway around the world. The first in his immediate family to graduate from high school and the first in his extended family to go on to a university, Luke grew up in New South Wales and is of Koori (Indigenous Australian) descent. At the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, he trained in classical viola performance, touring with groups in Spain, Portugal, and France. He continued on to graduate studies in linguistics and creative writing, and most recently has endeavored to help revitalize First Nation language and culture in Australia.
Background: Luke grew up in Dharawal Country in the south Sydney suburb of Kurnell, Australia. He earned his undergraduate degree in Music at the University of Melbourne, where he became interested in musicology and theory, linguistics, and Aboriginal languages in particular. He worked for the Aurora Project, which sent him around the Koori Nation in Victoria, where he became keenly interested in Aboriginal education and language revitalization. Luke’s research focuses on bioregional identities and consciousness expressed through cultural forms across borders, such as those ordinarily separating academics and performance, as well as elite and vernacular cultural spheres. His academic interests are grounded in his extensive work with Aboriginal and other community-based organizations across Australia.
In his own words: “As soon as I arrived in Berkeley and met Charles Briggs, Chair of the Folklore Master’s Program, it became apparent that my ancestry and knowledge could be brought together here, hopefully to do something positive and creative. Berkeley’s history in civil rights is another reason I came–there is a higher level of thinking here that’s not a fantasy. In my first week on campus, it’s been fun watching the teaching on campus, pedagogy that is often quite rigorous. They tell you that the learning here may hurt, but behind it is a whole lot of love as well.
It’s difficult to say what I want to do beyond Berkeley because there’s not really a name for it. I’m hoping to change the fundamental ways in which Australia sees itself and manages itself, because at this point it’s unsatisfactory with regard to indigenous rights. I want to reevaluate the education system and make sure it doesn’t just benefit people other than us. These are far off dreams of a cultural revolution, but I know it needs to begin locally, with my community and family. My dream would be to someday be sitting by a river in my country with a whole bunch of indigenous fellows speaking our own language.”
Alan Dundes, whose rigorous scholarship established folklore as an academic discipline, was a beloved Berkeley professor. Known as the Lord of Lore, his boundless enthusiasm for teaching and research helped create an exciting folklore program at Berkeley. He personally trained generations of graduate students, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in the field. In 2005, Professor Dundes unexpectedly passed away. To continue his legacy, his colleagues in the UC Berkeley Folklore Program, in collaboration with the Graduate Division, created the Alan Dundes Graduate Fellowship Fund. Every year, a committee elects one outstanding Berkeley Folklore graduate student as the Alan Dundes Graduate Fellow. Please join us in honoring the contributions of a brilliant scholar and ensuring the continued visibility and vitality of the discipline of folklore.