Monthly Archives: February 2012

We love this place

I took this photo on the 5th July 2011 at the Manari Road Blockade north of Broome, a day later named Black Tuesday (click here for more info:

I had never read this article (from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) before and during the day kept coming back to this banner, reading, re-reading and feeling so many things. I asked myself, is there any hope that such a declaration will genuinely be acknowledged by Australian governments and corporate interests, even the populous?

On this day people from all cultural, political and economic backgrounds came together to stand up for country – more specifically, Walmadany (James Prices Point) and the west Kimberley. We were all saying by being there, that we love this country. The question I am still left with… how am I, a non-Indigenous woman, and my immaterial connections with country visible, legitimized?

I didn’t talk much that day and have not written about it at all. Although I was there I strangely felt like an observer. I heard many people tell their stories of love and connection to country to police/riot squad members, in a bid to try and speak to the compassionate being that we hope is in us all. Each story was different but all essentially tried to voice the intention, ‘I love this place. I want to stay connected.’

A hypothetical… what if we were all Indigenous? We must be from somewhere. Collective struggles against land grabbing, like the Kimberley ‘No Gas’ campaign, are being played out around the world. Enmeshed in the these collective acts of trying to ‘protect’ country must be countless stories of being with…

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Filed under The Campaign

Surrendering into deep listening

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but forgot to publish it…

A deep resonance felt in my bones since coming back home.
The Island is full of conversation,
the ocean invites me to sit and watch through the cycles of sun and moon.
The surrender I feel here in the place is deep,
a safety to unfold, unfurl and listen.   

A beautiful ABC radio documentary on listening to country… deep listening.

Yorta Yorta woman Lou Bennett talks about, “Retrieving, reclaiming, regenerating,” Indigenous languages and what they represent, a unique cultural way of listening and speaking the world into being.

“When I speak in my language, it tastes like honey…” Lou Bennett

This all takes me back to earlier exploration into how language shapes our worldview our way of being in the world.

“Language is what connects us to country…” Doris Paton

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Filed under Sound, Theory

I want to talk about discourse

Yesterday I came back to look at the agency of language, the spoken word, and how it ‘performs’ in a collective. I was thinking about the idea of discourses and how these are enacted; questioning, do they speak a worldview into existence and/or maintain it? I have been tousling with this notion of language/discourse and their agency to shape ways of being and relating for a while. Which precedes which, the culture or the language? Perhaps neither. 
Dryzek (2005: 9) offers this as his definition of discourse:
‘A discourse is a shared way of apprehending the world. Embedded in the language, it enables those who subscribe to it to interpret bits of information and put them together into coherent stories or accounts. Discourses construct meanings and relationships, helping to define common sense and legitimate knowledge. Each discourse rests upon assumptions, judgements, and contentions, that provide the basic terms for analysis, debates, agreements, and disagreements.
Is it the emerging collective stories about acts of being with country that I want to explore in my thesis? Would the idea of a discourse have anything to offer my research? 
Then these quotes (below) from Maratja and Yingiya come to mind and call into question my whole approach towards all of the aforementioned relationships between language/discourse and culture and brings people-place into the frame:
‘It’s the land which holds the sound, and then after that, we Yolŋu people. What we are talking about, is how that sound emerges‘ (Maratja in Christie, 2010: 67). 
‘The land and the language are both talking togetherLand needs its own language… If I can use the word ‘country’ this way I’m talking about the land, water cloud, wind, rain, animals, people and more. Example, wind is blowing and the waves are crashing, making a loud roar. What’s really happening there, is they are communicatingand they are singing and dancing in own clans’ language. When I sing, sing about its behaviour, swirling around and during turn of the tides, it reaches out communicating with other clans country and shares songs and dances with them’ (Guyula, 2010: personal comms.).
I thought it might be a good idea to look at what Latour (1996: online) has to say about discourses:

‘… from semiotics is kept the crucial practice to grant texts and discourses the ability to define also their context, their authors -in the text-, their readers -in fabula- and even their own demarcation and metalangage. All the problems of the analyst are shifted to the “text itself” without ever being allowed to escape into the context.’ 

Help!!! I either need to sit and contemplate this state for a while longer and have someone translate it for me. Calling all those who view with an ANT perspective!!!

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Sand dune in my mind

I left the Island a week ago, but that sand dune is still imprinted in my mind…
no, not just there.
Any time I think about an idea related to country,
it’s where I go.
You can’t see it in this picture,
it’s behind where I stand.
Lit up for just a few more moments as the sun drops.
Our friends were out as we were leaving the dune, one, two, three of them.
It’s their time.

A quiet acknowledgement and then we leave. 

Image by W Playne

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Remembering to come back to where the story actually began

I find it amusing that I periodically develop amnesia and forget what compelled me to start practicing research. Maybe I haven’t valued my story and experience; maybe I’ve somehow been embarrassed. The constant process of self-validation is one that I am becoming attuned to, recognising that I may not be an expert, but that only I can feel which ideas and pathways resonate in this process of exploration. History counts for a lot. When I lift what it is I want to explore out of the context of my professional life and personal journey, big gaping holes and questions emerge as to why it is I am following certain threads. For this reason, history is critical. So I am finally getting around to writing this story, the one that reminds me of how I got here. I think I have had such a focus on the future and what it is I want to generate that I sometimes loose this grounding. 

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Gravitating towards the act

I’m at a point in which I am questioning more deeply what it is I want to do in terms of my work. Still (and by necessity) feeling uncomfortable about wanting to work with Indigenous research participants/co-researcher. I am very conscious about the ethics of working with Indigenous people and engaging with their knowledge and beliefs… fears of unwittingly  appropriating ideas and perpetuating colonial practices. I want to find a way of collaborating with Indigenous people that comes from a place of shared possibility, respect and deep listening, where IP is maintained. I want to help conceive a narrative that is shared, that speaks about collective generative practices on being with country. 

The more I read about the ‘space between’ Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems I realise that this concept may not be the space I need to be working within. As much as I initially resisted engaging with Addelson’s ideas on Collectivist Moral Theory, I am now gravitating toward her question of ‘how do we live?’ What are we or can we be co-creating that isn’t necessarily ‘a place that lies between’? I know that M would tell me to focus on the act itself, not the time and space that presuppose the acts themselves. When I put myself in this concept now I feel like I am on the crest of a wave about to break. I can feel the power of the wave and sense the possibilities of where the wave could take me – down the face, dive under, bomb out. But the essential thing is that there is momentum, something is happening and transformation is inevitable.  

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Filed under Theory

Outgoing tide

A time of transition,
Listening for the changes.
Are we still in harmony?
Tuning in to being,
watching feeling
the space between.

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Filed under Poetry