Unfinished business: What is being recognised?

Lisa Slater

Lisa Slater

Post by Lisa Slater

Paul Keating recently weighed into the push for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stating the recognition project has lost direction. His invocation of ‘unfinished business’ was a salient reminder that the primary object of repair is the foundation of settler colonialism, and there is a need to transform the political and social relationship between Indigenous and settler Australia. What are settlers failing to see?

A few years back, I was attending Garma festival in northeast Arnhem Land, as part of a research project examining the significance of cultural festivals for improving Indigenous socio-cultural wellbeing.[1] Garma is cultural diplomacy at work: Yolhu (Traditional Owners of north-east Arnhem Land) invite government and non-government agencies, academics and political leaders onto Country to discuss and negotiate issues determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agendas. Alongside the main event, there were a series of other initiatives, one of which was a women’s cultural tourism program. I sat in on a workshop where Yolhu women were teaching Napaki (non-Indigenous) women about Yolhu kinship systems and responsibilities. Continue reading

Looking for the Heart in America

By Nick Skilton

Nick Skilton is a PhD Candidate with the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. He is currently at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

CanineSexuality and gender is something that I’ve always spent a lot of time thinking about. Even when I’ve gotten it wrong (it’s been a regular feature of my life as a kid from the suburbs), I’ve tried to use it as an experience to help me get it right. It’s been a long, rocky, weaving, disastrous and beautiful trail. I’m not saying I understand things perfectly these days – I mean, who could? – but I feel I’ve definitely found enlightenment to the point where I can approach sex and gender from both a personal and an academic place and find meaning there. Writing a PhD from a queer perspective, you spend a lot of time interrogating your own life, trying to find meaning that is academically relatable. It’s not always apparent. Often it’s completely invisible, as your life descends into a mess that academic writing can never capture or represent. But sometimes personal experience is a catalysing process that lends meaning to everything that you write about, everything that you wanted to say but lacked the embodied form that makes expression possible, every thought that inhabits your daily being and inevitably threads its meaning into academic praxis anyway, so that as ever, the two become inseparable. Continue reading