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Binare option 602 freight, Culture and Indigenous Philosophy. Fiona Nicoll University of Queensland. This review will critically evaluate two recent texts by white academics working across disciplines of cultural studies, history and anthropology and published by UNSW Press, which share a focus on the relationship between Aboriginality, Philosophy, Place and Time in Australia. I write from the position of a binare option 602 freight white academic committed to engaging politically and intellectually with the challenge of Indigenous sovereignties binare option 602 freight this place while also aware that my position as a middle class white woman and intellectual imposes limits on what it is possible for me binare option 602 freight know about Indigenous epistemologies see Moreton-Robinson, In the course of this review I will demonstrate how anthropology's tendency to fix its objects of study within a circumscribed space of 'difference' limits the capacity of texts produced within this discipline to account for racialized struggles over sovereignty.
Ancient and Modern has an unconventional format of presentation, being divided into four main sections, with eight sub-sections in each varying in length anywhere from 1 binare option 602 freight 11 pages. Muecke's writing style recalled to me ethnographic accounts of the trickster in Indigenous American cosmology see Radin A liminal component of the social fabric who is variously visible, invisible, outrageously transgressive and profoundly wise, the trickster is at once every-person and no-person, a creator-being and destructive force, vested with great powers and childishly irresponsible all at once.
While this authorial persona makes for an often engaging, if disjointed, reading, it also makes it extremely challenging to take the reader binare option 602 freight an easy walk through this text. I found that it was often only in the spaces between sub-sections that I was able to draw some conclusions about what Muecke's understanding of philosophy might mean for political struggles on the ground of Indigenous sovereignties. I noted five definitions of philosophy in the book but there are certainly more: Insofar as this works to breaks down existing Eurocentric understandings of Aboriginality and philosophy, it is a productive move, an attempt to suspend the reader's existing knowledge of 'how the world works' 3 while refusing to 'establish models or methodologies for an indigenous philosophy However, the author also seems determined to attach the terms 'Indigenous' and 'Philosophy' to binare option 602 freight particular subjects, situations, texts and moments.
Indigenous philosophy is initially defined in extremely general terms as ' Later it is variously defined as the thought produced by a 'contingent situation' and a 'helpmeet' — ; as embedded in the erotically charged writings of a white anthropologist or the descriptions of an excited Indigenous 'informant' and as 'a thing of today' The book is extensively end-noted there are notes but its field of reference is quite narrow, binare option 602 freight the bibliography less 'select' than a 'selective' list of authors within a field that spans contemporary 'Aboriginalism' and its critique.
The text's central argument, taken from Dipesh Chakrabarty's Provincialising Europe is that it is time the modernity of non-European cultures and subjects was acknowledged and Europe's claim to be the site of modernity was unsettled once and for all. Gilles Delueze's redeployment of vitalist philosophy and Michael Taussig's account of mimesis and state fetishism provide other recurring theoretical strands. Out of about 86 references, only about 14 are apparently by Indigenous authors.
Due to this limited scope of Indigenous academic references, Indigenous philosophy is often presented either through the lens of Muecke's previous work on the thought of Paddy Roe in Reading the Binare option 602 freight and other publications or through the texts binare option 602 freight white European and Australian anthropologists and philosophers.
In this context, the arguments he refuses to engage in particular critical theories of whiteness and the Indigenous academics he ignores like sociologist and critical whiteness theorist, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, and legal theorist, Irene Watson, both of whom have made significant contributions to our understanding of Indigenous and non-Indigenous philosophies and sovereignties are as formative as the arguments and academics with which he engages most deeply.
His focus on an older and in some instances illiterate generation of male Indigenous philosophers binare option 602 freight uneasily with his claim that Indigenous philosophy is a 'thing of today' and made me wonder why Muecke doesn't engage more with a generation of university educated Indigenous academics who are working within and upon every discipline in the humanities and social sciences. The problem with this limited range of Indigenous academic reference is that it tends to obscure the senses in which Indigenous Australia was and is a multi-national society within which total consensus over philosophy or other matters is rarely achieved and should hardly binare option 602 freight expected.
Ancient and Modern begins by addressing the binare option 602 freight debates of the 'history wars' over the past decade and advocating a 'return to place'. He explains his own refusal to 'be a historian' with reference to the argument of religious scholar, Tony Swainwho researches Indigenous 'cargo cults', that ' Muecke builds on Swain's argument to claim:. From the beginning, history has been wielded against Aboriginal peoples as something they, along with other non-Western peoples lacked.
And much more recently too as something they, binare option 602 freight with their sympathetic historians failed to get right There was no traditional indigenous history in the sense of a set of texts setting out a linear chronology of events. Binare option 602 freight as we have seen there certainly was, and is, a radically different sense of time in its graphical and ceremonial forms, which are ways of connecting past events to ones taking place in the here and now Binare option 602 freight Aboriginal peoples and the colonisers had radically different philosophical orientations.
Let us hazard that, while Aboriginal people were anchored by place, the Europeans were busy marking time If I were to risk a generalisation I would say that Aboriginal philosophy is all binare option 602 freight keeping things alive in their place While this rationalisation of the author's refusal to enter the terrain of history wars is quite neat, it fails binare option 602 freight address the sense in which white academic discourse has precisely been about keeping Aboriginal people and philosophy respectively in their places against Indigenous sovereignty claims which call for non-Indigenous Australians to give ground.
Rather than acknowledging a plurality of possible relationships with place and time, Muecke seems here to reinforce the very distinction between time and place which was and is an indispensable condition for the establishment and maintenance both of a national history and a racialised regime of property ownership.
My unease with Muecke's emphasis on binare option 602 freight rather than 'history' as the ground of reconciliation increased with the following claim: It is not just the scare-quotes around sovereignty—as though the very concept was provisional rather than the institutionalised root of Indigenous dis-placement past and present—that is problematic here. It is Muecke's assertive claim that there is a fundamental 'division in Indigenous communities'—on one hand—and his failure to address the similarly and necessarily ambivalent position of non-Indigenous Australians in relation to the question of sovereignty—on the other.
Like other commentators on recent debates between Henry Reynolds and Keith Windschuttle, Muecke fails to address the fact that Windschuttle prefaced his declaration of history wars in an article titled 'The Break-Up of Australia' published in Quadrant September This article was explicitly designed to resolve the unsettled status of Aboriginal rights in political and legal institutions through a sustained attack on the very concept of Indigenous sovereignty.
When Muecke passes so lightly over the issue of sovereignty, as the central stake in the history wars, on the basis that Indigenous people are divided between 'reformists' and 'radicals', he paradoxically fails to register the very reason 'place' has become such a central issue in cultural and political negotiation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The further I plunged into the book, the more I became aware of the author's professional and personal attachment to the role of textualizing Indigenous Australia for the benefit of largely non-Indigenous readerships. This seemed positively perverse in relation to the inventor, author and preacher, David Binare option 602 freight, whose collected works Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines Muecke co-edited with Adam Shoemaker Rather than an intellectual whose thought might be productively engaged with, Muecke's Unaipon appears as a spectacular object or image.
In accounting for Unaipon's performative intervention into historical pageantry as part of a Ngarrindgerri tour of Tasmania inhe writes ' The demand for performance is something that dogs every indigenous person in such situations, making everyday life hard to find in public Some binare option 602 freight us are a continuation, down through history of these "inquisitive white attendants' pondering how to write this event up in a way that does justice to His broader argument, that we should see Unaipon as an exemplary instance of Indigenous philosophy as 'cultivation', is well made but the absence of discussion of Unaipon's writings as a key part of this cultivation is curious.
I wondered whether the 'difference' Muecke wishes to make of Indigenous philosophy is irretrievably complicated by engagement with texts written by some of the Indigenous people that he presents as its exemplars? To the extent that this is the case, Muecke's broader argument about the modernity of Indigenous philosophy seems to be seriously undermined.
The subsection concludes with a discussion of Unaipon's capture as a head on the nation's currency:. It is the task of cultural workers, I think, to fill out the meanings of such symbols. Where the official symbols tend to the deadly earnest and ponderous, somehow the filling out might be able to aspire to the light and satirical, the human, in other words, making David Unaipon count for more than just a token position on the 50, making his image count in other ways that resonate through society In this account, Indigenous sovereignty is given— albeit ponderously and earnestly—by the binare option 602 freight and 'cultural workers' are left with the task of filling out the human dimension of Unaipon, a task that Muecke has earlier performed for us.
Following a description of the funeral of his long-term friend and teacher, Paddy Roe, Muecke finds new significance in his own paternity, and ends 'Devastation', the final subsection in TIME, with the following sentence: I was unconvinced by this implicit comparison between the Indigenous responsibility to reproduce as a means of cultural and political survival and the author's own investments in reproduction as a 'grumpy' white middle-class beneficiary of Indigenous dispossession.
In particular I wondered why there wasn't acknowledgement in this context of the incommensurability between white and black paternities, illustrated by the tragedy of the stolen generations of Indigenous children as well as the current pathologization of Indigenous parenting within political and media discourses.
Having concluded the previous section positioning himself as a 'friend' following in the steps of David Unaipon, Muecke commences COUNTRY, with an account of a queer white woman anthropologist's description binare option 602 freight sexual approaches that Aboriginal women made to her in the field As with the implicit comparison he draws between his paternity and Paddy Roe's, Marie Reay's account is equated with Muecke's own experiences. He then recalls the two prohibitions with which he was sent binare option 602 freight the field by his department's senior professor as a young anthropologist at University of Western Australia: He continues to explain the approaches Aboriginal women in Perth made to him in the s in terms of ' Getting married in this case, is not just pairing off, it is, in a way, sharing each other' I found this discussion of binare option 602 freight between sexuality, politics, anthropology and philosophy unsatisfying.
Apart from complicating the simple parallels binare option 602 freight draws between straight and queer white subjectivities in the field, I wanted Muecke to pursue the corollary of his rejection of these advances; to explore his own role in reproducing the Indigenous as the "site of the nation's founding repression" Two questions in particular arise: And; why did he not question or disobey the advice of his professor? COUNTRY develops into a discussion of landscape in Australian painting and cinema using Foucault's concept of the 'heterotopia', which disrupts Cartesian space and thought.
Phillip Noyce's acclaimed feature film Backroads starring Tent Embassy activist, Gary Foley, is explored and there is a discussion of an extract of the script of a scene shot in a car travelling between two different plot locations containing the improvised contributions made by Foley and fellow actor, Bill Hunter.
For me the demonstration of how this scene works as a heterotopia through the interaction of direction, Aboriginal country and Western soundtrack, improvised dialogue and cinematography is a high point of the book: What the discussion of the film fails to do, however, in emphasising Noyce's self-effacing method of direction, is to adequately account for the director's agency in circumscribing Foley's agency as an activist and an actor.
And I think this is linked to Muecke's inability or unwillingness to register the mutually constitutive relationship between whiteness and racism in Australia. To the extent that he wants to use the film to critique the self-righteousness of much anti-racist critique, he is unable to binare option 602 freight aspects of this text that are simultaneously over-determined by whiteness and disruptive of conventional anti-racist critiques.
After making brief reference to Marcia Langton's description of Australian binare option 602 freight as "arguably the most important literature in our history"Muecke describes an account by the 'perfectly bilingual' TGH Strehlow of an Arrente creation myth and men's initiation ceremony as a literary "gem" that seems to 'empathise with an Indigenous philosophy Building on this metaphor of mineral resources, the author goes on to discuss Yarralie, a novel by Donald Stuart about how a "growing girl" in North West Australia, the daughter of a white father and Garadjeri mother who binare option 602 freight both prospectors, is helped by a line of black ants to find gold.
Having equated the literary imagination of ethnography with Indigenous philosophy and, in turn with, Stuart's novel's description of the 'golden shine, which unites body and place as of course Aboriginal philosophy does 'Muecke concludes the subsection:.
So from those early days when whites and blacks, separately or together, made their lives nomadic in search of sudden wealth or, more likely, bare subsistence on the prospecting trails, we can shoot forwards sideways, perhaps; the fossickers are still there to the situation where the big businesses of extraction of mineral wealth still depend on indigenous cooperation As with a previous claim that ' The European institutions are starting to learn how to follow' 60Muecke's picture of mining companies dependent on Indigenous cooperation glosses the crucial issue of consent.
I would argue that this optimism is unwarranted on both counts: In the next subsection on Noel Pearson's elaboration and promotion of an 'Indigenous capitalism' combining a focus on Aboriginal 'responsibilities' with Aboriginal 'rights', Muecke directly addresses some of the issues raised by his "struggle with the topic of Aboriginal philosophy. I eventually came to see that it would be too hard for a white boy to do anything really strong; I could only approach the topic with a kind of humility because while there is something "out there" that is the accumulated wisdom of countless generations of Aboriginal peoples' living in their places: In any case, Jackie had a strong position on knowledge relations He follows this with a quote in which Huggins refuses to accept any non-Indigenous definitions of Aboriginality and with some further reflections on the difference between 'the fixity of knowledge recorded in texts' and the 'dynamic and continuous flux of process'.
This makes me think that Muecke may have missed Huggins' point: Having made this declaration of humility as a 'white boy', Muecke's discussion returns to the white ethnographic record, tracing themes of masculinity, sexuality, sacrifice and law binare option 602 freight the texts of Strehlow, WEH Stanner and Michael Taussig.
At this late stage, we also discover that the book is part of a broader struggle with Stanner over the respective definitions of Aboriginal 'religion' and 'philosophy' and that it is Muecke's aim to extend the scope of 'philosophy' to encompass the 'magico-religious forces observable in the rituals, and the cultural poesis, of non-state societies' Yet this reader found it difficult to find a trace binare option 602 freight humility in the claims of StannerTaussigJose Gil or Muecke made on behalf of the values and epistemologies of Indigenous peoples nor is there any attempt at least in the passages cited to explore their own investments, as researchers and privileged citizens of States founded on Indigenous dispossession, in what Taussig describes as ' Muecke concludes the discussion by remarking on the unfinished business of commemorating Aboriginal warriors and taking comfort from the 'resurgence of the power of Aboriginal rituals and of Aboriginality in rituals' as an indication that 'minor philosophies not only survive, but they are also the seeds of future thought' I found this conflation between the 'power of Aboriginal rituals' and 'Aboriginality in rituals' misleading to the extent that the latter rituals being referred to are those of the white nation state.
For, if we accept that 'Aboriginal power haunts Australian politics like a spectre', might the white nation not use 'Aboriginality in [its] rituals' against the 'power of Aboriginal rituals' in a malevolent form of mimesis? Binare option 602 freight articulating an account of State power as simultaneously universalising the Law of the Father and racializing Indigenous male initiation ceremonies are cited as the exemplary and ideal form of this Law Muecke relies heavily on Taussig's account of state fetishism as ambivalently binare option 602 freight and homoerotic.
However the homoerotic aspects touched on by the latter remain unexplored by the former. Instead, Binare option 602 freight own fetishism the object of Brook Andrew's queer critique in Sexy and Dangerous reproduced on the book's cover not only appears to be 'deadly earnest and ponderous'; it also produces dubious parallels between 'rivers of blood' in Aboriginal creation stories and initiation ceremonies as recounted by white anthropologists—on one hand—and the sacred sacrifice at the heart of Binare option 602 freight mythology and ritual—on the other.
As though the violent and generative qualities attributed to the phallus provided a universal ground of commensurability binare option 602 freight white and Indigenous existence in this place.
Having established foundations of power and knowledge in the universal law of gender difference, subjectivity and knowledge, it is a small step for Muecke to claim for the project of 'deconstruction' 'Boxer' a Kalkatungu man whose life and philosophy binare option 602 freight been represented by Mary Durack on whose east Kimberly station he grew up and workedTony Swain and Tim Rowse Boxer's appropriation of Christian texts and ritual becomes a means by which Muecke illustrates Jacques Derrida's theory of the generative and morally ambivalent power of politics and language within which all subjects are constrained:.
Those doing the politics are working within and continually on the symbolic violence of colonial history, in which that history can never be a purely whitefella imposition nor a purely blackfella revolution from the other side The problem with this formulation of parallels between deconstruction and Aboriginal politics is that it seems to assume a that a 'pure Aboriginal position' is being asserted by critics 'of what is going on in Aboriginal politics' in the first instance and b that the binare option 602 freight of such a 'pure Aboriginal' position licences or even necessitates critiques of Aboriginal binare option 602 freight.
Both binare option 602 freight fail to register that critiques of Aboriginal critiques as "nativist" authored by white Australians are themselves complicit with 'the colonial violence that created the need for them binare option 602 freight the first place'