PANEL 9: INDIGENOUS VOICES

Seminar Room 2, 13:00- 14:30
Chair: Priyanka Shivadas

 

Crossing the Categories of Art and Identities: The Analysis of the Problems of Aboriginal Artistic Classification in Australia
Irina Samsonova, PhD candidate, Australian National University

It is confusing that after so many years after the recognition of Aboriginal artistic creativity by the artistic authorities, galleries, and the Australian public, many Aboriginal artists continue to experience discomfort with the way they or their works are perceived by the public. The Aboriginal status of the artists seems to imply certain limitations on their creativity as Australian and international audiences, as well as many galleries and art dealers, still hold on to the image of Aboriginal art as ‘traditional’ and historic in scope. This paper investigates the complexities of the artistic classification of the artists, whose works and racial identities cannot be definitively classified as European or Aboriginal. I analyse this problem studying five case-studies through the lens of Douglas’ (1966) theory of purity and pollution and Goffman’s (1956) impression management. I propose that problems with the classification of cross-cultural artists are the consequence of the direct connection between art and ethnic identities of the artists. Such strategy of the artistic categorisation simplifies the richness and diversity of Australian art and contributes to the increasing number of art professionals whose art could not be appropriately classified. To address this issue, I propose that we must stop viewing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal categories of Australian art as a binary between Aboriginal and Euro-Australian art, and move to a model that recognises a spectrum of contemporary Australian art which embraces different gradations of influence and inspiration.

Irina Samsonova is an international PhD student at the Australian National University, College of Arts and Social Sciences. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in the University of Adelaide, in 2018. After that she transferred to the Australian National University where she was awarded with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours degree (First Class). Currently, Irina is pursuing her PhD in urban Aboriginal art and culture. The life and the struggles of Indigenous nations in multicultural countries concern her deeply, as Irina is a Yakut person, a representative of native peoples of Russian Siberia. Irina is interested in anthropological research of Aboriginal art; comparative studies of Australian Aboriginal art and art of other indigenous nations; problems and challenges of newly emerging branches of urban Aboriginal art and its integration into the wider urban pop-culture.

 


 

An Indigenous Science of Virtues
Aileen Marwung Walsh, PhD candidate, Australian National University

The role of virtues language for the healthy maintenance of country has not been properly considered before. Yet I argue it is virtues towards country that has enable Aboriginal cultures to maintain and sustain a healthy relationship with country and thus a country that flourished, until colonisation. Using ethnographic and descriptive materials of Aboriginal people from Daisy Bates and other colonisers, my research links the role of virtues with the work of Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. The study of virtues is generally relegated to the disciplines of philosophy and religion, yet as the discipline of psychology has discovered, virtues are necessary for human physical and emotional well-being. Human’s doing virtues are the means by which humans stay safe. Europeans stopped applying virtues to country a long time ago and consequently, the uglier emotions of greed and fear have flourished leading to the ruination of the planet. A consideration of virtues language in relation to country needs to be considered in a systematic, and perhaps scientific way, because virtues need to be balanced. It is the balance of virtues between humans and country and between humans individually and culturally that will provide a more concrete way of proceeding in protecting country.

Aileen Marwung Walsh is a Noongar and Spinifex Anangu woman from Western Australia currently an ARC Laureate Doctoral Candidate in history at ANU, researching the importance of relationships for Aboriginal people.

 


 

Mipella isi man: Kalam’s eschewing of modern witchcraft related violence
Inge Riebe, PhD Candidate, Australian National University

Witchcraft and sorcery related violence in Papua New Guinea has increased in the last decade. Attempts at legal solutions have not been successful and the Sorcery Act 1971 was repealed in 2013. The violence courts mainly deal with is against accused witches or sorcerers. The importance of understanding the traditional belief systems in their own contexts has been stressed by anthropologists. I am looking at this issue in relation to the Kalam, a Highland community of the Bismark-Schraeder Ranges. The Kalam have not returned to violence since their last open fight in 1956, the time of ‘pacification’ by the colonial regime. My understanding is based on intensive study of the Kalam ‘payback’ killing system which incorporated homicide and witchcraft killings, and its transformation after colonial pacification. I look at why Kalam, who retain a belief in witchcraft, have not turned to violent action in conflicts, including in relation to witchcraft, either in their home area nor in their urban settlements. The Kalam traditional system was impacted, as were others, by government power, mission Christianity, and the introduced capitalist economic system. From these interactions, Kalam effected a containment of violence in their modern world. I consider the application of Kalam concepts of accountability, reciprocity, compensation, and their view of correct societal and personal behaviour to this process of containment. Kalam themselves are aware of the distinction between themselves and other Highlanders they interact with and I include some of their own analysis for the differences in relation to witchcraft and violence.

Inge Riebe did anthropological field work in Papua New Guinea from 1965 to 1980. The bulk of that time was spent among the Kalam of the Bismark Schraeder Ranges, with some time in Gazelle peninsular, Uneapa Island and the Gira River in the Northern District. She received Master of Arts (First Class Honours) in Anthropology in 1974 based on her Kalam field work. She continued field-work among Kalam with an ANU scholarship. She subsequently worked in Australia, mainly with the Bundjalung of Northern NSW but also with other communities in NSW and Southern Queensland. She is currently completing her PhD at ANU based on Kalam research from 1975-1979.


 

Emotions in the Memory of the Chilean Dictatorship
Nicolas Villarroel Guerra, PhD Candidate, Australian National University 

The memory of the Chilean dictatorship is a field of struggle of different ideological positions. Despite the efforts of the State for reconciliation among Chileans, differences in remembering and forgetting persist, because the meaning of the dictatorship for Chileans today is not a settled dispute. Memory, as a practice of making meaning of the past in the present, is also an affective practice. Recent theoretical trends in affect studies emphasize that affect or emotion is crucial in the activity of making meaning. Without emotions, we would not be able to orient ourselves or make sense of any situation. In that sense, memory is not a mere intellectual evaluation, but is an affective evaluation of the past in the present, anticipating future paths via imagination. Thus, my project aims to attend to the affective dynamics that shape the ways in which Chileans do memory. Specifically, I intend to research this with Chilean communities that migrated to Australia before and after the 1973 coup, and compare this with Chileans that currently reside in Chile. I will include participants with different ideological, generational and gender positions. The methodological approach is qualitative, in which I will invite participants to tell me their histories of the dictatorship using objects that have meaning for them in relation to the topic. With this framing, I want to make salient the mediated aspects of memory, and the affective practices of engaging with virtual others when making meaning of the past in the present.

Nicolas Villarroel Guerra is a psychologist with a masters’ degree in community and social psychology from the School of Psychology of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He is currently undertaking a PhD. in the “Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Research” program in the Research School of Humanities, in the College of Arts and Social Sciences in the Australian National University. His current research aims to understand, from a dialogical and sociocultural approach, the relations of affect in the memory of the Chilean dictatorship.