Category Archives: Posts of an unqualified kind

A sidenote and a fieldnote.

 

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It’s a strange but reassuring feeling to learn that all the data for your PhD fits neatly into two small old cases and a postal tube.

Yes, Bree of the Blakemans has been packing. She is moving interstate to take up a position working as an anthropologist in her beloved Northern Territory. What might this mean for Fieldnotes and Footnotes? Might the blog might look different from here on in, post-PhD and all? I’m not sure, to be honest. It certainly feels like the start of a whole new adventure, but I will also certainly be blogging it. Continue reading

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Quotations of note: Arundhati Roy (on writing)

 

Roy_walkingwithcomrades

 

 

‘Writers imagine that they cull stories from the world. I’m beginning to believe that vanity makes them think so. That it’s actually the other way around. Stories cull writers from the world. Stories reveal themselves to us. The public narrative, the private narrative — they colonize us. They commission us. They insist on being told. Fiction and non-fiction are only different techniques of story telling. For reasons I do not fully understand, fiction dances out of me. Non-fiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning.’

 

 

 

The full text can be found here.

Incidentally, Arundhati Roy is also (as I have learned only recently) a seriously impressive ethnographer. The featured image was taken while she was doing research for what became her recent book, ‘Walking with The Comrades.’ You can read an excerpt from this book here or alternatively listen to Arundhati read the excerpt herself – which I highly recommend – featured as a podcast (#11), here.

 

 

 

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Ouch: a pause to rest and recover

 

 

inna watjpil

 

Just a note to say that there may be a short lapse in activity on dhuwala blog, as I take time to rest and recovery after a rather unexpected surgical adventure.

After a few days of abdominal pain I recently found myself in the emergency department of the local watjpil (‘hospital’), and underwent surgery a little while later. The surgical team found a 9-10 cm contorted cyst, which had somehow wrapped itself around my left ovary+fallopian-tube seven times (no less . . . #ouch). Seems it had been impeding the flow+function of much ado in the lower abdomen for some time. Unfortunately the surgeon had to remove my left ovary along with the cyst, but the good news is that this will not affect my fertility. So goodness me, phewph and ultimately really quite yay.

And now to rest and recover.

 

Warmest of incendiary anthropological wishes,

 

Bree.

 

 

 

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Two disparate thoughts. One quotation of note.

 

Vaginia Wolf

 

‘If she is to write fiction,’ advised Virginia Woolf, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own.’ This is true (for non-fiction also). But not just any old room. It takes a very particular room. Often in a very particular place. Those unnameable variables that make the writing environment just so. And this is a quotation. Not from Virginia Woolf.

 

‘She used to often hold a book, but it was almost always shut; a tortoise shell bookmarker was shut between its pages. If you came near her she did not turn from the contemplation of her dreams to look at you.’

 

 

~ Andre Gide, Strait is the Gate (1924, p. 7).

 

 

 

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DON’T BE SILLY PLEASE poppa has asked you to do something carrying half of a sheep’s head

 

 

on saturday or sunday morning in sleeping-bags shuffling through the kitchen to the bottom-room to watch RAGE until late morning still in our sleeping-bags laughing shuffling as if we couldn’t get out if we tried but this must have been when we were still quite young really still too young to already be down the beach in the water at that hour which we would have been otherwise and when we were down on the farm in the kitchen in the morning with the Metters Stove lit with the crack in the plastered wall where the vine was growing through lit light in the morning from the sun outside and Bing cooking us porridge with wheat-germ sprinkled on top in a bowl and the milk pooled around the edges only just cool enough first and we would sometimes sneak the condensed milk from the tube in the the top shelf of the fridge-door when no one was around but it was close to Poppa’s office door and DON’T DISTURB POPPA WHILE HE’S WORKING IN THE OFFICE PLEASE KIDS which made us giggle because being naughty is always contagious so it was just as well we were happy and perhaps even waiting to be sent outside GO AND CHECK THE WATER GUAGE or marron in the dam please and take some extra dog-biscuits or I noticed that there were more green-eye’s in the orchard than is usual and you each have new rubbers on your sling-shots NO you are NOT taking the air rifle now please off you go please but don’t forget that Poppa wants you kids to help shift the sheep later please oh I don’t know probably from the white dam paddock or sometimes OH MY GOD laughing trying to make Shaun vomit because he does and he even vomited once just because I ran over dog poo with the banana skate board oh come on DON’T BE SILLY PLEASE poppa has asked you to do something carrying half of a sheep’s head each with the eyeball hanging out to feed the dogs kelpie-cross kojonup dogs but most of all treasure hunts with every riddle always rhyming because Poppa liked to sing and he probably wrote all the clues while he was working in the office yesterday and that’s why I TOLD YOU NOT TO annoy him and each riddle on a separate piece of paper in capital letters was a clue and we had to RUNNING to find the next one when we worked out to clue to find the next riddle which was the next clue IT’S SOMEWHERE AROUND THE GRAIN SILO! running a race as fast as we can NO that is the SHEARING SHED YOU IDIOT don’t call me i already told you that OW! IT WAS trying to preempt the direction that we would have to run next to find the next clue but you have to try and trick them to make them run the other way to get a head-start FAST BREAK but what about the bobcat POPPA WOULDN’T PUT IT THERE it’s a wild cat you idiot DERR under the shearing shed below the slaughter hook or the sheep-yards where we sometimes worked all day so Mum would bring us sandwiches even though we were covered in mud when it was tailing season or shearing or drenching and Poppa gave us bits of hollow black pipe GYEEUUUTUP! trying to pretend to get the fly-blown sheep laughing but POPPA IS TRYING TO KEEP COUNT don’t forgot I told you you idiot or sometimes right up near the edge of the bus but those clues were really hard to find but it didn’t really matter because the last clue was always GO AND FIND POPPA and Poppa always gave us equal treasure even when he had been to see the magic-man at maradup which was when Poppa gave me a miniature Charlie Chaplin in a charlie chaplin matchbox box which slid open just like a matchbox and I thought it was so precious that I buried it in a special tin with a lid but then when I went to find it I couldn’t and I cried because it was very precious to me and by the time I had finished crying I had decided not to tell mum because she would ask why I buried it honey and that would make me cry because Poppa bought it especially for me but then other times in summer when we must have been quite young still too young to be at the beach at that hour which we would have been otherwise we would jump into the pool and play bombing BREE YOU ALWAYS OPEN YOUR EYES UNDERWATER YOU ARE SUCH A CHEATER stupid idiot did not marco-polo and then we all quickly grabbed our towels from the pool fence as we ran past and around the side of the house to the front where we quickly laid our towels on the road and laughing lay face-down because we had a new road then and it was really good for skateboarding and basketball because it was really very smooth tar and laughing because it was so warm from the sun that it felt like you had wet your pants I DON’T EVEN HAVE PANTS ON SO HOW COULD I HAVE they are bathers did not anyway and then last person who was it in marco-polo gets to call game-on so we all have to quickly pick up our towels and runback around the side to jump in the pool because the last person in the water has no home-base and no fish out of water but then it was quite another time in a lecture theatre in ARTS building at university of western australia where we threw flour bombs at the young liberals the same year we started visiting Afghani refugees at the perth detention centre which is like a maximum security quarantine building or feels like that because it is at the airport to think of how many people drive past and never know but Gail Jones was lecturing and she started with an ee cummings poem and if you have ever heard Gail Jones speak punctuated by the cries of the peacock in the amphitheater because we were reading the god of small things by arundhati roy but of course she was our arundhati roy and walked past the most glorious epiphyte every time I went to that lecture theatre which was when I was living with paul who was an historian of medieval psychiatry and he and I would read poetry aloud to each other in the evenings laughing with red teeth because we were such quietly kind friends though he was heartbroken at the time we laughed and half-wrote play scripts and he wrote a journal article about the new Prince album musicology while I shouted laughing Godwin and Goldman over it but when he died in the house the first thing I thought as if in panic was about the sonnets he wrote in perfect iambic pentameter because Christie must know of the sonnet about her and there was a memorial service in the sunken gardens but I didn’t know anyone except paul and I recalled then that he had given me a book that I hadn’t read man-shy about a cow which i saw just the other day on my bookshelf

 

 

 

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Quotations of note: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

 

 

‘I, also, want order, as much as they who are continually upsetting it by their alleged government; but I want it as the result of my free choice, a condition for my labor, a law of my reason. I will not submit to it coming from the will of another, and imposing sacrifice and servitude upon me as preliminary conditions.’

 

~ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1851) General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century

 

 

 

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Poetry Turnstile: the esteemed Mrs Browning on a Friday afternoon

 

 

I thought, seeing as it is Friday afternoon and I am working to a deadline (I must send the final, polished version of Chapter 2 to my supervisors before day’s end) – that it is only right to steal a moment or two or three for poetry.

My eldest brother gave me this particular volume, The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, for Christmas one year. It is such a beautiful object (as above) – complete with note a penned by a long-ago previous owner in one of the first, blank pages. This poem, which I think is just so lovely is, My Doves. Thank you Mrs Browning and how lovely your birds.

 

My Doves

 

My little doves have left a nest
Upon an Indian tree,
Whose leaves fantastic take their rest
Or motion from the sea;
For, ever there, the sea-winds go
With sunlit paces to and fro.

 

The tropic flowers look’d up to it,
The tropic stars look’d down;
And there my little doves did sit,
With feathers softly brown,
And glittering eyes, that shew’d their right
To general nature’s deep delight.

 

And God them taught, at every close
Of water far, and wind,
And liften leaf, to interpose
Their chanting voices kin;
Interpreting that love must be
The meaning of the earth and sea.

 

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A Moving Image Clip: Why bin you steal unna bicycle?

 

Goodbye little bicycle. Footwalking home from the cafe after an evening of writing bili person or persons unknown cut my lock and stole the handsome little blue bicycle that my dear friend Joe built.

 

 

 

 

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A critical footnote on the use of term ‘riot’

The Sacheverell Riots

 

There have been a number of occasions that have given me cause to reflect on the use of the term ‘riot’. Two, thematically, I suppose.

I first began to pay attention to use of term after living and working  in remote Indigenous communities for a time. The situations or events that Police and media considered ‘riots’, I realised, were nothing of the kind on the ground. In fact, it became apparent over time that the situations and events most often considered and referred to as ‘riots’, were in actual fact local, culturally recognized forms and processes of conflict resolution. This may seem unlikely – that conflict resolution could be misrecognized as ‘a riot’ – but this kind of ‘moral misrecognition’ is a common occurrence in intercultural relations in remote Australia. Detailing the ‘how and why’ of such misrecognition is beyond the scope of dhuwala footnote though, this previous post may point in the same ‘how and why’ kind of direction.

There are strong parallels between the aforementioned mis-ascription of the term ‘riot’ and the way it is used in the context of (or commentary about) public demonstrations and protests and the like. The most obvious local example being the recent ‘Australia Day Riot’ of January 26. It was, of course, nothing of the kind – unless one is thinking of the media frenzy, or perhaps the overly zealous police response. This dynamic, however, is – I’m sure – familiar to anyone who has been involved in public demonstrations or protests – Police instigate violence and cause disorder at an otherwise peaceful assembly or protest – and then attribute responsibility for that violence or disorder – to those assembled, the demonstrators. The media then legitimise this claim by repeating it over and over again with selective footage as ‘evidence.’

It is worth noting that, on the part of Police, this dynamic is not dissimilar to the all too common Police strategy of preemptively ‘counter-charging’ individuals who they suspect will or may press charges against them (for mistreatment or misconduct etc). In these cases Police rely on the likelihood that the individual or individuals involved will not be in a financial position to match or challenge their own legal team –  that of the Police force itself. In most cases, unfortunately, their bets are well placed.

Anyhow, I was once again prompted to think over the use of the term ‘riot’ at last year’s Anarchist Bookfair in Melbourne. The bookfair took place just after the ‘London Riots’ so, as one might imagine, the discussion session on ‘Anarchism and Violence’ was rather well attended. In the course of said discussion, it became clear that it was not ‘violence’ that was the crucial point at issue at all – it was power. Yes, many involved in the London ‘riots’ were empirically observed to have behaved in a violent manner  –  but framing the discussion  in terms of ‘violence’ was divisive and thus, un-/counter- productive.

 

“I think it is completely wrong to buy into the ‘good anarchist, bad anarchist’ debate; we should all stand in unqualified solidarity with those involved.”

“So you’re saying that you condone the use of violence – violent tactics and actions!?”

 

And around and around it goes. Power relations and the way that power manifests (and must be sometimes be wrest back) is a lot more complex than ‘I condemn’ or ‘I condone’ the use of violence. Violence is but one way that power is enacted. Infinitesimal possibilities. Another way that power is enacted, which is relevant to the immediate discussion, is using one’s power to actively delegitimise the concerns and actions of some people in order to legitimise the use of force or violence against them.

This is where the term ‘riot’ seems rather useful.

If one listens to mainstream media, there are ‘riots’ in remote Indigenous Communities on an almost regular basis. Then there is the ol’ ‘peaceful demonstration turned violent’, which escalates into a ‘riot’. One hears of ‘riots’ inside Immigration Detention Centres and ‘riots’ in prisons. There are riots like the aforementioned ‘London Riots’ and, for example, the ongoing ‘riots’ in Greece. [1] What is it that makes or defines these situations, ‘a riot’? I’d speculatively throw up the fact that they are all organised groups of persons attempting to challenge or resist a perceived injustice perpetrated or enacted by an institutional authority of some kind (usually, of course, the State or an arm thereof). In almost every case the institutionalised authority involved is one that claims a monopoly of legitimate force or violence. When has the term ‘riot’ ever been used to refer to the actions, force or violence perpetrated by institutionalised authorities? ‘Riot police’ doesn’t count.

The term ‘riot’, while ostensibly an issue of social or civil order, has always been used as a mechanism or tool for political ends.

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And on the seventh day she said “let there be digits” and there were digits

I haven’t done any thesis writing today. This is a Cocorosie cover. The song is based on a children’s song that one of the two siblings that comprise the band recalled and altered thus so. Their Mother is an artist and singer of American Indian and Syrian ancestry, which I gather has something to do with the adjustments to the song.

 

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