Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The "liberal" culture, Australia's Aborigines and the importance of personal experience

I did not expect to post today.

For reasons I won't bore you with at this point, I had to start work at 6.30am, dropping Clare off at school at 6.20am, a new early record for her. From 6.30 I moved wheelie bins, raked lawns, weeded, picked up papers, cleaned. Fortunately I finished what I had to do early, because I am incredibly stiff!

I see that Neil has invented a new word, hyperbolated. Neil, I love it. But you have to provide your readers with an OED style definition so that we can all use it in a common way!

In response to a comment from Neil on my post The Howard Government, Dissent and the Pattern of Change in Australia 2 - A personal explanation I made the following response:

My core plaint in all this is the way debate has become twisted.

Take the black armband thing. The focus on the negatives generated a response, so discussion gets squeezed into that frame. Other things get lost. I can't write more at the moment, but why is it that I can find lots on line about Aboriginal/European relations but very little about Aboriginal history post 1788 unless it's set in the relations frame? The most basic information appears to be lacking.

I now want to tease this comment out a little.


I had an entire post written, then decided to delete it. Instead, I have decided to do a stocktake post on my writings about Australia's Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. I thought that this might be of help to me while also showing how my views have been formed.

Just to explain.

The core of my complaint is that the dispute between the views of the "liberal" culture and the alternative "black armband" school has twisted the way we think about Aboriginal issues to the detriment of the Aborigines and the broader Australian community.

The post I had written focused on this complaint. However, the problem here is that I came to the view that in writing this way I was being trapped in the very trap I was talking about. That is, I was making the dispute between the two schools central to my writing when in fact my core objective is to set out a view independent of the two competing mind sets.

Now my evolving view may be wrong. Certainly parts of it are capable of being refuted by evidence. For example, my complaints about the writing of Aboriginal history may be wrong simply because I am not familiar enough with all the writings.

So if I set out what I have written, the often incomplete views that I have formed as a consequence, then people can address those views instead of focusing on the debate between the two schools. The fact that I think both schools are wrong and why then becomes a side issue, important but not central.


Lexcen said...

Let's identify the problem(s). Accusations of who is at fault, and who should feel guilty and who should apologize is pointless.
Once the problem(s) is identified, then a series of solutions can be considered, and a course of action put in place. Obviously ATSIC was a major disaster, let's pick up the pieces and try another way. No problem on it's own is insurmountable.

Jim Belshaw said...

I agree with your core point re the need to identify the problem(s). I also think that problems need to be chunked, broken up, so that they can be addressed.

As part of this we do need to properly understand and deal with past wrongs. But I believe our overall approach needs to be positive, focused on building on successes.

Anonymous said...

...we do need to properly understand and deal with past wrongs. But I believe our overall approach needs to be positive, focused on building on successes.

I agree entirely!

Jim Belshaw said...

I knew that you would, Neil.

Have a look at Lefty's comment on my post on Malcolm Calley on the New England blog - http://newenglandaustralia.blogspot.com/2007/01/malcolm-calley-anthropolgy-and.html

Armidale's traditional aboriginal families have a proud record. As an example, I am not a league follower, but I do follow Dean Widders.In Armidale we have a split between the traditional families and the new arrivals, Armidale's aborigianl population has more than doubled in recent years, and this is the type of problem that we have to deal with.

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