Owning identities
(P49)
Location H
Date and Time 9th December, 2008 at 08:30

Convenor

Maureen Molloy (University of Auckland) ma.molloy@auckland.ac.nz
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Short Abstract

This panel is concerned with issues of identity and ownership.

Long Abstract

This panel is concerned with issues of identity and ownership.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Appropriating the Self: The Experience of Self-Sovereignty

Author: Ghassan Hage (University of Melbourne) ghage@unimelb.edu.au

Short Abstract

This paper examines our sense of 'ownership of oneself' and how it varies accross cultural spaces. it also examines how this experience co-exists with rather than negates the contrary experience of being 'determined' by forces on which we have no control.

Abstract

To what extent do we 'own ourselves'? Such a question links up with both folk and academic debates on 'free will'. Rather than asking the eternal question 'do we or don't we have free will?', this paper begins with the experience of 'self-sovereignty': the experience that we are in some ways in control of ourselves, regardless of whether or not we are. However, it begins by examining the fact that this sense of 'ownership of oneself' varies accross cultural spaces. It also examines how this experience co-exists with rather than negates the contrary experience of being 'determined' by forces on which we have no control. Using ethnographic details of the way drivers in Beirut and Sydney relate to traffic laws that differ in their capacity to impose themselves as such, the paper examines how this dialectical experience of freedom and determination plays out differently within different cultural contexts. It concludes by examining the extent to which such an investigation helps us understand what is culturally specific and what is universal about a sense of control over the self.

Return of 'The Native': Imagining and Reimagining Identity as Iterative Appropriation of Culture and Space

Author: James Oliver (Monash University) jamesoliver11@gmail.com

Short Abstract

This paper situates identity as an iterative 'process'. I use concepts of the 'liminal' and 'communitas' to explore negotiations of cultural identity as appropriations of intellectual property, in terms of imaginings of space, including articulations of 'rights' and belonging/s. I also explore epistemological issues with regard to the researcher as 'native'.

Abstract

I intend to ponder on how the intangible may be imagined as a resource, and thus as a subject of ownership… part of what people have at their disposal in organising and thinking about their lives. (Strathearn, unpublished)

What processes rather than essences are involved in present experiences of cultural identity? (Clifford, 1988: 275)

This paper is cast from participant-observation exploring how people 'do' identity in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd. The Gàidhealtachd can be described as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland but it is more intangible and unbounded than that, it is also a cultural space or imagining. This is also an area of Scotland with a strong tradition of out-migration, and a more recent history of generational language-shift and in-migration, particularly from the rest of the UK, and more recently from continental Europe. In his book The Predicament of Culture James Clifford (1988) argues that culture (now in a globalised, 'post-modern' and technologically advancing context) is less about a site of origins and rooting than of translation and transplanting. We might add, for clarification, that tensions between these can still persist (i.e. between origins and translation). With this in mind, in this paper I situate identity as an iterative 'process'. I use concepts of the 'liminal' and 'communitas' to explore negotiations of cultural identity as appropriations of intellectual property, in terms of space, including articulations of 'rights' and belonging/s. I also explore epistemological issues with regard to the researcher as 'native'.

Is it appropriation or exploitation of sameness? Victimization among migrants and immigrants in Asia and the Pacific

Author: Katie Shaw (University of California, Los Angeles) xshawy@gmail.com

Short Abstract

Migrants and immigrants look for migrants and immigrants in their search for guidance,

support, opportunities, and new ways of life. This paper draws from extensive fieldwork

to examine victimization among migrants and immigrants in Asia and the Pacific. The

central question to be tackled is: is sameness in culture, race, and country of origin being

appropriated among migrants and immigrants for attaining/owning general

goals/identities or being exploited by one group of migrants and immigrants to take

advantage of or even victimize another?

Abstract

Co-author: Victor Shaw

As elsewhere, applicable to migrants and immigrants is a general law that the more people are similar to one another, the more they interact with each other; and the more they interact, the more they experience conflict, including exploitation and criminal victimization.

On transportation lines, migrants may feel close to each other by just learning that they are the same group of people: being on the move for jobs and having no roots in the local community. Out of a spontaneous trust developed in the natural attempt to identify with others, some migrants may leave their belongings in the care of their newly made acquaintances. However, by the time they return from the toilet or a ticket office, they may find everything gone, as if with the wind. There are, of course, more sophisticatedly orchestrated schemes.

In a locale where they stay, migrants naturally turn to those who come from the same place, speak the same language, or belong to the same ethnic or racial group for service or assistance. As for exploitation and victimization, first-come migrants tend to prey on their newly arrived counterparts knowing that newcomers are inexperienced and dependent upon external assistance. Most commonly, the former misinforms the latter, overcharges the latter on goods, rental properties, and services, keeps the latter on lowpaying jobs or even in servitude, and prevents the latter from assimilating into the larger society.

Mediation, peacebuilding and the intercultural: native title and Aboriginal Australia

Author: Toni Bauman (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) toni.bauman@aiatsis.gov.au

Short Abstract

Mediation and peace-building approaches often see ‘culture’ and cultural groups as bounded entities of absolute truth and stereotypical beliefs. Meaning, however, is produced inter-subjectively and negotiated out of the conditions in which it is embedded. This paper seeks praxis in which processes involving Aboriginal people area also seen as ‘intercultural’.

Abstract

Mediation and peace-building approaches often see 'culture' and cultural groups as bounded entities of absolute truth and stereotypical beliefs. Meaning, however, is produced inter-subjectively and negotiated out of the conditions in which it is embedded. This paper seeks conflict management praxis in which processes involving Aboriginal people area also seen as 'intercultural' and takes the relational idea of 'fields of inter-subjectivities' as an appropriate starting point for theorising and designing conflict management processes amongst Indigenous peoples. The paper questions conflict resolution practitioners who suggest that cultural generalisations can be useful starting points in analysing stereotypes in a 'politics of generalisation' which recognises contingency and suggests that a more useful approach is to think of culture's 'work of differentiation' (cf Weiner 2002) and to see culture as a process of meaning making. In this paradigm, meaning is available only through the space created by participating subjects, as opposed to a view of rights and interests in terms of a social ontology of groups and individuals in a liberal discourse where rights are seen to be absolute and groups as homogenous. The paper suggests that mediator capacity, including fetishized understandings of 'culture', is often the cause of failures in Indigenous mediation or peace-building processes rather than, as is commonly suggested, 'cultural difference'.

Pollution, politics, hpon & panty power in today’s Burma/ Myanmar

Author: Ma Khin Mar Mar Kyi (Australian National University) Mar.Khin@anu.edu.au

Short Abstract

Abstract

The Burmese modern nation state has created an ‘imagined community’ which systematically uses a combination of traditional gender power beliefs, in particular hpon and modern nation state hierarchical masculine power. Hpon is often assumed to be an essential and unchanging condition of ‘Burmese-ness’ and ‘maleness’ and is understood in all sectors of Burmese society. Hpon is a widely referenced concept in scholarship on Burma, seen as men’s birthright which all men are born with on their right shoulder, defined by a leading Burmese writer as the ‘glory, the holiness of a man’…(1962: 71).

Hpon is used in contrast to a colonial ideology of feminising women which created new ‘ideals’ of Burmese womanhood. Nationalists used a combination of ‘borrowed’ and ‘traditional’ ideas about women to meet political needs and the current regime has continued to strategically and systematically use these gender constructions for their own narrow political purposes, especially to attack Aung San Suu Kyi. By focusing on hpon I will discuss how traditional values have been used to empower men and legitimise male superiority in public and politics. However, the regime’s gender constructions have also been subverted, most recently in a ‘panty power’ campaign which seeks to ridicule the Burmese generals.