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Conf 2009 presentation

Conf 2009 presentation

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  • 1. ‘We don’t leave our identities at the city limits’: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban localities Bronwyn Fredericks Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Conference September 2009
  • 2. We don’t leave our identities at a petrol station, bus stop, jetty or airport when we enter the city limits.
  • 3. Some of us even belong to the Country where a huge cityscape or town has been built.
  • 4. An Australian population that generally sees Indigenous people as ‘out there in communities’ or the ‘real Indigenous people live on communities’. This type of thinking makes those in urban locals like visiting ‘non-locals’ or ‘strangers’.
  • 5. Connections to Place •Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may still maintain a sense of feeling for the people and Country “back home”. •Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may have links to their traditional lands and links to other named areas/towns/regions that have been created since colonisation. •Some urban residents are Traditional Owners for that urban area just as there are Traditional Owners in other geographic areas. •There is the traditional, the colonial and the contemporary connections to place.
  • 6. Some Issues • Lack of positive identity affirmation within many environments and broader society. • Problematic portrayals of Indigenous people in the media. • Exotic parts of culture wanted – dancing, painting, singing, reading stories.
  • 7. Tourism - uses, misuses, and appropriates us and our cultures… Picture from a book titled Brisbane found in many hotel rooms in the inner city of Brisbane, logo of a shop in Brisbane Mall that sells giftware made in China with Aboriginal images, and leaflet from tourist Shop in Canberra, Australia’s capital (look at spelling)
  • 8. Stickers - picked up for $2.00 in a Discount Store… demonstrates the exotic and a past era.
  • 9. Colonial messages are re-enforced over and over again, sometimes covertly and sometimes overtly. If we are not included, then we are reflected in our absence. Places can enact feelings of welcome, belonging and inclusion or feelings of being unwelcome and excluded. Places and spaces are not neutral, non-racialised and depoliticised arenas in which people live, work and act.
  • 10. Simple everyday activities are part of the process of appropriation and territorialisation (de Gerteau, 1984). Based on the work of de Gerteau (1984), non- Indigenous people have developed an attachment and belonging to places based on dispossession of Aboriginal people and the everyday practices of the past two hundred years. Places have become sites of struggle, where there can exist complex political realities of Indigenous /non-Indigenous relationships.
  • 11. While the processes of colonisation have dispossessed Aboriginal peoples and may have altered Indigenous connection, access and control of place, it does not alter the reality of Indigenous place and Indigenous ownership of place. Pamela Croft. 1990. The Brisbane River.
  • 12. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have tried to make their mark and claim spaces and places in urban locations. In some areas it is more visible than in other areas. Urban content can be seen in a range of mediums. South Brisbane Pamela Croft (1990) Living in the City Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria
  • 13. Indigenous engagement with some sites is mediated and sometimes includes forms of surveillance and cultural guardianship by those who have assumed ownership. Most urban places are linked to white notions of Australian identity and citizenship which also includes control of who has citizenship and who doesn’t. Thus, this is in part how we are seen as ‘non-locals’ and ‘strangers’.
  • 14. Future • New ways of working with Indigenous peoples in different contexts and different environments. Need to working from the basis that places and environments are not innocent nor neutral, they can work to marginalise and oppress or to include and engage. • Need work done on issues - naming issues, the analytical and conceptual and not just the statistics of where we live. • Move away from “benevolence” and “goodwill” which masks the power differentials (Hage 1998) and denies the truth of Indigenous poverty and dispossession and non- Indigenous privilege. • More of the same?
  • 15. Thank you & Questions