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From theft to apology

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From theft to apology

  1. 1. FROMTHEFT TOAPOLOGYDR SARAH CEFAIS.CEFAI@UWS.EDU.AU
  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTOF COUNTRY
  3. 3. LECTURE OUTLINEAIM: To analyse apologyMETHOD:1) The cultural and political conditions of ‘apology’ How did Rudd’s apology come about?2) The nation as a subject and object of feeling How can we understand the relationship between nations and feelings? How was the nation portrayed as the subjectof an apology?3) Apology as bearing witness What does apology allow us to witness? What is the significance of witnessing the harm caused to Aboriginal people?DISCUSSION: Question time
  4. 4. Similar lecture structure to…but with an emphasis on feeling and emotion
  5. 5. PART 1The cultural and political conditions of apology
  6. 6. The cultural and political conditions of apology1997 the National Enquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander Children from their Families FederalGovernment report titled Bringing Them Home.• policies involved and the philosophy of race and nation behind the policies• number of babies, children and young people forcibly removed• how, where and under what conditions children were removed• testimony• effects on those affected by child removal
  7. 7. WHY RUDD IN 2008?OTHER FACTORS INVOLVED IN CHANGING THE PUBLICDISCOURSE ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE• Land rights – Mabo & Wick. Northern Territory Land Rights Act (), Native Title land rights act• Transnational context of Civil Rights contributing to concepts of Indigenous rights and Indigenous sovereignty.• Tourism• 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and 1997 Bringing Them Home• UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007• 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response, ‗the intervention‘
  8. 8. PART 2The nation as a subject and object of feeling
  9. 9. OBJECTS & SUBJECTSOF EMOTIONAren‘t feelings just natural? Personal? What have feelings got todo with thoughts and ideas? What have feelings got to do with thepolitics of nations?Sara Ahmed (2004), ‘the cultural politics of emotion’ObjectsSubjects
  10. 10. Examples of feelingsthat have ‘others’Hate – others are the cause of injuryLoveShame
  11. 11. NATIONAL FEELINGS- Nations need national ‘others’ – race is a primary signifier of national difference as well as national inclusion or belonging.- There are national feelings, e.g. national pride, national sorrow. We can be nostalgic about the way things were. We can express anxiety about preserving what is important to us. How do these feelings work? These are collective feelings, which means they are ‘imaginary’ (Benedict Anderson, imagined communities)- Nations are the subjects of feeling. Nations have feelings. These feelings are bound up with identity. For instance, a nation can be strong and masculine, or weak and feminine (think of conversations about asylum seekers, examples where nation is being portrayed as strong or weak)- Nations are the objects of feeling. Nations are things about which we feel as subjects of the nation. E.g. pride. We can feel proud about being Australian (being subjects of Australia).
  12. 12. METHOD: FEELINGAUSTRALIAN /AUSTRALIAN FEELINGS1) Discourse analysis (analysing conversations)Look at representations in the media, politics, public debate.See how subjects and objects of emotion are constructed.Start by thinking about a) your feelings, b) what ideas andimages might have influenced these feelings, c) what largerideas these images and ideas are part of, d) whereabouts youmight see these larger images and ideas being represented2) Analyse historical events (analysing what happened)Look at events that are emotive.Start by thinking about a) your feelings in relation to the event,b) how you are implicated by the event, c) possible responses tothe event (what kind of new social relations might form?)
  13. 13. WHAT DO WE FEEL?Pain Confused HopelessRegret Worried ResponsibleAnger AnxiousSorrow AfraidSadness AshamedLoss GuiltyDevastated RemorseDepressed DistressedUnhappy UncomfortableOverwhelmed Uncertain
  14. 14. SHAME VS GUILTemotional landscapes of apology.
  15. 15. PART 3Apology as bearing witnessHow do you witness to lives that are impossible to imagine?To bear witness is to make lives imaginable, to bring that which iscurrently hidden into the public domain.To bear witness would mean to imagine a different kind ofAustralia.
  16. 16. RABBIT-PROOF FENCE8:20 - 12:26
  17. 17. THE LIMITS OF APOLOGYSara Ahmed (2004)When apology covers over shame in order to reach pride, shame caneclipse the very histories whose recognition might transform thesocial fabric of shame in Australian society.Tony Barta (2008)‗The apology was framed within what has come to be called―reconcilliation‖. Established during the years following the twoinquiries into Aboriginal trauma in recent times—deaths in custodyand then the stolen children—it has become the official ideologywithin which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can now―move on.‖‘ (210)‗There is a deeply seated impulse in Australian society to separateproblems of Aboriginal life and death in the present from theEuropean attitudes to Aboriginal life and death in the past.‘ (209)
  18. 18. Bringing them homeIt should, I think, be apparent to all well-meaning people that truereconciliation between the Australian nation and its indigenouspeoples is not achievable in the absence of acknowledgment bythe nation of the wrongfulness of the past dispossession,oppression and degradation of the Aboriginal peoples. That is notto say that individual Australians who had no part in what wasdone in the past should feel or acknowledge personal guilt. It issimply to assert our identity as a nation and the basic fact thatnational shame, as well as national pride, can and should exist inrelation to past acts and omissions, at least when done or made inthe name of the community or with the authority of government.Sir William Deane, Governor-General 1996, cited in BringingThem Home (1997)
  19. 19. 3 Apologies1. Rudd2. Keating3. JindabyneThese apologies can be analysed as events: What happened?Who was involved? How did the event change a context? Whatwas unanticipated about the changes that followed the event?These apologies can also be analysed as discourses: What wasthe conversation about? Who were the speakers? Who were theaudience? In which media and forums was the apologyrepresented? What are some of the ways in which theseapologies are spoken about today?
  20. 20. Kevin Ruddhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKWfiFp24rAPaul KeatingJindabyne
  21. 21. WHY SAY SORRY?ResponsibilityLived responsibility in the everyday…Guilt as a block – source of anger and ignorance.Change relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.To bear witness to the structural inequalities- Differences in life expectancy, education, employment, wealth- Differences in representation by the government and by society
  22. 22. Constructing Emotions KEATING Outpouring of griefRedfern park Aboriginal audienceLocal event Past separated from presentTelevised by ABC Australian governments are sorryAnger, lack of belief, turning away (subject of the apology are people implicated by governments)Aboriginal audiencePast ongoing in presentAll Australian identities not separate Bringing them Home reportfrom ATSI identities (subject of theapology should be all who are non- Ideology of equity of opportunityAboriginal and who live onAustralian [Aboriginal] land)1991 Royal Commission Inquiry intoAboriginal deaths in custodyIdeology of social democracy RUDDOpening of parliament
  23. 23. ABORIGINALPERSPECTIVESThe sorry day campaignThe tent assemblyStolen generations testimoniesJudy Atkinson Trauma Trails: Recreating Song LinesScholarshipNot talk about Aboriginal people as objects of knowledgeNot express pity for Aboriginal people (also objectifying)Challenge ways in which Aboriginal people are representedas a social problem (challenge assimilationist perspectives)
  24. 24. BEARING WITNESSWe are all implicated in this history. We all partake indiscourses that position Aboriginal people as a source ofnational pain and shame, even if we ourselves are Aboriginalpeople.Responsibility in the everyday – if we keep looking togovernments to come up with the answers it won’t work.Learn about Aboriginal rights, social justice for Aboriginalpeople, have to undo narratives of whiteness and startspeaking about and representing histories that continue tobe repressed.My view is that we all partake in the pain of dispossession,even in denial, in anger towards minoritised groups (non-white Australians or asylum seekers)

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