Re: [-empyre-] being pakeha now?

Hola all,

I've recently landed back in Aotearoa and recognise Stella's sense of
"place" that is integral to being "home". It is an affective response, not a
critical one. How, then, could such feelings be brought forward into an
"international" discourse of "new media arts"? Well, for me that next step
is a cultural response, and requires some serious thought and consideration.
Because as Stella noted there are sometimes-complicit sometimes-competing
senses of the "local" that are in operation, and in settler culture the
process of making the European "become local" is intimately bound up with
the expropriation of indigenous resources. I think it's precisely that I
wasn't born in NZ that has helped grow that understanding, and I think it's
an unavoidable question if we really do want to understand our attachment to
the place we're in. I should point out that I don't think this burden only
falls to Pakeha, it's labour that Maori have for the most part *already
undertaken*, as they survived a century and a bit of radical policies of
assimilation and found out that the racial construction of captialism meant
that they could never really assimilate anyway, or that the costs were
extremely high for little benefit at the end of the day.

My interest is not really in trying to protect Maori from
mis-representation, they do that themselves or would here if the stakes in
this conversation were valuable to them. But what I do want to suggest is
that paying attention to this radical disjuncture (what Chakrabarty calls
the "historical wound") between indigenous and settler culture will get us
somewhere in thinking about what Aotearoa New Zealand is and what kind of
"placed" work we want to produce and disseminate, rather than just being the
inconvenient-to-get-to backwater of Euro-US circulation. The intellectual
politics as they've been put forward by e.g. Michael King and the forms of
"public culture" that structure our thinking (media, education) move all
this to a very abstract level, and produce discourse about it in places
where Maori are least likely to respond. I think at the end of the day such
discussions are counterproductive, as the affective sense of place/home I
feel in Aotearoa is not generated intellectually - and especially not
through the imagining of these islands as only recently inhabited! [the
classic settler response to indigenous issues is to use history to try and
think *before* the time of indigenous people, in order to destablilise this
threatening sense of proprietorship indigeneity symbolises, thus myths about
the Moriori being a "previous indigenous culture" colonised by Maori, so hey
we're just continuing the process, what's the problem here!]

My sense of home here recognisably comes from having chosen from time to
time to be in Maori situations, where the experiential dimensions of
everyday life are very different from Pakeha home/work/public spaces. This
requires shutting up and being prepared to listen (thanks Su), a very good
lesson for white culture where "participation" is often equated with
"talking loudly", and as I think Caro's post alluded to this accounts for
the various participatory gaps in list culture. An ethic of listening is
required to develop alternate ways of thinking/being, what Sandoval calls
"differential consciousness". Yes, it means sometimes being in situations
that are uncomfortable, such as Stella's gut response to Dean Hapeta. But
isn't this much more common the other way around? How many Pakeha-dominated
gatherings have I been to where people are sitting on food tables or
similarly challenging basic tikanga? I want to unravel this whole "double
bind" thing because I feel very strongly these false oppositions and
tensions are primarily a construction of European ideology rather than
requirements imposed by Maori (or other indigenous groups for that matter).
They spring from a fear of being changed and losing one's hard-fought-for
subjectivity in an unfamiliar environment. I'm not saying I don't also feel
such fear/challenges (especially being in some situations with tightly
defined gender roles after a steady diet of Western egalitarian feminism)
but relaxing a bit i) there are already people with deep accountabilities
within Maoridom working on these issues, ii) Maori are extremely diverse in
how these roles are articulated and iii) you can't change anything from
outside, unless you're prepared to be changed yourself.

If I maintain a level of amazement that we have succeeded in largely pissing
off one of the world's most welcoming and hospitable cultures, it's because
I see the value of the Maori ethic of manaakitanga (hospitality),
kaitiakitanga (guardianship), and whakawhanaungatanga ("making family") for
maintaining our environment and  fostering the kinds of international
networks/friends in new media arts that make my life life rewarding. Anyone
who has visited Sarai in Delhi or stayed on a marae in Aotearoa will
understand this. They're situations of affect that are not reducible to
discourse. However, I do think the kinds of dialogues we're having here are
important in opening up our being toward having those kinds of engagements,
and developing more open sensibilities. I also think that Aotearoa generally
throws up valuable paradigms for other locations! but the non-NZ residents
will probably have to come and visit to find out how. (small plug to pencil
in 2-4 december 05 for an Auckland visit where there'll be an international
symposium/conf on this issues with particular reference to new media arts
practice - info will follow)



#place: location, cultural politics, and social technologies:

[ Lilith] laughed bitterly. "I suppose I could think of this as fieldwork -
but how the hell do I get out of the field ?" (Octavia E. Butler, _Dawn_)

On 1/22/05 12:08 AM, "Stella Brennan" <> wrote:

> it sometimes seems a double bind - damned as a cultureless settler if
> you make reference to tangata whenua, hegemonic know-nothing if you
> don't.
> as has been pointed out, speaking position is never simple.  I remember
> at last year's cultural provocation conference listening to Dean Hapeta
> make some pretty violent and sexist comments, to which i would have
> liked to respond, but being struck dumb by the context (and probably
> also the fact that he's a great deal more verbally dextrous than me).
> and danny, pakeha from queensland (is that an ok description danny?),
> is the person on ada who is usually most articulate about
> appropriations and misrepresents of indigenous culture.
> as a way of trying to describe a pakeha identity  i wanted to talk
> about place.   aotearoa/new zealand was pretty much the last major
> landmass to be inhabited by humans, and as such, it is possible to
> reconstruct an image of a landscape before it was  framed by culture.
> of course, that notion in itself - a pre-lapsarian, moa and giant eagle
> strewn gondwanaland, is an interesting construction.  there's  a lot of
> nationalist baggage goes along with representation of our (one hundred
> per cent pure) natural environment, and with flora and fauna subject to
> treaty claims, and the foreshore and seabed issue, Maori and Pakeha
> uses and meanings for the land cut across each other.
> but,but,but,but...
> maybe it sounds cheezy and off-topic, but the thing that gets me going
> every time i step out of the terminal at auckland airport is the smell
> of moss in the air, and the things that i pine for when i'm away
> (articulating my position as a subject of global capital, or
> whatever...) is the crazy crinkly shores of Aucklands' harbours and the
> locating cone of Rangitoto in the background.   and the fact that this
> is my home, that i'm not really happy anywhere else, is one of the
> things that makes the net appealing - that possibility of staying where
> you are while being somewhere else.
> but what i was really wanting to talk about is the intersection of
> place and technology in the discourse of environmental restoration.
> hmm. maybe tomorrow....
> best
> stella
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.