Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 10:44:13 +1000
Sender: "NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information" <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Coexistent Sovereignty
Original Sender: email@example.com
Beyond imperial anthropology - partnership in action
by Bruce Rayburn
Can anthropology achieve an alliance with life in which the whole of experience (and not 'faulty mental acts of the Western tradition which have made it socially') becomes the master from which we fashion our representations?
Would this require anthropology to abandon its alliance with those modern day monasteries of sterile 'science' - unable to admit that science is incapable to making sense out of life - the universities? Yes!!
A new alliance is required which acknowledges the masters of experience, and drops the pretence which props up Western notions of superiority.
Anthropology in universities plays an active part in supporting the grand edifice of pretence - a cult called science - necessary for imposing Western life ways on the whole of life.
Australia is a most interesting example.
The Western intellectual tradition, fashioned by aspiring members of an elite (but themselves landless and without the resources to allow them to escape from wage-slavery), insists that the lives of Australia's First Peoples can be separated in thought from the context of their living countries.
This act of violence paves the way for the operation of more practical forces, which expropriate the resources of those living countries as sacrificial fuel for the Western false image of life.
First Peoples and their living countries form an inseparable unity - and this requires a complete rethink of the Western position. And a renewal of the reform of western life which was postponed by the European grab of Australian resources.
Europe could never afford Australia.
But in place of the complete rethink, we get a holding action.
In place of Australian academic anthropologists insisting the institutions they work for formally acknowledge that they are founded on and fuelled by the expropriated resources of Australia's First Peoples, we get more empty rhetoric about how vital land is for Aborigines.
But what is the message conveyed to their students by their failure to commit the whole of their Being to communicating that information - by insisting that either their institutions acknowledge this truth or they withdraw their support for the institution. The pretence is continued that all is in order.
The message is that it is OK to follow the type of life practices as laid down in distant British or American universities.
Best practice academic standards? What about the standards which originate from life and which insist that we do not support ongoing genocidal regimes ?
Australia's academic anthropologists, by failing to insist that their teaching is properly grounded, continue to provide a very valuable service to the Anglo-Australian State.
We hear Anglo-Australian managers talk of 'Australia's vast natural resources' - a new manchuria for Japan (with its own version of worship for life's false image).
The Western category of 'nature' is itself highly political. Senior lawmen of First Peoples insist that (irrespective of Western notions of ownership) peoples lives are generated from their birthright countries.
It would not do for the idea of the fundamental unity of First Peoples and their living countries to be communicated properly to the young minds seeking guidance from authorised experts.
Australia's First Peoples continue to be actively engaged in a struggle for the recognition of their place in the management of life - and this struggle extends well beyond what is 'permitted' by the Anglo-Australia managers.
Finding an echo in current Aotearoa/New Zealand events the issue of co-existent sovereignty is on the agenda. Such a notion is 'impossible' according to the 'either-or' logic by which Western elites manipulate life.
The stock phrase "Impossible" is trotted out by the corporate state managers and that is supposed to be the end of the matter. The western tradition is frozen in a historically peculiar position by decree!
What is the position of western intellectual craftspeoples?
Has anthropology learnt enough from life's masters - the wisdom inscribed in the lived practices on non-western peoples - to be able to incorporate the healing sense of 'both-and' logic into the core of its practices, and to commit its considerable resources to gaining acceptance of co-existent sovereignty in Australia and elsewhere?
For those who wish to focus their energies on this issue, the question of the co-existence of native title and pastoral leases in Australia requires urgent attention.
Want to find out more?
Contribute to a fighting fund? First fifty donations over $20 will receive signed copy of 3.5 inch disk ASCII files of my unpublished 'Riding the Songlines'. Bankcard, Mastercard, Visa and Amex facilities available.
Contact Bruce Reyburn at Songlines@peg.apc.org.