Am I Black Enough For You? By Anita Heiss [Milatovic Review]

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania on 2014-10-09 17:36Z by Steven

Am I Black Enough For You? By Anita Heiss [Milatovic Review]

Transnational Literature
Volume 6, Number 2, May 2014
3 pages

Maja Milatovic
University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Anita Heiss: Am I Black Enough for You? (Random House: Sydney, 2012)

Anita Heiss’ Am I Black Enough for You? is a compelling and deeply affective memoir on community, family, alliances and the complexities of identity. This work contributes to Heiss’s prolific oeuvre as a proud Wiradjuri woman, writer, educator, public speaker and literary critic. Heiss is the author of historical fiction, non-fiction, social commentary, poetry and travel pieces and the creator of an innovative genre of commercial women’s fiction named ‘Koori chick-lit’, or ‘choc-lit’, featuring urban Aboriginal women

The thought-provoking title of the memoir, Am I Black Enough for You?, reflects its preoccupation with identity. Posing the question, Heiss invites readers to reflect, consider and reconsider stereotypical and received notions about Aboriginal identity. The memoir begins with an act of self-defining, attesting to its importance and necessity, as Heiss embraces her diverse selves, firmly rooted in her identity as a Wiradjuri woman: ‘I am an urban, beachside Blackfella, a concrete Koori with Westfield Dreaming, and I apologise to no one’ (1). Throughout her introductory chapter, Heiss challenges stereotypical notions of Aboriginal identity, asserting her connection to her land and community. Analysing terms such as ‘Aborigines’, Heiss reveals the problematic constructedness of such terminology connected to the history of invasion and dispossession, emphasising once again the importance of self-expression and self-representation.

Following the introduction, Heiss references her much-publicised suit against conservative columnist Andrew Bolt and his article which targeted Heiss and several others, claiming they have chosen their ‘Aboriginal identity’ for personal and professional gain. Along with eight other plaintiffs, Heiss took Bolt to court for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act and won the case. She reflects on Bolt’s discriminatory and inaccurate assumptions and challenges prescriptive notions about Aboriginal identity emerging from colonialist imagination. Winning the case against Bolt, Heiss significantly contributes to countering problematic representations of Indigenous people in the media and encourages dialogue on equality and accountability…

Read the entire review here.

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Am I Black Enough For You?

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Oceania on 2014-10-06 19:10Z by Steven

Am I Black Enough For You?

Random House Books Australia (Available in the United States via University of Hawai‘i Press)
2012-04-02
352 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781742751924
eBook ISBN: 9781742751931

Anita Heiss

Winner of the Vic Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing.The story of an urban-based high achieving Aboriginal woman working to break down stereotypes and build bridges between black and white Australia.

I’m Aboriginal. I’m just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.

What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal – however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don’t ask her to camp in the desert.

After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too ‘fair-skinned’ to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita’s involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.

In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.

Read her story and ask: what does it take for someone to be black enough for you?

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Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Oceania on 2014-08-18 18:37Z by Steven

Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

University of Sydney
2014
243 pages

Lyn Sue Dickens

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

This thesis examines the extent to which three contemporary Australian novels can be regarded as interventions in “the modern racial imaginary” (Mignolo 2011a, p. 277). In order to analyse the novels as interventions, this thesis looks in particular at depictions and conceptualisations of mixed race subjectivity and experience in the texts. The novels, The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo (1994), Shanghai Dancing by Brian Castro (2003) and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser (2007) all explore mixed subjectivities and experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout this thesis I examine the complexity and disruptive potential of the concept of ‘mixed race’. I argue that through the depiction of people of mixed race and their traumatic experiences of racialisation, the novels critique, resist and disrupt concepts of race and colonial worldviews.

I further explore the ways in which the novels both promote and exemplify alternative ways of perceiving and interacting with other human beings that do not rely on racial categories or the humanitas/anthropos divide (Mignolo 2011b, p. 90). In order to do this I draw on Walter Mignolo’s concepts of border thinking/sensing and delinking, and Édouard Glissant’s work in The Poetics of Relation. I argue that critical examination of mixed race subjectivity and representation, in conjunction with transcultural concepts such as Relation and border thinking, provide a means of both challenging traditional concepts of race and essentialised cultures, and thinking beyond their boundaries. Furthermore, the novels themselves open up a transcultural space with transformative potential, which encourages the imagination of alternative, more equal worlds of Relation.

Read the entire thesis here.

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JS-44.12: A Global Look at Mixed Marriage

Posted in Africa, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Live Events, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science, South Africa on 2014-06-08 22:21Z by Steven

JS-44.12: A Global Look at Mixed Marriage

XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology: Facing an Unequal Word: Challenges for Global Sociology
International Sociological Association
Yokohama, Japan
2014-07-13 through 2014-07-19

Wednesday, 2014-07-16, 18:00 JST (Local Time)
Room: 315

Erica Chito Childs, Sociology
Hunter College, City University of New York

Mapping attitudes toward intermarriage—who is and who is not an acceptable mate—offers an incisive means through which imaginings of belonging—race, ethnicity, nationhood, citizenship and culture—can be critically evaluated.  In particular, social constructions of race and difference involve discussions of purity, race identity and taboos against interracial sex and marriage. Drawing from qualitative interviews and ethnographic research in six countries on attitudes toward intermarriage, this paper explores these issues of intermarriage in a global context.  Through a comparison of qualitative data I collected in Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Portugal, South Africa and the United States, I offer a theoretical framework and provide an empirical basis, to understand the concept of intermarriage and what it tells us about racial boundaries in a global context. For example, in the United States, the issue of intermarriage is discussed as interracial with less attention paid to inter-religious or inter-ethnic, to the point that those concepts are rarely used.  Similarly in South Africa, despite the end of apartheid decades ago, marriage across racial categories is still highly problematized and uncommon.  Yet globally there is less consensus of what constitutes intermarriage—sometimes intercultural, interethnic, or any number of words with localized meanings.  In South America and Australia, the debate seems to revolve more around indigenous status, citizenship and national identity such as who is Australian or who is Ecuadoran?  As indigenous populations rally for rights and representation how does this change the discourse on what intermarriage mean?  Looking globally, what differences matter? What boundaries are most salient in determining the attitudes of different groups toward intermarriage?  How are various communities responding to intermarriage, particularly if there are a growing number of “mixed” families? This research on attitudes toward intermarriage adds to our understanding of constructions of race, racism and racialized, gendered and sexualized beliefs and practices globally.

For more information, click here.

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Possessions of Whiteness: Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness in the Pacific

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2014-06-04 19:22Z by Steven

Possessions of Whiteness: Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness in the Pacific

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society
June 2014 (2014-06-02)

Maile Arvin, University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, Santa Cruz

I confess: I avoided watching the 2011 Oscar award-winning movie The Descendants (directed by the acclaimed Alexander Payne of Sideways and Nebraska, starring George Clooney) for a long time. I had read the book of the same name, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, on which the movie is based. I have complicated feelings about the book—a witty and often wrenching portrayal of a rich Native Hawaiian family that doesn’t seem to feel, look, or know much about being Native Hawaiian. Though I recognize such struggles, about feeling or being disconnected from your own culture and nation, as a very Native story (or perhaps, more precisely, as the story of settler colonialism), I don’t recognize the ending of Hemmings’ story. After much turmoil, the protagonist of her novel decides not to sell the land he has inherited from his family. It is hard to connect with the rich protagonists of Hemmings’ novel because I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who have land to be inherited. I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who frequent yacht clubs. And I don’t know any Native Hawaiians who seem so completely unaware of the truly amazing achievements of recent cultural revitalization efforts in the Native Hawaiian community—from language revitalization to traditional seafaring (our beloved Hōkūleʻa has set sail on a round-the-world voyage this past week). But, to each her own, I thought.

When I did finally watch the movie, despite the fact that I knew the story, despite the fact that I spend most of my time writing, researching and thinking about whiteness and settler colonialism in the Pacific, and despite the fact that I attended (for a time) the very same, very white-dominated private high school in Honolulu that Hemmings (and, incidentally, President Obama) attended, I was stunned. In the film, the residents of Hawaiʻi are shown to be, almost entirely, white people…

…Another way that settler colonialism and white supremacy buttress each other, but are not exactly the same, is that “racial mixture” is encouraged under settler colonialism, in order to make Indigenous peoples, and their particular claims to land, less distinct from settlers. Any kind of “mixture” allows Indigenous peoples to be seen as less “authentic,” as “dying out.” However, the goal of settler colonialism is to mix the population in such a way that it is closer in proximity to whiteness. These ideologies filter down into Indigenous communities in subtle and sometimes surprising ways. For example, many Native Hawaiians are multiracial, and are widely accepted within Native Hawaiian communities if their “racial mix” includes white or Asian. Being Native Hawaiian and black, however, is often less embraced, less recognizable, and less valorized…

Read the entire article here.

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Seminar on Mixed Race in Fiji: The Part Indian Fijians

Posted in Media Archive, Oceania, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, Videos on 2014-04-06 16:48Z by Steven

Seminar on Mixed Race in Fiji: The Part Indian Fijians

2014-04-05

Rolando Cocom
School of Social Science
The University of the South Pacific

This is a research design of an explorative study to be conducted in Fiji on ‘mixed race’ persons of iTaukei and Indo-Fijian parentage. The study seeks to render an interpretive understanding of ‘mixed race’ ethnic and national identification based on interviews with participants in Suva, Fiji. The research questions are (a) how do persons of mixed parentage (iTaukei and Indo-Fijian) identify themselves with an ethnic label or labels? (b) what are the perspectives on the institutionalization of the term “Fijian” as a national identity label? (c) what do such experiences tells us about the racialization and politicization of ethnicity? This study is interesting and significant in light of the increasing number of ‘multiracial’ movements in Anglo-America; the small number of inter-marriages between iTaukei and Indo-Fijian citizens; and the recent policy change to identify all Fijian citizens with the term Fijian. The presentation covers the central aspects of research designs: the literature review (on Anglo-America & Fiji), conceptual framework, methodology, and the modest implications of the study.

Read the presentation (in Microsoft Powerpoint) here.
Read the discussion paper (in PDF format) here.

NOTE: No part of this presentation is to be used, redistributed, or cited without the author’s consent. Contact: cocom_rolando@yahoo.com

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Bung Mokhtar: Mixed-race Malaysians will benefit from racial voting

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, New Media, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-04-01 21:59Z by Steven

Bung Mokhtar: Mixed-race Malaysians will benefit from racial voting

Malay Mail Online
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
2014-04-01

Zurairi AR

UALA LUMPUR, Apr 1 — Malaysians with mixed-race parentage will benefit the most from voting along racial lines as they will have more than one representative, Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said today.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) MP also claimed that the system suggested by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim yesterday will ensure justice for every ethnic group in Malaysia.

“For those who may have two or three ancestries, they can choose which one they prefer… They can be in both worlds,” Bung said in Parliament here.

“For me that is really good. At least, for me who has both Sungai and Malay ancestries, I can then get two or three representatives. Now, I can only get one.”

Sungai is the name of one of the many official tribes in Sabah.

Bung also refuted claims that Shahidan’s remarks is alike the now-abolished apartheid regime in South Africa, in which people voted for representatives from their own ethnic communities…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Stretching out the categories’: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness, belonging and home in Singapore

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2014-03-20 20:45Z by Steven

‘Stretching out the categories’: Chinese/European narratives of mixedness, belonging and home in Singapore

Ethnicities
Volume 14, Number 2 (April 2014)
pages 279-302
DOI: 10.1177/1468796813505554

Zarine L. Rocha, Research Scholar
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

Racial categorization is important in everyday interactions and state organization in Singapore. Increasingly, the idea of ‘mixed race’ and new conceptions of mixedness are challenging such classification along racial lines. Although contemporary Singapore is extremely diverse, the underlying ideology of multiracialism remains grounded in distinctly racialized groups, leaving little space for more complex individual identities. This paper explores the identifications of individuals of mixed Chinese and European descent in the Singaporean context, looking at how complexity is lived within firmly racialized structures. Drawing on a series of 20 narrative interviews, this research examines the relationship between categorization and identity, focusing on the identities of individuals with multiple national, cultural and ethnic ties. The practical impacts of racial categorization shape many aspects of life in Singapore, and individuals of mixed descent illustrated a constant tension between official categorization and personal mixedness, seen in the frustrations experienced and strategies developed by individuals around race and belonging. Individuals negotiated their connections around race and nationality both in practical terms around language, social policies and culture, and personally in terms of symbolic feelings of connection.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Being “Nesian”: Pacific Islander Identity in Australia

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Media Archive, Oceania on 2014-03-20 02:45Z by Steven

Being “Nesian”: Pacific Islander Identity in Australia

The Contemporary Pacific
Volume 26, Number 1, 2014
pages 126-154
DOI: 10.1353/cp.2014.0013

Kirsten McGavin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Anthropology
University of Queensland, Australia

Pacific Islanders in Australia use the terms “Islander” and “Pacific Islander” in many ways and in different circumstances to define themselves and others. Through invoking discourses including these terms, Pacific Islanders both consciously draw on “panethnicity” and subconsciously strengthen and support their localized identities. In this way, Pacific Islanders blur the ethno-cultural and sociopolitical boundaries that traditionally separate groups with connections across a diverse range of countries. Indeed, diasporic settings give rise to transnationalist sentiment and actions and serve to strengthen panethnic identity. Using insider and auto-anthropology and ethnographic research techniques, I draw on my experiences as an Australian of Pacific Islander descent and use examples drawn from my involvement in formalized community groups, cultural events, and social functions. In doing so, I argue that the expression of Islander and Pacific Islander identity is entwined with ideas about “race,” place, stereotypes, and behavior that highlight the dynamic ethnogenesis of this group.

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Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2014-03-08 06:13Z by Steven

Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

National University of Singapore
2013
345 pages

Zarine Lia Rocha

A THESIS SUBMITTED FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY

“Mixed race” identities are increasingly important for academics and policy makers around the world. In many multicultural societies, individuals of mixed ancestry are identifying outside of traditional racial categories, posing a challenge to systems of racial classification, and to sociological understandings of race. Singapore and New Zealand illustrate the complex relationship between state categorization and individual identities. Both countries are diverse, with high rates of intermarriage, and a legacy of colonial racial organization. However, New Zealand’s emphasis on voluntary, fluid ethnic identity and Singapore’s fixed four-race framework provide key points of contrast. Each represents the opposite end of the spectrum in addressing “mixed race”: multiple ethnic options have been recognized in New Zealand for several decades, while symbolic recognition is now being implemented in Singapore.

This research explores histories of racial formation in New Zealand and Singapore, focusing on narratives of racial formation. The project examines two simultaneous processes: how individuals of mixed heritage negotiate identities within a racially structured framework, and why—how racial classification has affected this over time. Using a narrative lens, state-level narratives of racial formation are juxtaposed with individual narratives of identity. “Mixedness” is then approached from a different angle, moving away from classifications of identity, towards a characterization of narratives of reinforcement, accommodation, transcendence and subversion.

Drawing on a series of 40 interviews, this research found similarities and differences across the two contexts. In Singapore, against a racialized framework with significant material consequences, top-down changes sought to symbolically acknowledge mixedness, without upsetting the multiracial balance. In New Zealand, state efforts to remove “race” from public discourse allow ethnicity to be understood more flexibly, yet this has not always translated easily to everyday life. For individuals in Singapore, narratives were shaped by a racialized background, as they located themselves within pervasive racial structures. In New Zealand, stories were positioned against a dual narrative of fluidity and racialization, reflected in narratives that embraced ambiguity while referring back to racialized categories.

The four narrative characterizations illustrated the diversity of stories within each context, yet highlighted certain patterns. Narratives of transcendence were present in both countries, illustrating how historical racialization can be rejected. Narratives of accommodation were more common in New Zealand, as the dissonance between public and private understandings of mixedness was less stark. Narratives of reinforcement were more frequently seen in Singapore, mirroring colonial/post-colonial projects of racial formation in which personal stories were located. Narratives of subversion were present in both countries, but were more common in New Zealand, where subversion required less conscious effort.

Overall, this research drew out how identity can diverge from official classification, as individuals worked to navigate difference at an everyday level. State acknowledgements of mixedness served to highlight the continued dissonance between fluid identities and fixed racial categories, as well as the unique balance of racialized choice and constraint in Singapore and in New Zealand. Personal narratives revealed the creative ways in which people crossed boundaries, and the everyday negotiations between classification, heritage, and experience in living mixed identities.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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