29 May Public Seminar: ‘Desiring Belonging: white anxiety, anti-colonial spatiality and Margaret Somerville’s Body/Landscape Journals’
Public presentation by Dr Lisa Slater (University of Wollongong), with responses from Dr Emily Potter (Deakin) and Professor Lyn McCredden (Deakin)
When: Friday June 15, 3-4.30pm
Deakin Downtown, Level 12/727 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3008
‘Desiring Belonging: white anxiety, anti-colonial spatiality and Margaret Somerville’s Body/Landscape Journals’
In this paper, I return to Margaret Somerville’s Body/Landscape Journals (1999), which is an exploration and working through of her desire to write an embodied sense of belonging in Australia and practice anti-colonialism. During the process she becomes very sick. I want to wager that BLJ is Somerville’s response to a particular conflict in the progressive settler colonial imaginary, which compels and immobilizes ‘good white Australians’. Following John Law, I am arguing that Somerville’s sickness materialises ‘some very precise realities that are not enacted in other non-embodied ways’ (2004, 2). I am naming this ‘sickness’ of the body, anxiety. I want to trace what is being held in place – colonial order – but more importantly what new alliances, experiences and subjectivities are being created? My interest in BLJ is not that it is a successful example of the project of decolonization – a cure – but rather I want to stay with this disturbing text as a style of productive anxiety: the pain of self-creation – transformation through social encounter. She is also telling tales about the hold that colonial desire has on the progressive settler imaginary.
Lisa Slater is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She works in the disciplines of critical Indigenous, cultural and settler colonial studies. Her work is committed to challenging key concepts that inform policies and cultural politics. Her projects have a strong focus on remote and rural Australia. She has recently been published in Australia Feminist Studies, Settler Colonial Studies and The Pedagogies of Cultural Studies (Routledge). Lisa is completing a monograph entitled, Anxieties of Belonging in Settler Colonialism, forthcoming with Routledge.
Emily Potter is a Senior Lecturer in Literature and Writing, and Associate Head of School (Research) in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. Her forthcoming book (with Intellect) is titled Field Notes on Belonging: Writing Non-Indigenous Australian Belonging at the Millennium.
Lyn McCredden has a Personal Chair in Literature and Writing at Deakin University. Her most recent book is The Fiction of Tim Winton: Earthed and Sacred (Sydney University Press, 2017)