All posts by admin

Suwiki launched

‘I have a different idea of a universal. It is of a universal rich with all that is particular, rich with all the particulars there are, the deepening of each particular, the coexistence of them all.’  Aime Cesaire

A new platform has been developed as part of Southern Perspectives to connect writers interested in south-south dialogue.

Suwiki is a network for exploring issues and activities that might be shared in common among countries outside the transatlantic metropolitan centres. This includes shared practical challenges, such as journal costs and rankings, distance from international gatherings and local support for knowledge production. It also features theoretical issues across disciplines, such as the geopolitics of knowledge, epistemological ethics and indigenous studies. Suwiki is for individuals and organisations that explore a southern perspective on a broad range of disciplines, including creative arts, humanities, professions, social and physical sciences. It applies particular to those in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Oceania. Members can:

  • Register individual field of expertise and interest
  • Notify of upcoming events, calls for papers, conferences
  • Profile key southern thinkers, such as Paulin Hountondji, Rabindranath Tagore, Garbiela Mistral, Epeli Hau’ofa and Raewyn Connell
  • Promote common resources such as journals and websites
  • Discuss issues of common concern
    • relation between Indigenous and Western knowledge
    • aspirations to the north and rivalry with southern neighbours
    • drawing a line between localism and provincialism
    • collective forms of knowledge

To register, go to the home page and fill in your details on the top right of the screen. For more information, go here.

Future Challenges, Ancient Solutions: What we can learn from the past about managing the future in the Pacific

29th November – 3rd December 2010
University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands

Many challenges face the peoples of the Pacific Islands in the 21st century. Solutions are needed that are both effective and acknowledge the cultural context in which they will be applied. Many solutions that have been applied to the Pacific Islands have failed because they have been neither culturally sensitive nor environmentally appropriate. In this regard, it is possible that earlier generations of Pacific peoples came up with solutions to similar challenges that were successful because they were developed by key stakeholders who knew the context intimately.

This conference examines several areas in which there are challenges confronting Pacific Island peoples and looks to the past to see whether solutions were developed in response to comparable challenges. The aim of this conference is to identify those ancient solutions and evaluate their efficacy. The overarching goal is to inform solutions for contemporary challenges, particularly by enhancing their cultural and environmental sustainability to the Pacific Islands context.

See website.

International Competition to Launch University of the South Pacific Press

In May 2011, the University of the South Pacific will be launching its publishing arm that will be known as the USP Press. The goal of the Press is to publish high quality research and writing on issues related to the Pacific Islands, or the islands commonly known as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Toward this end, the University wishes to announce an international competition seeking manuscripts in the following categories:

USP Press Literature Prize ($3000) will be awarded to the overall winner from the following categories.

The winner in each category will receive $1,000.00

  • Fiction ($1,000)
  • Poetry ($1,000)
  • Drama or Screenplay ($1,000)

USP Press Non Fiction Prize ($3,000) will be awarded to the overall winner from the following categories. The winner in each category will receive $1,000.00.

  • History, Auto/Biography ($1,000)
  • Sciences ($1,000)
  • Social Sciences/Humanities ($1000)
  • Best Children’s Book ($2,000)

The competition is open to all nationalities and closes on 15 February, 2011.

The prize money will be in American dollars

Each submission must clearly indicate the category in which it is to be considered.

All submissions must be in hardcopy. Online submissions will not be accepted.

All submissions should be addressed to:

The Chair, Board of the USP Press,
Professor Vilsoni Hereniko,
Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies,
The University of the South Pacific
Private Mail Bag,
Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji.

For enquiries, write to

Lorenzo Veracini on settler colonialism

‘Here from Elsewhere: Settlerism as a Platform for South-South Dialogue’
Discussion Roundtable, Institute for Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne, 21/10/10
Participants: James Belich, Lorenzo Veracini, Kate Darian Smith

Lorenzo Veracini

1) Settler colonialism as a compound category is an antipodean-developed paradigm. This origin makes it an important platform for South-South dialogue.

Actually placing “settlers” and “colonialism” in the same analytical field required overcoming a number of conceptual blockages. It took decades. The nineteenth century – the century of the “settler revolution” (see Belich 2009) – did not think that they could be compounded. Indeed the settler revolution had cleaved the two apart: Marx, who engaged extensively with Wakefield (see Pappe 1951), thought that the settler colonies were the only “colonies proper”; Mill, who wrote extensively on colonisation and colonialism kept them rigorously separate (see Bell 2010). Archibald Grenfell Price was probably the first, in 1929, to theorise a particular form of colonial activity distinct from other colonial endeavours. Settler-driven colonialism – “independent” settlers – had been more effective colonisers than other metropole-directed groups (Price 1929). He was explaining South Australian specificities in the context of Australian diversity; and yet, he did not propose an exceptionalist account. On the contrary, his outlook was systematically comparative, proof that paradigmatic shifts are often grounded in parochial concerns.

I have elsewhere followed the development of “settler colonialism” as a concept since the 1930s (Veracini forthcoming). In the context of this trajectory, the notion that settler colonial settings were fundamentally different from both metropolitan and colonial contexts was recurrently proposed from the “South”. The settler themselves said so (the Algerian, Rhodesian, and south African settlers, for example, all at one point or another claimed a local version of southern exceptionalism), and the scholars, even if their agenda differed dramatically from the settlers’, confirmed it (i.e., Donald Denoon’s outline of settler capitalism in the southern hemisphere [1983], the “staple theory” of economic development that turns into a staple “trap” at the antipodes [see Schedvin 1990], Patrick Wolfe’s emphasis on the fundamental inapplicability in the specific conditions of settler colonialism of the master slave dyad typical of colonial studies [Wolfe 1999], and James Belich’s discovery, even if he does not use these terms, that settler colonialism is primarily about reproduction, not production, and that settler colonialism is immediately autonomous from the colonising metropole [2009]). Whether at the level of practice or theory, the notion that settler colonialism should be seen as a distinct formation came from the South.

That this was an original development and that only recently this notion has become better received in the northern hemisphere should be emphasised. On the contrary, scholarly traditions have consistently understood settler colonial phenomena either as colonial or metropolitan ones, not as an autonomous formation (alternatively, parochialising exceptionalist paradigms have been put forward). Marx and Engels, as mentioned, thought that settlers and metropole were part of the same analytical field. Lenin, and twentieth century Marxisms, on the contrary, conflated colonial and settler colonial forms and considered all colonialisms part of the general process of imperialist appropriation. Imperialism, it was argued, reorganised precapitalist economies anywhere, and integrated all peripheries into the world capitalist economy – the settler was, in Ronald Robinson’s words, the “ideal prefabricated collaborator” of imperialist endeavours (Robinson 1972). Likewise, anticolonial “Third Worldism” routinely collapsed the settler locales and the colonising metrople within the “global North” category, while only some within postcolonial studies preferred to include the settler colonies within the bounds of the “postcolonial” experience (even though this remained contentious and it was acknowledged that settler postcolonialities should be considered a specific subfield [see Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin 1989]).

2) Even if it remains an antipodean-developed paradigm, the applicability of settler colonialism has recently been expanded. Indeed, the indigenous/settler divide is now seen informing locales and experiences way beyond the settler Angloworld (see Belich 2009). This flexibility makes it a privileged platform for South-South dialogue.

Influential historians of Africa and Latin America Mahmood Mamdani and Richard Gott, for example, have convincingly deployed a settler colonial paradigm (Mamdani 1996, Mamdani 2001, Gott 2007; for a call to look for settler colonial phenomena beyond the “colonies of settlement”, see Edwards 2003). Both macroregions are generally considered as typically non-settler colonial. Africa and Latin America did not have the sustained economic development and political stability that settler colonialism, in marked contrast against colonial underdevelopment, would produce. Moreover, Africa did not have locales where white settlers constituted the majority of the population, and Latin America was inherently “hybrid”, it did not have the ethnic and racial homogeneity that typically characterises settler colonial formations.

Nonetheless, Mamdani extensively demonstrated how the postcolonial condition reverses but does not supersede a colonially determined relationship between “native” and “settler” (he defines a “settler” anyone who doesn’t have an ancestral homeland or lives outside his ancestral homeland). He outlined how in many postcolonial contexts dominated by nationalist regimes an indigenous ascendancy is enforced to the detriment of variously defined exogenous alterities (and how many of the intractable conflicts of postcolonial Africa depend on the inability/unwillingness to move beyond this dichotomy [Mamdani 2002, Mamdani 2009]).

Similarly, Gott noted how genocidal attacks against indigenous people in Latin America actually followed independence, not Spanish colonisation, and how recent political developments in the region can be interpreted as an indigenous renaissance in opposition to established settler colonial political orders. He thus proposed to fundamentally upturn received historical narratives of latin America: settler colonialism, not independence or neo- or informal colonialism followed the end of formal colonial subjection.

3) But there is another way in which reflection on settler colonialism as a distinct formation can facilitate an original approach to South-South dialogue. Even if they prefer to imagine themselves operating in an empty setting, settlers inevitably displace indigenous peoples. Relatedly, even if they would like to free themselves from settler imposition, indigenous peoples operate within settler colonial orders. Settlerism and indigeneity coconstitute each other.

Francesca Merlan (2009) has recently proposed in an essay published in Current Anthropology a history of the emergence, consolidation and eventual internationalization of a global category comprising all indigenous collectivities since the 1920s (see also Niezen 2003). “International indigeneity”, she noted, emerged in Scandinavia and in the Anglophone settler colonies and only eventually, indeed only very recently, became a truly global phenomenon. However, the “establishing” settler states did not support the ultimate institutionalization of indigeneity in international affairs, and voted as a bloc (CANZAUS) in 2007 against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see also Allen, Xanthaki 2010). This, Merlan argued, is a paradox that can be explained by reference to these countries’ liberal democratic political institutions. The “establishing” countries’ rejection of the Declaration “is consistent with the combination of enabling and constraining forces that liberal democratic political cultures offer” (303), she concluded. Liberal democratic political cultures allowed for the expression of indigenous political activism but eventually what could be construed as indigenous demands for special status clashed with a generalised reluctance to recognise the special claims of a particular constituency.

And yet, there is an alternative explanation beside Merlan’s sophisticated argument. If we define indigenous peoples as the “original inhabitants” of a particular locale, and considering that all polities are one result of one type or another of different processes of military and demographic expansion, the permanence of indigenous peoples is a possibility that equally characterises metropolitan, colonial and settler colonial contexts. However, only if we realise that “indigeneity” has its roots in settler colonialism, that “indigeneity” is a relational category that acquires its full meaning when it is paralleled by its dialectical counterpart – the non indigenous settler (Fanon famously noted that “it is the settler who has brought the native into existence and who perpetuates his existence” [1967: 36]) – we can better understand why it was the settler polities that voted against the Declaration. Only in the context of what I have elsewhere defined as the settler colonial “situation” there is a permanent distinction between an indigenous and an indigenising exogenous collective (see Veracini 2010).

Metropolitan and postcolonial polities could more easily accommodate the Declaration’s terms than settler polities whose current sovereign dimension is fundamentally premised on the original dispossession of indigenous peoples. Crucially, if the colonial relation fundamentally defines both metropole and colony (and their postcolonial successors), it does so in terms of externality: colonialism is something done somewhere else (i.e., the colonies), or by someone else (i.e., exogenous colonizers). In the metropole and in the colony, it is this externality can ultimately sustain a claim to indigeneity (if colonialism is extraneous to the polity, and if colonialism can be defined as a form of intergroup domination characterised by an exogenous ascendancy [as Ronald Horvath had proposed in another Current Anthropology article in 1972], the polity is indigenous by definition). However, this claim is impossible in the case of the settler colonies/societies, where colonialism is performed on the spot and by the settler, and where in any case there is no specific moment inaugurating a post-settler colonial predicament. Thus, whereas the Declaration is a largely irrelevant text in metropolitan and postcolonial settings, these can comfortably claim to be indigenous polities, it constitutes a potential challenge to the sovereign order in settler colonial contexts. Despite its cautious formulation, as it protects indigenous peoples’ rights above settler prerogatives, the Declaration constitutes a powerful anti-settler manifesto. Contra Merlan, I would conclude by noting that it wasn’t a bland statement, but the unresolved settler colonial character of the settler polities, and that it isn’t only a matter of liberal democratic political cultures and their constraints. It is settler colonialism (indeed, focusing attention on liberal democratic institutions may imply a neglect of the unresolved dynamics of settler colonialism).

Thus, reflection on the dynamics of settler colonialism can help understanding a multiplicity of situations: what in one of the founding texts of what should consolidate into “settler colonial studies” Alan Lawson defined the (settler) “Second” world (Lawson 1995), as well as what are generally referred to as “Third” and (indigenous) “Fourth” worlds. Settler colonialism ultimately contributes to South-South dialogue by proposing that settler and indigenous experiences should integrate traditional understandings of the binary relationship between North and South. I propose these three insights, and the suggestion that the distinction between colonialism and settler colonialism should be regarded analytically and not geographically (that is, that it is a distinction between separate forms and not between “colonies of exploitation” and “colonies of settlement”), as a preliminary framework for developing “settler colonial studies” as a genuinely global and transnational paradigm.


Stephen Allen, Alexandra Xanthaki (eds), Reflections on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2010.

Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in post-Colonial Literatures, London, Routledge, 1989.

James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Duncan Bell, “John Stuart Mill on Colonies”, Political Theory, 38, 1, 2010, pp. 34-64.

Donald Denoon, Settler Capitalism: The Dynamics of Dependent Development in the Southern Hemisphere, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1983.

Penny Edwards, “On Home Ground: Settling Land and Domesticating Difference in the ‘Non-Settler’ Colonies of Burma and Cambodia”, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 4, 3, 2003.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1967.

Richard Gott, “Latin America as a White Settler Society”, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 26, 2, 2007, pp. 269-289.

Ronald J. Horvath, “A Definition of Colonialism”, Current Anthropology, 13, 1, 1972, pp. 45–57.

Alan Lawson, “Postcolonial theory and the ‘settler’ subject”, Essays on Canadian Writing, 56, 1995, pp. 20-36.

Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Oxford, James Currey, 1996.

Mahmood Mamdani, “Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonislism”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43, 4, 2001, pp. 651-664.

Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2002.

Mahmood Mamdani, Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, London, Verso, 2009.

Francesca Merlan, “Indigeneity: Global and Local”, Current Anthropology, 50, 3, 2009, pp. 303-333.

Ronald Niezen, The Origins of Indigenism, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 2003.

H. O. Pappe, “Wakefield and Marx”, The Economic History Review, 4, 1, 1951, pp. 88-97.

A. G. Price, “Experiments in Colonization”, in J. Holland Rose, A. P. Newton, E. A. Benians (eds), Cambridge History of the British Empire, 7, 1, London, Cambridge University Press, 1929, pp. 207-242.

Ronald Robinson, “Non-European Foundations of European Imperialism: Sketch for a Theory of Collaboration”, in R. Owen, B. Sutcliffe (eds), Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, London, Longmans, 1972, pp. 117-140.

C. B. Schedvin, “Staples and Regions of Pax Britannica”, Economic History Review, XLIII, 4, 1990, pp. 533-559.

Lorenzo Veracini, Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Houndmills, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Lorenzo Veracini, “Constructing ‘Settler Colonialism’: Career of a Concept”, Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, forthcoming.

Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, London, Cassell, 1999.

‘Here from Elsewhere’–settler-colonialism with a southern horizon

James Belich, Lorenzo Veracini, Kate Darian-Smith

James Belich, Lorenzo Veracini, Kate Darian-Smith

Here from Elsewhere was the final in this year’s Southern Perspectives series at the IPCS. The series began with Raewyn Connell’s outline of ‘southern theory’ as a counter-hegemonic argument against the concentration of knowledge in the metropolitan centres. It set the scene for speculative propositions about forms of knowledge particular to the periphery, which included developments in indigenous theory, tidalectics and humid thinking.

One of the obvious points of connection between countries of the south lies in the settler-colonial experience. But recent developments in settler-colonial studies disturb the comfortable opposition between centre and periphery, north and south. The Imperial/Settler binary is counterbalanced by the Settler/Indigenous divide. While it might seem possible for those who cast themselves as ‘southern’ to join in solidarity against the metropolitan centres, there remains the historical conditions that continue to split these nations along colonial lines.

New Zealand historian James Belich (Victoria University, Wellington) began by outlining the argument in his recent book Replenishing the Earth. He articulated the three phrases of Anglo settlerism: incremental, explosive and re-colonisation. In the discussion that followed, Belich’s concept of the ‘re-colonisation’ was seen as implying that the flow of influence from Britain had ebbed before it was re-kindled.

Specialist in settler colonialism Lorenzo Veracini (Swinburne University, Melbourne) provided an analytic account of the distinction between colonialism and settlerism. He argued that settlerism was a distinctly southern phenomenon, emerging from the periphery. The discussion questioned the qualitative difference in relations with indigenous between colonial and setter. Veracini gestured the difference as one between the colonist addressing the indigenous with ‘You, work for me!’ (colonial), or ‘You, go away!’ (settler).

Historian Kate Darian-Smith (University of Melbourne) reflected on her own research, particularly in the circulation of objects related to reconciliation around the Pacific rim. In discussing the significance of objects such as the brass gorgets, Darian-Smith pointed to the active ways in which settlers proceeded to make their claims on the new land. She also implied a gender dimension in analysis of settlerism.

The following discussion continued the spirited contestation and defence of the settler-colonial paradigms that were presented. In terms of ‘southern perspectives’, it raised some important questions:

  • What is the substantial difference between the settler-colonialism experienced in Australasia and that of the United States?
  • What is the prognosis for the condition of settler-colonialism? Is it an original sin beyond redemption?

Clearly, the notion of a southern perspective must critique the manufactured forms of solidarity that elide the violence of colonisation. Settler colonial studies provides a powerful argument to expose facile alliances.

But settler-colonial studies also provides a powerful enabler of south-south dialogue by exposing exceptionalism as a common condition. In the case of Australia, the concept of the ‘great southern land’ encourages the narrative of a lucky country with singular promise. Through the settler lens, we see the way other countries create parallel forms of exceptionalism, particularly from the booster narratives of explosive colonisation. This applies not just to Anglo cousins, but across the latitude to Latin America and southern Africa.

So the challenge now awaits to use this platform as a way of journeying out beyond the familiar forums into south-south conversations. This notion of south is not the ground we stand on, but the horizon towards which we can gaze.

On the Circulation of Knowledge between Europe and the Global South

Wiebke Keim, from Institut für Soziologie (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg) announces a  new research project around Europe’s relation to the Global South:

We are happy to announce the launch of our international project  ‘Universality and the Acceptance Potential of Social Science Knowledge: On the Circulation of Knowledge between Europe and the Global South’. Four interconnected research projects are going to be carried out in the next four years and at same time we will be supporting and  complementing one another.

Our studies focus on the following ambivalent phenomenon: on the one hand, the European research area and its achievements still enjoy a high standing outside of Europe. On the other hand, the worldwide influence of the European theoretical tradition is increasingly being perceived as dominant, and European social science’s claim to universality is, as a result, seen as overbearing and presumptuous. By investigating this field of tension, we aim to obtain innovative ideas for the future positioning of the European scholarly community and its successful activity within the internationalized field of social sciences.

This endeavour has been made possible above all through the funding of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research  (German:  BMBF) within the ‘Free Space for the Humanities’ funding initiative on the subject of  ‘Europe Viewed from the Outside’. The  Institute of Sociology at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg has agreed to act as a home for our project. Our international advisory board will support us scientifically: Prof.  Hermann Schwengel and Prof. Sabine Dabringhaus from the University of Freiburg, Prof. Jìmí O. Adésínà of Rhodes University as well as Prof. Ari Sitas from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Assoc. Prof. Syed Farid Alatas from the National University of Singapore, Prof. Monica Budowski from the University of Fribourg  in Switzerland, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ecevit from the  Middle East Technical University  in Turkey, Dr. Terry Shinn from the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne/CNRS  and Dr. Roland Waast from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)  -  Ex  ORSTOM  in France. In addition, at present four  researchers are associated to the project: Dr. Miriam Nandi (English studies), Dr. Paruedee Nguitragool (Political Science) und Barbara Riedel (M.A., Social Anthropology) from the  University of Freiburg, as well as Dr. Sabine Ammon (Philosophy and Architecture) from the Technical University Berlin. Twelve Fellows from around the world are also going to work with us here in Freiburg, each for several months, in order to promote the international and interdisciplinary scholarly exchange of our project. We will be welcoming our fellows to Freiburg beginning in April 2011.

Developing Pacific Scholarship

ANU Campus 31 January-11 February 2011

Call for applications from Pacific Islander scholars

The State Society and Governance in Melanesia Program (SSGM), situated in ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, is offering a Pacific Scholarship Award for eight places to graduate students and scholars from universities, research institutions and professional bodies in the Pacific Islands to attend its Developing Pacific Scholarship Program for two weeks from 31 January to 11 February 2011. Full travel costs to and from Canberra, plus accommodation, will be paid to successful Pacific Islander applicants.

This Program is envisaged as a training opportunity for younger Pacific Islands researchers. During the first week of the Program, a selection of ANU Pacific Studies staff will offer brief summaries of their current research, there will be opportunities for comments and feedback on the visiting participant’s writing and research, and guided introductions to research resources. The second week will feature 15-20 minute presentations from each of the visitors on any aspect of their research. Trips around Canberra and social events will also be offered. For further information please see the SSGM website:

How to Apply

Send an abstract (less than 250 words) drawing on research you are currently or have recently undertaken and how you wish to develop this during your visit to ANU, as well as the topic of your proposed short presentation during the second week at the Pacific Research Colloquium. Please include a brief biographical description explaining who you are and which institution or organisation you are affiliated with. Send to: [email protected] Deadline for abstract: 27 October 2010

Successful applicants will be notified by 2 November 2010 and will be required to submit a full draft paper by 26 November 2010. Award of the Scholarship will be dependent on receipt of the draft paper. Applications from Pacific Island women are strongly encouraged. This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

Here from elsewhere: Settlerism as a platform for south-south dialogue

Thursday 21 October 2010 7:30-9pm

Institute of Postcolonial Studies, North Melbourne

James Belich, Kate Darian-Smith, Lorenzo Veracini

The southern question is figured as a struggle by colonies to liberate themselves from metropolitan centres in order to realise their own destinies at the other end of the world. This includes taking up the challenge of co-existence with peoples originally displaced by the process of colonisation. But what remains of the relation between metropolitan centre and periphery? Is there evidence of exchange between oldland and newland that offers a more reciprocal arrangement? What does this mean for potential solidarity between countries of the periphery?

Professor James Belich is at the Stout Research Centre, University of Wellington. His two volumes on New Zealand history, Making Peoples and Paradise Reforged, are considered comprehensive and engaging. His recent publication Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1780-1930 is described in the TLS as ‘one of the most important works on the broad processes of modern world history to have appeared for years.’

Professor Kate Darian-Smith is Professor of Australian Studies and History at the University of Melbourne. Kate has written widely on Australian history and on the British world. Her works include, as co-editor of Britishness Abroad: Transnational Movements and Imperial Cultures, Melbourne University Press, 2007 and Text, Theory, Space: land, literature and history in South Africa and Australia, Routledge, 1996. She is currently working on an ARC-funded project (with Penny Edmonds and Julie Evans) on Conciliation Narratives in British Settler Societies in the Pacific Rim.

Dr Lorenzo Veracini is a Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne University and holds a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship. He joined the ISR in early 2009 and has studied history and historiography in Italy and the UK before moving to Australia in the late 1990s. He is the author of Israel and Settler Society (Pluto Press 2006) and What is Settler Colonialism? (forthcoming). He is currently writing a global history of settler colonialism and is on the editorial board of the new journal, Settler Colonial Studies.

Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne
Victoria 3051 Australia (map)
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members.

Fractals in Global Africa

Call For Papers: Critical Interventions Special Issue on Fractals in Global Africa – Spring 2012

Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art and History invites contributions for a special issue on Fractals in Global African Art to be published in Spring 2012.

As an arena for rethinking African arts and exploring the nature and value of African art/cultural knowledge, *Critical Interventions* is interested in how the recent work on fractal structures in African arts and culture can be extended, discussed, contested, and theorized in domains such as aesthetics, politics, philosophy and economics, as well as applied to practical matters such as education and design.

We are therefore interested in receiving proposals for substantial articles on all areas in which global African creativity–painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, film, and other cultural productions–intersects with fractals, networks, complexity, self-organization, and other nonlinear models. Locations could include any African-influenced culture around the globe as well as well as continental Africa.

Possible topics could include any of the following in relation to Africa or the African Diaspora:

  • Fractals in art
  • Fractals in design and education
  • Scaling and recursive patterns in the arts
  • Fractal routes/roots
  • Visual metaphors of branching (e.g. the Baobab, the arabesque)
  • Scaling or self-organization in traditional or contemporary architecture
  • Fractal social networks and the arts
  • Cycles within cycles in expressive media

We also welcome significant work by artists who work with fractals in classical formats or new media. We invite proposals to be submitted by February 28, 2011. The deadline for the final version of the paper is July 31, 2011. Articles should be based on original research, which has not been published before. Proposals should be no more than 500 words. Articles may be up to 7,500 words (not inclusive of the bibliography) and contain up to ten images. All rights for reproduction of images must be cleared in advance and submitted along with the article.

Proposals of no more than 500 words (or queries) should be sent to Audrey Bennett, Guest Co-Editor ([email protected]) Associate Professor of Graphics Department of Language, Literature, and Communication School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 110 8th Street Troy, NY 12180-3590

Critical Interventions, a peer-reviewed journal, provides a forum for advanced research and writing on African and African Diaspora identities and cultural practices in the age of globalization.

Our Williams–Ross Gibson and Tony Birch

Tony Birch and Ross Gibson

Tony Birch and Ross Gibson

The recent dialogue between Ross Gibson and Tony Birch demonstrated the kind of thinking that might be revealed through a southern perspective.

At the opening of the series, Raewyn Connell laid down the challenge to broaden our theoretical references beyond the metropolitan centres. In the discussion that followed, there was a sense of concern in abandoning the reassuring authorities, particularly European theoretical figures. Would this be to forgo critical thought – to drift away from the main action in transatlantic universities? Connell countered with a democratic image of a thousand boats that would criss-cross the south-south axis.

Gibson and Birch pointed in an alternative direction. They both looked back to iconic figures in the early history of European colonisation. Gibson considered the life of William Dawes, a scientist who explored different ways of engaging with Indigenous hosts in Port Jackson at the time of the First Fleet. And Birch looked from the Victorian end at the biography of William Barak, a Wurundjeri leader who traversed the Indigenous and settler worlds. While Dawes and Barak would not be considered theoretical sources, their actions in their time provided models for ways of thinking today.

Gibson looked at Dawes’ attempts to understand the local language. His notebooks reveal that he moved away from a nominalist approach to an increasingly contextualised grasp of their language. This is in part thanks to his intimacy with a local woman, Patyegarang, who helped him appreciate the profoundly relational nature of Indigenous language. Gibson talked about Dawes as a ‘littoral’ person, a marine adept at working in the space between land and sea. His notebooks show a man navigating a shifting world, ‘always in conversation with oneself and other people.’

For Birch, Barak also negotiated between the white man (namatje) and Wurundjeri. Rather than a passive figure, Barak was always navigating a path as a political strategist. An important component of that was his relationship to the first manager of the Aboriginal mission in Coranderrk, John Green. Birch could see echoes here of his own collaborations with namatje such as the artist Tom Nicholson.

Other Australian writers have also recently depicted the first encounters between white and black worlds, such as Inge Clendenin and Kate Grenville. But it is not only in Australia that this interest has emerged. The Argentinean writer Walter Mignolo has written about the Inca historian Guaman Poma, who tried to tell his people’s side of the story in a book The First New Chronicle and Good Government (1615). Poma tried to identify how the best of European and Inca cultures might be combined. In doing this, he used a map dividing the world into four quarters, rich and poor, moral and barbaric.

In modern terminology, civilization and barbarism distinguished the inhabitants or the two upper quarters; while riches and poverty characterized the people living in the lower quarters. On the other hand, the poor but virtuous and the civilized are opposed to the rich and the barbarians. In a world divided in four parts, subdivided in two, binary oppositions arc replaced by a combinatorial game that organizes the cosmos and the society.
Walter Mignolo The Darker Side Of The Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, And Colonization Anne Arbor: University of Michegan Press, 2003, p. 252

The next step would be to gather together scenes of first encounter as they are currently being rehearsed across the South. In these tentative experiences of contact, there is sometimes a brief flicker of dialogue before the full force of colonisation is finally applied. A glimpse of these proto-colonial scenes can speak to those countries where the tide of colonisation is now ebbing in the other direction.