Raewyn Connell – the pond of small boats

Last night Raewyn Connell gave the first lecture of the Southern Perspectives series at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies. ‘Thinking South: Re-Locating Australian Intellectual Culture’ covered many points about the relation between Australia and the metropolitan centres of the North:

  • Paulin Hountondji’s concept of extraversion and the construction of local disciplines as ‘data mines’ for the North
  • The establishment of humanities in Australia was a bastion of classical languages
  • The new ‘audit culture’ in academics that focuses on the top ranking journals of the North
  • The career of Australian pre-historian Gordon Childe
  • The condition of Australians who go North to conquer the metropole, such as the pre-historian Gordon Childe and Germaine Greer
  • Those who travel in the opposite direction such as those studying Indigenous knowledges
  • Those who work in between the centre and periphery such as Patrick White
  • The emotional attachment to the northern metropole, such as that ‘smoky pub in Oxford’
  • By contrast to Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, a pond of small boats

It was a full house for her talk, and there were many questions:

  • Impediments for people living in countries like East Timor to access academic journals
  • The role of Australia as a hegemonic power in the Pacific
  • The difficulty of confronting emotional attachments to intellectual authorities

Here she gives a quick summary of her talk, and reflects on the discussion afterwards.

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