Morgan Brigg (Queensland)

* your point about the “violent erasure of non-European thought in critically minded projects” certainly resonates with me. but I’m probably pursuing this in my own quirky way. i gave a paper (still very rough – presentation notes, really) at a symposium on indigenous knowledge at sydney uni late last year. i’ll give an updated version here at uq in june. fyi, the abstract:

Engaging Indigenous Knowledge in the Academy: From Sovereign to Relational Selves
Morgan Brigg, UQ.
Mainstream knowledge production relies upon the figure of a discrete and self-sufficient knowing subject as the locus of knowing. In universities and other dominant knowledge institutions the official story tells us that this figure achieves distance from his/her “subject matter” to generate objective and valid knowledge. But this version of the knowing self is a thinly-disguised fiction, and the accompanying knowledge practices are an elaborate set of tricks which researchers play on themselves and others daily. This orthodoxy generates a series of patterned contradictions and an imbalanced and destructive hierarchy of knowledge practices. The resulting knowledge complex militates against engaging Indigenous Knowledge. Somewhat paradoxically though, this same dominant knowledge complex also contains possibilities for engagement. Ideas of relatedness, connection, and local interaction have potential for making links with – and facilitating – Indigenous Knowledge in the academy. These and related ideas are expressed in methodological and theoretical schemas as innovative and diverse as autoethnography, contingency theory, and complex adaptive systems. Much traditional scholarship and those heavily invested in the dominant knowledge complex will struggle to embrace the relational foundation of such approaches. However, navigating relationality and absolutism is a key challenge of our time, and as an instance of what can be gained through engage across different approaches to knowledge, I argue that Indigenous Knowledge provides mainstream knowers with a demonstration of how to have supple enough minds to accommodate the relational alongside the absolute. In the process of working with both the relational and the absolute we might reconfigure our own selves as researchers and build meaningful links and collaborations which help to facilitate the reception and development of Indigenous Knowledge in the university setting.

* on foucault and deleuze, i think the problem is mainly with the acolytes. but then the fact that there are so many of them makes it a problem for the ‘brand’, so to speak. i don’t do much with Foucault and Deleuze now, and I partly moved away because i got tired of many of the followers not doing anything very interesting. I think both F & D would be pissed off re the followers, i think that at one point F referred to criticism as the art of reflective insolence, and he certainly wanted people to apply that to his work. but we don’t see much of that…

* on the deleuze – fanon framing, in some ways this interests me, but you’ll see from above that i’m on a slightly different trip. i’m also thinking about playing around with bruno latour’s (another european!) work on political ecology, which for me has the advantage of opening up an exchange with the sciences (the above paper draws a lot on latour). and i’m interested in making links directly with australian aboriginal thought, although that’s a tough and long-term gig. none of this is to say that i think you’re off track with what you propose – i’m partly just musing through where i sit in relation to it.

* i think there is a lack of exchange btw these authors and the ‘traditions’ they represent, but i’m not positioned quite right to be able to comment in a very firm way about it, or about what my vision of it would be. if i were to ‘join the project’ i’d have to immerse myself in both authors, and i’m probably not able to do that given the other interests i note above.

* but, i have a sense – more than a sense, actually – that there is a very strong resonance between the type of work that you’re talking about and what i’m planning/hoping to do as mentioned above. similarly, it sounds like we’re interested in similar things – that our work is animated by similar concerns…!

* so that leaves me saying that i’d be interested to see where this goes, and to see along the way if there might be way to link up on the key themes if not on the authors… what do you think?


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