Silenced relations
Migrant poetics
in Translations, an autoethnography
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The migrant, differentiated from the colonists by a willingness to acknowledge their foreignness, recognises that (self-)becoming at this place depends on creating ‘a space of (co-)appearance’. ‘To appear at all it was necessary to invent a host able to form a relationship; without this creative ethnography, the human encounter was, for the migrant, impossible.’ Hunting my anthropological, ethnographic and creative interests is the lost subject whose very homelessness shatters the mirror state of a nation constructed around binary exclusions. I cite a number of Aboriginal ‘orphans’ whose fate anticipates the migrant’s always imminent deracination, and discuss how a permanent sound installation, The Pipes, approached the representation of a forgotten Kaurna woman, Kalloongoo, aka Charlotte. The Pipes drew on a sound composition called Cooee Song. This chapter concludes with a reflection on the significance of the word-sound ‘cooee’ throughout my work. ‘Cooee’ is the archetypal unit of a migrant poetics: its two syllables, like the two halves of the symbol, embody the migrant’s destiny, the twinned desire of being lost and being found.

Translations, an autoethnography

Migration, colonial Australia and the creative encounter

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