Translations is a personal history written at the intersection of colonial anthropology, creative practice and migrant ethnography. Renowned postcolonial scholar, public artist and radio maker, UK-born Paul Carter documents and discusses a prodigiously varied and original trajectory of writing, sound installation and public space dramaturgy produced in Australia to present the phenomenon of contemporary migration in an entirely new light. Rejecting linear conceptualisations of migrant space–time, Carter describes a distinctively migrant psychic topology, turbulent, vortical and opportunistic. He shows that the experience of self-becoming at that place mediated through a creative practice that places the enigma of communication at the heart of its praxis produces a coherent critique of colonial regimes still dominant in discourses of belonging. One expression of this is a radical reappraisal of the ‘mirror state’ relationship between England and Australia, whose structurally symmetrical histories of land theft and internal colonisation repress the appearance of new subjects and subject relations. Another is to embrace the precarity of the stranger–host relationship shaping migrant destiny, to break down art’s aesthetic conventions and elide creative practice with the poetics (and politics) of social production – what Carter calls ‘dirty art’. Carter tackles the argument that immigrants to Australia recapitulate the original invasion. Reflecting on collaborations with Aboriginal artists, he frames an argument for navigating incommensurable realities that profoundly reframes the discourse on sovereignty. Translations is a passionately eloquent argument for reframing borders as crossing-places: framing less murderous exchange rates, symbolic literacy, creative courage and, above all, the emergence of a resilient migrant poetics will be essential.
Or, like the migrant, must they inhabit an ‘as if’ state, permanently suspended in the mid-stride of becoming? Translations reports a personal history of creative encounters, mostly post-dating 1988, that have (most willingly) linked a revisiting of Australia's colonial past to a revisioning of a future place. Bizarrely ambitious, or lucidly naive, their explorations of language, in radio, public art, and dramaturgically extended to street and stage performance, are not art in the Bicentennial genius
alignment with creative phenomena not held to be typical of Australian colonial history and not even, in a certain sense, appropriate to historical enquiry. The parti pris was obvious: documenting and interpreting the different forms of non-communication preserved in colonial place names, in cartographic conventions, in the OuLiPo-like word games of the amateur ethnolinguistic wordlists, I was establishing a bridgehead for myself, where ‘beginning again’ was presented as an overdue collective responsibility whose object was to emancipate creativity: evidence of a
Uffington White Horse. Christine Peacock, a Torres Strait Islander woman with affiliations through marriage to the Turrbal people, whose country includes Brighton and Margate (suburbs of Brisbane), invited me to be involved in a project called ‘Margate to Margate’. Under the rubric supplied by T.S. Eliot, that ‘We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time’, she was proposing a creative research project involving, among others, the London Print Studio, the visual artist
Having written a creative history in terms of ethnographic encounters, I realised that the experience that linked them, migration, had a poetic power of its own. The repeated discovery that aspects of the migrant condition had been anticipated in earlier colonial exchanges between white colonists and Aboriginal people was more than a matter of chance: it was a recognition that something occluded in those early encounters was happening again in public discourse; again, the phenomenon of arrival from outside was nowhere to be found in white
Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in
the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata.
The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to
investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals,
pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical
performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is
made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are
momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book
underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices
can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been
studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the
classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces
at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of
heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument
is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of
six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to
interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a
large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively
about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’
approach to field research and to the making of the book.
stone, failed to address this materiality, its power to generate a new set of creative associations. Equally, it perpetuated an aerialist fantasy of creative activity analogous to the idealised viewpoint of the surveyor (optimal for the orthodox superimposition of patterns undertaken to find mere coincidences compelling enough to suggest a regional algorithm). Considering the spiritual damage done when stone from Mount Jowlaenga in Gija country was cut into blocks and sent south for sawing and cobbling, I wanted to use a local stone for Rival Channels , Brisbane Tuff
What is it like to be a Muslim possessed by a jinn spirit? How do you find refuge
from madness and evil spirits in a place like Denmark? As elsewhere in
Europe and North America, Danish Muslims have become hypervisible through
intensive state monitoring, surveillance, and media coverage. Yet their religion
remains poorly understood and is frequently identified by politicians,
commentators, and even healthcare specialists as the underlying invisible cause
of ‘integration problems’. Over several years Christian Suhr followed
Muslim patients being treated in a Danish mosque and in a psychiatric hospital.
With this book and award-winning film he provides a unique account of the
invisible dynamics of possession and psychosis, and an analysis of how the
bodies and souls of Muslim patients are shaped by the conflicting demands of
Islam and the psychiatric institutions of European nation-states. The book
reveals how both psychiatric and Islamic healing work not only to produce relief
from pain, but also entail an ethical transformation of the patient and the
cultivation of religious and secular values through the experience of pain.
Creatively exploring the analytic possibilities provided by the use of a camera,
both text and film show how disruptive ritual techniques are used in healing to
destabilise individual perceptions and experiences of agency, so as to allow
patients to submit to the invisible powers of psychotropic medicine or God.
The figure of migration, Elias Canetti wrote, was people walking in single file, but he also once described a life as ‘A labyrinth of all the paths one has taken’.
If the first creative reaction to displacement (whether measured jurisdictionally or emotionally) is to take the line for a walk, the next is to determine its coordinates, its location and character in relation to a host of paths taken and untaken. No doubt certain scenes are carried over from one place to another – so that even the barest track is
-making structure, a stochastic region where probabilities outweigh certainties and contradictory positions not only co-exist but are essential to the distribution of governance, the archipelago may turn out to be nothing else than the extraterritorial project of public space.
A creative region of this kind is turbulent. Turbulence, the principle of self-organising complexity, prevents the lines of flights