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Migration, colonial Australia and the creative encounter
Author: Paul Carter

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.

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Enigmas of communication
Paul Carter

District and Sturt's Simpson Desert, north-east of Lake Eyre. My ethnographic data were not collected with any great rigour, but I thought they were suggestive. In Tasmania, the aforementioned Hermann Ritz, given as we saw to speculation, expressed the view that one of the Tasmanian songs he helped record in 1899 was an imitation ‘of the melody of the native magpie, which most unmelodiously the zoologists call a “piping crow”’. In the Western District, James Dawson had stood up to the influential theory advanced by Max Müller, that sounds represented ‘essential powers

in Translations, an autoethnography
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Parables of return
Paul Carter

’. The point to make here is that at the level of representation, these notebooks are subterranean – one might mine them for biographical information about the context in which Mirror States was written. From an ethnographic point of view, they are, however, more like James Dawson's Australian Aborigines , transcriptions of primary encounters, the prima materia of my own wayfinding, demonstrating the inadequacy of models of self-becoming based on linear progress or stratified succession. They were involuted, conscious designs for going deeper and getting lost. If

in Translations, an autoethnography
Public spectacles and plebeian expertise, 1840–80
Peter Hobbins

demise. 15 Such responses were distinct from nihilistic north-western Queensland cosmologies which saw in snake-bite the implacable work of sorcery. Portents might also guide intervention. In Victoria’s Western District, ethnographer James Dawson related in 1881 that when ‘a person has been bitten by a snake, and has not been able to discern the species to which it belongs, he is made to look at the sun

in Venomous encounters
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Broken relations, migrant destiny
Paul Carter

charity of strangers, acculturation and socialisation through these channels proceed precariously. In my experience, actual hosts are shadowed by historical hosts, avatars of an original act of recognition or translation missing in the national self-narration. For a time in Australia I lived as much in the foreign country of the past as I did in the equally unceded ground of the present: figures like William Light, responsible for Adelaide's distinctive urban design (1836), James Dawson, amateur ethnolinguist and co-author of Australian Aborigines (1881) and T

in Translations, an autoethnography
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Migrant prehistory
Paul Carter

away in Victoria's Western District where the signature of successful invasion was a parklike prospect that potentially stretched in all directions uninterrupted to the horizon. Here, Berners's Folly had a local antecedent whose symbolic function was antithetical. In 1881 the Scottish colonist James Dawson had just published Australian Aborigines , a remarkable ethnography complete with lengthy vocabularies for the local Dhauwurd or Djagurd Wurrung (Gundidjmara) and Djab Wurrung languages and was ‘Guardian of five pure-blood Aborigines’, four men and a woman who

in Translations, an autoethnography
Steven King

(Oxfordshire), was a visitor of the sick and periodically ‘order’d of them Victuals’ from his own pocket.56 At the other end of the country, James Dawson of Troutbeck (Cumberland) gave £12 per year to the sick poor from 1813 to 1839, mainly in the form of food and clothing.57 The Ampthill (Bedfordshire) diarist Elizabeth Brown also reflected frequently on her own personal charity. Her diary entry for 9 February 1779 noted that she had: In the evening visited a young woman who is sick and destitute of any near relations to administer comfort at these times, being also in

in Sickness, medical welfare and the English poor, 1750–1834
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Colonial constructions of ‘Aboriginal time’
Giordano Nanni

tree, shrub, or flower is in blossom – and for exact assembling they calculate and arrange time in the latter way’. 16 Astronomical knowledge provided a fundamentally important means of marking the passage of time in pre-colonial Australia. James Dawson, a settler in the western District of Victoria – an area originally inhabited by the Djargurd Wurrung people – provided a perceptive description of the

in The colonisation of time
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Gavin Edwards

des menschlichen Kopfes mit eignem Leben begabte, unter einander und mit den Menschen in Verhältniβ stehende selbstständige Gestalten. So in der Warenwelt die Produkte der menschlichen Hand.’ MEGA , 2:8, 101. 4 Karl Marx: The Spectre of Marxism (Thames TV, 1983), written and narrated by Stuart Hall. 5 Capital , p. 423; ‘Verrückung des Verhältnisses von todter und lebendiger Arbeit’: MEGA , 2:8, 310–11. 6 Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (London: Fontana, 1960), p. 294. 7 James Dawson Burn, The Language of the Walls: and a Voice from the

in The Case of the Initial Letter
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Daniel Szechi

Berwick, Thomas Theodorus Deacon, Thomas Chadwick, James Dawson, Andrew Blyde, Donald Macdonald Esq, the Rev. Mr Thomas Coppoch, the Rev. Mr Robert Lyon, Edmund Clavering, John Hamilton Esq, James Bradshaw, Alexander Leith, and Andrew Wood (Edinburgh, 1750), p. 13. See also the last speeches of Sir John Ashton and Archibald Cameron in the Illustrative documents. 22 John Bossy, The English Catholic Community 1570–1850 (London, 1976), pp. 172–81. 23 Miller, James II , p. 153; Ó Ciardha, Ireland and the Jacobite Cause , p. 23; John Watts, Hugh

in The Jacobites (second edition)