“Since , O Mazda from the beginning, Thou didst create soul and body, mental power and knowledge , and since Thou didst bestow to mankind the power to act , speak and guide , you wished that everyone should chose their own faith and path freely.”

Zaratostra - Yasna 31, Verse 11

One who always thinks of his own safety and profit, how can he love the joy-bringing Mother Earth? The righteous man that follows Asha's Law shall dwell in regions radiant with Thy Sun, the abode where wise ones dwell.”

Zaratostra Yasna, Verse 2

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Abstract for the Symposium by Dr James Oliver

Ways of Seeing, Being and Becoming: identity as performance of place and belonging

This paper explores how people act on and do identity in contexts (or sites) of place-based belonging, with particular focus on contexts where colonial contact has informed a legacy of cultural (and territorial)  assimilation, appropriation, and alienation; including processes of population decline and migrations.

With a particular focus on embodied and spatial negotiations of place, this paper explores the ontology of ‘being in place’ as a modality of identity that informs and subverts the national imaginary, where sites of identity are a stage (as both platform and process) of understanding and informing identities.

The paper employs examples of identity, place and alienation in an ethnographic journey from the Scottish Hebrides to the Australian continent.

Dr. James Oliver, McCaughey Centre, School of Polulation Health, The University of Melbourne.

James is a Research Fellow in the School of Population Health at The University of Melbourne. He was awarded his PhD in 2003 at The University of Sheffield, where he was supervised by social anthropologists Sharon Macdonald and Richard Jenkins. The thesis explored the identity negotiations of young people in relation to the Gaelic language, culture and place, in Scotland. This work was funded by UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, as was his subsequent postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Edinburgh. Subsequent to this he has worked across a range of projects and practices broadly relating to place, culture and identity; including, amongst homeless people in Glasgow, in arts development for the Scottish Arts Council, and more recently amongst marginalized communities in Melbourne. His work is developing with increasing reference to arts practice and research, with continuing relevance to the social relations and productions of culture, place and identity.

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