P08
Is biculturalism possible? The theory and ethnography of the bicultural adept
Convenors:
Paul Burke (Australian National University)
Elizabeth Watt (New South Wales Government)
Format:
Panels
Location:
Hancock Library, room 2.24
Sessions:
Tuesday 3 December, 16:15-18:00

Short abstract:

What is the hype and the reality of the lives stretched to master two quite different cultures? Originally identified as key intermediary figures in remote Indigenous communities and in Indigenous diaspora, the panel seeks broader ethnographic examples and critical examination of biculturalism.

Long abstract:

Interest in bicultural adepts, people with the ability to 'walk in two worlds', was initially sparked through the key role of such people in sustaining an Indigenous diaspora away from remote communities and the active promotion of biculturalism as a policy goal in promoting boarding school education for Indigenous students. This panel seeks contributions that would provide further ethnographic specificity and conceptual clarity to the idea of biculturalism in Indigenous and multicultural Australia and beyond. Ethnographic specification could proceed by way of biography, relevant ethnographic research or personal reflections about anthropologists' own experience of biculturalism in the course of their research. Conceptual clarification could proceed by way of critical examination of how the exaggerated ideas of cultural separation, implicit in biculturalism, are constructed and deployed in the public arena and in policy discourse; comparison with Du Bois's idea of 'double consciousness'; comparison with perennial issues of theorising agency and structure (for example, biculturalism as a conflicted habitus); models of compartmentalisation, social code-switching and the limits of such models.