Accepted paper:

Return of 'The Native': Imagining and Reimagining Identity as Iterative Appropriation of Culture and Space

Author:

James Oliver (Monash University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper situates identity as an iterative 'process'. I use concepts of the 'liminal' and 'communitas' to explore negotiations of cultural identity as appropriations of intellectual property, in terms of imaginings of space, including articulations of 'rights' and belonging/s. I also explore epistemological issues with regard to the researcher as 'native'.

Paper long abstract:

I intend to ponder on how the intangible may be imagined as a resource, and thus as a subject of ownership… part of what people have at their disposal in organising and thinking about their lives. (Strathearn, unpublished) What processes rather than essences are involved in present experiences of cultural identity? (Clifford, 1988: 275) This paper is cast from participant-observation exploring how people 'do' identity in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd. The Gàidhealtachd can be described as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland but it is more intangible and unbounded than that, it is also a cultural space or imagining. This is also an area of Scotland with a strong tradition of out-migration, and a more recent history of generational language-shift and in-migration, particularly from the rest of the UK, and more recently from continental Europe. In his book The Predicament of Culture James Clifford (1988) argues that culture (now in a globalised, 'post-modern' and technologically advancing context) is less about a site of origins and rooting than of translation and transplanting. We might add, for clarification, that tensions between these can still persist (i.e. between origins and translation). With this in mind, in this paper I situate identity as an iterative 'process'. I use concepts of the 'liminal' and 'communitas' to explore negotiations of cultural identity as appropriations of intellectual property, in terms of space, including articulations of 'rights' and belonging/s. I also explore epistemological issues with regard to the researcher as 'native'.

panel P49
Owning identities