Another Day in the Colony, Chelsea Watego

It took me a while to realise that in teaching Indigenous anything I was meant to be teaching students to feel good about being a coloniser: that in my presence I was meant to be the site of absolution both for the institution and its students …

I was meant to teach them ways that they could save us, to redeem their unsettled self via sanctioning their continued control over our lives. I was meant to teach us as problems and them as solutions

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READ THIS BOOK!

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Chelsea Watego (Dr Chelsea Bond), Another Day in the Colony, UQP, St Lucia, 2021. 250pp. Cover photograph from Michael Cook’s Broken Dreams series.

Chelsea Watego is a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman born and raised on Yuggera country.

24 thoughts on “Another Day in the Colony, Chelsea Watego

  1. Oh, I picked this up recently in Dymocks and put it down to buy Charlotte Wood’s new non-fiction instead. The Wood, I’m afraid to say, is disappointing.

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  2. I’v heard of this book Bill. Love the quote you’ve chosen to introduce it, but would love a little more, even if I don’t NEED a little more. So interesting to see the thinking coming out now about how we “enact” who we are and what it means for others.

    It is difficult being white right now – which is NOT the same as saying we are victims because clearly we have it all, but to say that it’s hard to know what to do with ourselves.

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    • The most useful thing I have read on your last point is that we should try to amplify voices and read and share joy, not just pain. These came from books by Black women about what White people can do next. Hope that helps a little.

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      • Thanks very much Liz… that is helpful. I haven’t read a lot about what white people can do next (though flagged an article on it that I then lost!) from POC point of view. Mostly it’s been criticism, which of course we can’t help but wear. However it doesn’t move us forward.

        I have heard Indigenous Australians talk about our working together, though, and that’s a good point too. It means that here we need to support what is being asked for, like a treaty and voice to parliament.

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      • My own opinion is that ‘working together’ is just a pious wish – there’s a whole chapter on Indigenous people being misled by ‘hope’ – and that we are at (have long been at) the point where we must accept being the adversary while Indigenous leaders pursue what has been stolen from them, even as recently as Keating and Howard diluting Mabo; and of course the almost complete and continuing failure to rein in racist police.

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    • You know my POV that whites cannot begin to understand let alone represent in fiction how people of colour feel racism. Watego makes two points which nevertheless surprised me – that white academics still make themselves spokespeople for and experts on Indigenous affairs; and just how badly she was treated by the institution(s) who employed her. She doesn’t say, though I think she says ‘sandstone’ at one point, so I’m guessing University of Queensland.

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      • I’m listing a book in my New Releases post tonight which gave me a bit of pause: a white academic astronomer has written about First Peoples knowledge of the stars. I wonder about the politics of it. I haven’t seen it or what involvement the people themselves had, but I agree there is an issue I think about white academics making a career out of First Nations’ studies.

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      • I was pleased in the How to Read Water book I ploughed through recently that when the author was talking about Indigenous people’s ability to navigate, he either reported directly what he’d learnt from going out in boats with islanders or other people’s direct experiences and the islanders’ words. That seemed a decent way to do it.

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