"We think we are supposed to be comfortable. As long as we are trying to do everything to be comfortable, we will never make a change."
In this themed panel discussion, our own Jodie and Simon sat down with Sana Ashraf and Bruma Rios-Mendoza, two PhD candidates in anthropology at ANU, to talk about decolonization: what it is, and what it means for anthropology, in the academy, in the field, and inside our own minds.
Sana Ashraf's work looks at blasphemy claims and related violence in Pakistan. To learn more about Sana's research, check out her latest publication:
Ashraf, S. (2018). Honour, purity and transgression: Understanding blasphemy accusations and consequent violent action in punjab, pakistan. Contemporary South Asia, 26(1), 51-68. doi:10.1080/09584935.2018.1430745
Bruma Rios-Mendoza's research looks at ritual and world-making among Biak people in West Papua, Indonesia. Find more of her work at Academia: http://anu.academia.edu/BrumaRios
Sana: "Decolonisation to me means recognising the privilege we hold and exercise in everyday life, in our everyday interaction. It’s not just limited to governments and the militaries anymore, it’s the various organisations, institutions, universities, the development sector, a lot of other areas where this privilege is exercised."
Bruma: "Decolonisation is always a process...because there are many new ways in which power is inflicted over others and subjugates them, because there will emerge new ways in which people are being subjugated, no? So this decolonising has to keep on going."
Simon: "As someone who lives in a settler colonial state, I would say that decolonisation is a recognition of the mental and physical violence that was meted out to indigenous peoples by European settlers, and the fact that that was not just at one particular point in time, but has been an ongoing process that continues to this day."
Bruma: "Colonisation is not only about territories, it’s also about ways of engaging between each other...So even countries in Scandinavia, where many have not been active colonisers, still, being part of a world system, we are all kind of in this domination by the status quo of disparity."
Simon: "It [decolonisation] is a matter of justice… people who have been colonised have - again, not a historical gripe, but a legitimate, ongoing claim to having been meted out an injustice that deserves to be corrected, in the same way that you would expect an injustice done to you to be corrected."
Bruma: "We think we are supposed to be comfortable. As long as we are trying to do everything to be comfortable, we will never make a change."
Sana: "I think making decolonisation convincingly beneficial to the people who are in positions of power is basically making it all about them, again, and it’s not all about them, it does not have to be beneficial to them. Why does everything, including decolonisation, have to be beneficial to the people in power?"
Sana: "Your skin color and your nationality and where you come from does not define how you can, or whether you can study a particular country or not. But being conscious of the privileges you bring to the study or to the field is really important, because if you are not conscious and aware of your privilege you can sound and be very patronizing towards a culture, which is not okay."
This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific and College of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, and is produced in collaboration with the American Anthropological Association.
Music by Pete Dabro: dabro1.bandcamp.com
Show notes by Ian Pollock