… a violent recurrence of coloniality
Australia, an island continent and a “settler society,” is a case of double exclusion through colonial mentalities and violence recurring in the present. First, with the refugee crisis, Australia has outsourced refugees to remote camps on islands in external territories. Second, Australia’s long history of encamping, isolations and socially distancing unwanted and feared populations is playing out in the contemporary pandemic context. Australia is a contradictory case in relation to migrants (Tazreiter 2015, 2020a, 2020b; Boochani, Tazreiter and Tofighian, forthcoming).
On the one hand, settler Australia, since the period of British settlement over two hundred years ago, is an open, multicultural country that acknowledges the enormous contribution that large waves of immigrants have made to the economic and social viability of society. On the other hand, the exclusionary impulse is evident in irregular migrant arrivals such as refugees, and most forcefully in the treatment of the Indigenous population through policies of cultural genocide such as the “Stolen Generation,” which resulted in children being taken away from parents in an attempt to obliterate language, culture and peoples (Tazreiter 2011). The Australian case also presents important links with South Africa and Lebanon. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, both countries experienced significant emigrations, and Australia was a primary destination country for many South Africans and Lebanese.
Our research focus on convivial methodologies and art practices is centred on Indigenous artists and artists focused on migrant and refugee stories and narratives of displacement and exile. The collaboration with local artists working in these fields (facilitated by our cooperation partner Ass. Prof. Claudia Tazreiter, UNSW Sydney) plans to explore the synergies and fault-lines between lived experience and the imagining of a new conviviality possible THROUGH the subject position of those the system of the exclusionary state pushes to the margins in the hope that they will be silenced and disappear. In contrast, the SPEAKING BACK that occurs through the work of Indigenous and migrant/refugee artists, opens up new spaces and possibilities of conviviality, importantly also with the dominant culture of Anglo-European Australians. It is the contention of this project that all three non-European research territories, as countries of the south (though variously so), offer new possibilities for conceiving conviviality in the “old centre,” which includes Austria.