Thursday, September 13, 2007

territorial propriety

Rey Chow, an American cultural theorist with roots in Hong Kong, writes that she speaks from a position as someone who does "not have claims to territorial propriety or cultural centrality." I'd never really thought about the spatial nature of cultural marginality before.

But when I think about it, I recognise this in myself as a queer, and in the context of disability too. For example, one of my texts claims "this is our community" referring to disabled people; but in doing so, the text reflects the fact that this could be doubted; it's kinda like John Howard (was it?) declaring to a room of Greek-Australians that "I see before me Australians". Like anyone else present doubted this??

Historically, disabled people have been socially excluded spatially, like non-Anglos have been, internally contained in institutions, and prevented from entering the country through immigration policies (that continue to this day to specifically exclude disabled people as potential migrants).

It's less clear how queers are spatially excluded. As a queer, I read in the papers today that Howard continues to assert that people in same-sex relationships should not have equal rights as de facto heteros; Romana the queer officer at UMPA wrote a great article in the recent UMPA mag about how queers are excluded on campus through the heteronormativity of the environment- that is, even where homophobia isn't as overt as Howard wishes it were, there is an exclusion through a lack of visibility, or overt inclusion.

By the way, as a complete aside, one of the women in a reading group I'm in said yesterday that the Vietnamese expression for "Vietnamese-Australian" is "Australian with roots in Vietnam". Isn't that interesting? I think it conveys a relationship with Vietnam and Vietnamese identity that is quite different from the essentialising expression "Vietnamese-Australian."

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