“We don’t look back enough to go forward, I don’t think. We need to look in the rear view mirror everyday”. Professor Mick Dodson AM, a Yawuru Aboriginal man, Australian barrister, academic and recently retired Director of the National Centre of Indigenous Studies at ANU, talks to our own Julia Brown about some of the ongoing struggles for Indigenous Australians.
As the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby powerfully put it, it would help if we didn’t start by seeing females and males as being from different planets. Experiences of violence and the broader social receptiveness to vulnerability, along with the manifestation of mental disorders and treatment, are influenced - but not entirely determined by gender.
As anthropologist Kirin Narayan put to readers of her book Alive in the Writing, the creative process of ethnographic writing can grow from ‘the impulse to find company amid the often isolating and difficult aspects of writing’. In ethnographic writing, we need to somehow re-galvanise our fieldwork experiences that are now in the past.
At what point does a moment of mutual intimacy become intrusive, or even violent? As ethnographers, we strive to learn the dance of our participants; we follow their lead as they generously guide us through their worlds. That dancing can be enthralling and as intense as it is intimate, and it can also invite unintentional violence.