Who Do I Serve?

Lisa Slater

Abstract


A 
few 
years 
ago 
I 
was 
recalling 
fieldwork 
anxieties 
to 
a 
colleague. 
His 
response 
was to
 ask,
 ‘who
 do
 you
 serve?’
 The
 question
 threw
 me:
 I
 wanted
 to
 say,
 ‘No
 one,
 I’m
 Australian’. 
A 
simple 
provocation 
and 
I 
become
 a 
wild 
colonial 
girl. 
We 
had 
attended
 a 
conference 
in 
Delhi 
together 
and 
it 
got 
him
 reminiscing 
about 
his 
time 
as 
a 
student
 in 
India: 
he 
spent 
a
 few 
years 
studying 
and 
travelling, 
accumulating 
friends,
stories,
 bits 
and 
pieces 
of 
learning 
and 
love 
and 
devotion 
to 
the 
country. 
From
memory,
 the conversation
 took 
place 
after 
we’d
 returned
 to 
Melbourne. 
We 
were
having
 one
 of
 those
 nurturing
 collegial
 conversations:
 someone
 keeping
 me
 company
 as
 I
 gently
 worried 
away 
at 
the 
ethical 
conundrums
 of 
cultural 
research.
He 
told 
me 
that
 from
 his
 long,
 indolent
 time
 spent
 meandering
 around
 India
 it
 is
 the
 question
 from
 a
 student
 friend
 that
 returned
 to
 him 
most
 readily,
 keeping
 him 
in
 check.
 His
 friend
 asked
 matter‐a‐factly,
 ‘who
 do
 you
 serve?’
 It
 was
 intended
 as
 a
 straightforward
 question,
 assumed
 to
 have
 a
 ready
 answer:
 not
 designed
 to
 illicit
 consternation,
 anger
 and
 certainly
 not
 existential
 angst.
 He
 couldn’t
 answer.
 But
 he
 said
 now
 he
 regularly 
reflects 
upon 
it.
 The 
answer 
had 
become 
his 
navigational 
star.


Keywords


Cultural Studies; Research

Full Text:

PDF

References


BIRD ROSE, D., 1996. Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness. Canberra: Australian Heritage.

GIBSON, R., 2010. Intimacy. Cultural Studies Review, Vol 16(1), pp. 170-176.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/csr.v16i1.1456