Who's Upsetting Who? Strangeness, Morality, Nostalgia, Pleasure

Gillian Cowlishaw

Abstract

What is the relationship between negative sentiments towards different kinds of people and the actual difficulties posed by people with different habits and practices living close by one another? Such difficulties are a space of fear and silence because, in this multicultural postmodernworld, we are supposed to celebrate difference in all its manifestations. It is this orthodoxy I want to examine. Let me first note that difficult differences of social practices and preferences are experienced within cultural or racial groups, even within families, as those with teenaged children may be the first to admit. As an anthropologist I begin by taking up a cultural studies practice, turning the analytic eye onto ourselves. Where better to begin than at the dinner party, that quintessential ceremony of white middle-class urban social life, and as good a place as any to glimpse the role played by Aborigines in our tribe’s imagination.

Keywords

Racism; Australia; race relations

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