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The Locals

Identity, Place and Belonging in Australia and Beyond


Rob Garbutt

This book presents the first comprehensive survey of being a local, in particular in Australia. As in much of the colonised, English-speaking world, in Australia the paradox is that the locals are not indigenous peoples but migrants with a specific ethnic heritage who became localised in time to label other migrants as the newcomers and outsiders. Claims of belonging as ‘local’ provide a crucial insight into power relations that extend beyond the local level to questions of national identity and the ethics of belonging in a postcolonial, multicultural nation. How have Anglo-Celtic Australians installed themselves as locals? Where do Indigenous Australians stand in this local politics of identity? What are the ethical considerations for how we connect our identities to places while also relating to others in a time of intensifying migration? This book explores these questions via a multidisciplinary cultural studies approach and a mixed methodology that blends a critical language study of being local with auto-ethnographical accounts by the author, himself a ‘local’.


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Acknowledgements -xiii


Acknowledgements The Locals began as a PhD thesis and so has been supported by many people. I would like to thank Aunty Irene Harrington and Professor Judy Atkinson who were always available when I have sought advice regarding walking on Aboriginal land. Annie Bolitho, Emma Kearney and Diana Sweeney provided much needed peer support throughout the life of this project. Southern Cross University generously granted me an internal scholar ship, and my heartfelt thanks go to all those who work in the Document Supply section of the Library. The research for this book began with discussions with three non- Indigenous activists for Aboriginal rights in Lismore: Steve Fitzgerald, Judith Light and Tess Brill. They all generously responded to my ques- tions about non-Aboriginal belonging to place. To Tess I owe special thanks for her willingness to participate in a lengthy series of interviews on Aboriginal–settler relations in 1960s Lismore. To my PhD supervisor and mentor, Associate Professor Baden Of ford, my thanks for granting the freedom to explore. Many of the phrases in this book are his and therefore organise much of the thought herein. He also encouraged me to publish my thesis and introduced me to the people who could make that happen. This leads me to thank Graham Speake at Peter Lang and Cultural Identity Studies series editor Professor Helen Chambers for giving me this wonderful opportunity. The many gifts given by my mother and father become clearer as time goes by. The warmth of our home...

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