2020 Semester 2

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6 replies
  1. Andrea-P
    Andrea-P says:

    Skin and Kin
    I have noticed that people close to me who are in avoidance relationships are very subtle. If I didn’t know about the avoidance relationship I might not even notice. Examples include one colleague leaving the room and another entering; and a grandmother giving a message to a child for her son in law. It seems quite natural. In my own culture I cant think of a similarity although there is an expectation of not partnering with close kin eg first cousins.
    I have found the easiest way to remember kinship terms is through being with bininj. If I hadn’t spent a year in Gunbalanya I would probably need to rely on the skin chart. I have not heard some of the terms taught in this course used in Community. Others are used in a slightly different way, including ‘Mamam’ and ‘Korlonj’.
    Most of my bininj friends use the daily time clock that I also use. However, the seasons are different to what I am used to. There are the six seasons mentioned in the course and I have been told that the dates relate to when different foods are available and traveling to different places rather than specific dates (eg Spring commencing on September 1). I have become used to more of a three season system in the top end of Northern Territory: wet, dry and cool, build up. The three seasons I refer to probably fit better into the six seasons described in this course by splitting each of mine into two parts; rather than the European Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring version that I was taught as a child.
    The other part of the time concept is that the language does not capture the future like English does. It is very interesting to learn this because Kunwinjku speakers seem to have no difficulty explaining future concepts without having specific ways to capture verbs in the future tense.

    • Colin Barker
      Colin Barker says:

      It is interesting reading your perspective of avoidance relationships, particularly as you are in daily contact with indigenous people up north compared to myself who has had no contact before, being down south, we feel quite removed here.

  2. Kellie-D
    Kellie-D says:

    Skin and Kin
    I find avoidance relationships fascinating. It happens a lot at work where particular drivers are unable to pick up particular patients given their relationship. A lot of ballander mob get frustrated at this which is a shame as carrying out appropriate cultural ways is so important to the empowerment of Indigenous Australians. There is nothing similar in my culture to this however I guess speaking about women’s business wouldn’t happen with your brother or dad a lot of the time however I have no strict avoidance relationships. I have skin and kin chart written really big on a whiteboard at home to help me remember.

    I love when you ask a patient what time an incident occurred and they ask their child where the sun was when it happened. It is so incredible that they are still so accurate at telling western time by the positioning of the sun. Similarly, I was told by a Larrakia man that if there is a memory in their head, then they can say an event happened ‘not that long ago’ however if its a story passed down then that event happened ‘long time ago’. This is very interesting to me. Additionally, we go to somewhere like Fiji and embrace and accept ‘Fiji time’ however I find in a clinical setting we are expecting Bininj to be onetime to work and to their appointments. I wonder what would happen if we all adjusted our thinking and embraced ‘Bininj time’.

  3. Emily-B
    Emily-B says:

    The avoidance practises didn’t surprise me as I have been taught a similar tradition by western Australian friends. It is complex and it quite hard to remember however not surprising. In my family culture we don’t have any of these practises however I think the common component is respect within the family unit and the importance of such respect is in both cultures.
    I printed myself a visual so I can refer back to it when I need to revise these complex avoidance terms.
    With time it surprises me how the season are not what date it is but what is happening in the environment. I thought it was, for example, 1st may-30th aug type of thing. I also noticed without minutes time of day is taken by looked at the sun and what else is happening in the day. In the vocab there is hours, day, night, sunset, sunrise but not much in-between. This is very different for my culture as we track and plan our day around the clock.
    This might impact their lives by mealtimes be around when they wake to the sun whether then its 7am its breakfast time. Or adjusting to the school routine with a teacher running by the clock and possibly expecting children to understand that there is ‘only 5-minutes left’ rather than in a short time.

  4. Zenobia-J
    Zenobia-J says:

    Like everyone else, I find the avoidance relationships concept complex but interesting. I am still struggling to remember the different variations, but has now added that to my family chart to hopefully get a better handle on this. This is not something that I have encountered in my, or other, cultures, but fundamentally it all comes down to respect, which is an ambition of most families in most cultures. Now that we are learning an increasing number of skin and kin terms, I am not sure that my way of learning, using a chart, is that good anymore. It is becoming just a little too complex to capture simply. I might try mnemonics to see whether I can come up with a creative way to learn this.
    Time is of great interest to me. I am a geochronologist in my profession, so I deal with telling and determining time on a daily basis. I remember the first time I worked with Bininj when it dawned on me that what I do is of very little interest to them. It was quite confronting! My concept of time is so embedded in western science and the notion of past, present and future, all happening on a linear scale. Through this course and my interactions with Bininj, I have become increasingly interested in understanding Indigenous concepts around time and how these perspectives can work respectfully alongside each other. Bininj’s connectedness to the environment that then really influence their experience of time is so much more meaningful than the 24 hour, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, 12 month a year round-the-clock chase after time experience we live. The only example I can think of where there may be some cultural differentiation is in my culture where we very often use the word nou-nou (direct translation = now-now). When written in English, one would interpret this as meaning very urgently now, but in fact it means it may have already happened in the past, or it may happen soonish and that soonish can be whenever into the future. It has confused many a English person!

  5. Colin Barker
    Colin Barker says:

    skin and kin,
    for me the avoidance of relationships is a difficult concept to understand but I guess it works for the bininj, it is hard for me to remember all the different skin names and the family members,
    many other cultures have different notions of time so this part I can understand, and it gives greater importance to time if you are in tune with the seasons and growing things, so it gives greater importance than perhaps western people would.

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