Doing Difference Together

Culture and Dialogue 1 (2):21-36 (2013)
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Abstract

Our essay begins with a story of a disagreement between a senior Aboriginal elder and an eminent Australian environmental scientist about whether two plants are the same or different. This highly specific disagreement, which occurred in the context of an attempt to exchange knowledge about land management, brings into focus what is involved in developing a philosophically sophisticated postcolonial dialogue as part of knowledge and culture work with Yolŋu Aboriginal Australians. We propose an Australian comparative empirical philosophical inquiry as an intervention located in such encounters to prolong the possibilities for “doing difference” before forming concepts, through which a specific “going on together” becomes possible. We explain why we aspire to dialogue and recognize the worth of ontic discomfort, which might offer resources for ontic innovation. We also briefly discuss a project using a contrived analytic archive of Yolŋu texts, generated over the past twenty-five years.

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