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SURCLA Presents | La Bestia as Transpacific Phenomenon: Indigenous People, Camps, Violence and Agamben's State of Exception

17 October, 2013

Dr Vicki Grieves, ARC Indigenous Research Fellow, University of Sydney
Joint research seminar with the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies.

This paper seeks to establish a transpacific epistemological connection through exploration of a surprising parallel that exists between Indigenous peoples of Australia and Mexico and Central America. An insider, Indigenous knowledges framework for defining the phenomenon recognised and named by the people themselves as la bestia reveals the redundancy of modernist, neo-liberal interpretations of Indigenous disadvantage. La bestia is identified within the train that speeds North to the promise of a carefree, even luxurious life, that also collects human bodies, deposits them in camps along the way and cynically destroys them. While it has been understood as a purely localized phenomenon of the (mythological) quest of the peoples of Central America and Mexico for modernity, here it is described and analysed as operative within the predominantly white, settler colonial nation of Australia and possibly in other contexts as well. The Beast can be identified within the phenomenon of Aboriginal camps in Australia and camps in Mexico that exist predominantly for Indigenous people, farmers and nomads who no longer have a home. These transpacific camps are similar in that the members are defined as representatives of inferior races and socially undeveloped subjects of modernity. However, when analysed utilising the concept of biopolitics and the theoretical approach of Georgio Agamben, they can be seen as exterior and incidental to the citizenry of the state, existing in a state of exception, with no means of redress.

Location: New Law Annex 105

Contact:Dr Fernanda Peñaloza

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