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Wednesday, December 4 • 3:30pm - 5:30pm
BREAKOUT SESSION FOUR: Anti-Fascism

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Chair: RituParna Roy 

Vinod Bal: #TheyAreUs in the wake of the Christchurch Terrorist Attacks

In the wake of the March 15th Christchurch terrorist attacks, hashtag ‘they are us’ emerged swiftly by the majority in every facet of New Zealand. From the highest levels of the state to the ground-roots of the country, the phrase was said, mostly, without any confirmation from those actually targeted by the attack. Using Robin Diangelo’s seminal work on White Fragility, this paper elucidates how this movement, while well-intentioned, is part of a broader function of whiteness that hinders much needed articulation of racism and anti-racist strategies in New Zealand. This paper argues that #TheyAreUs represents more than just a successful attempt at deflection but rather a denial of any call to New Zealanders to introspect their own racialized prejudices and a failed attempt to acknowledge this event as a part of a growing re-emergence of white supremacy. The chant facilitated a dissociative stance toward the racist attacks while maintaining the racial status quo. Such strategies perpetuate an environment that is passively permissive to white supremacy by absolving New Zealanders of responsibility by adopting a position of victimhood and innocence. This paper concludes that this movement is paradoxical and harmful to those targeted by this attack.


Erica Lee: Race, affect and psychoanalysis

In the book Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump (2018), Asad Haider brings attention to the “self-colonising trajectory of certain forms of identity politics” among the racially oppressed. There exists a paradox: for the racially oppressed to reappropriate the imposed negative identities as a source of pride, to use as a form of defense and protection, they remain under the subjection of racial ideology. These identities are not easily given up, one reason being that the reclamation involves self-driven reworkings of one’s own racial trauma, the process itself often being traumatic. Scholars point to the unconscious to explain such attachment to racial identities and the affective strength of these attachments.Thus, this paper aims to trace various psychoanalytic theorising of racial subjection/subjectivation and affect in the current literature. This will form the basis to construct an anti-colonial theoretical framework for the racially subjectivated psyche.


Matthew Wynyard: ‘Starving in the midst of plenty’: The dispossession of Māori land and Crown ‘compensation

Article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi guarantees to Māori the full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of any land they wish to retain. In the century or so that followed the signing of Te Tiriti, and in complete contempt of it, Māori were systematically dispossessed of all but a tiny fraction of their lands through a variety of mechanisms including raupatu, the individualization of title, forced sale to defray survey costs, excessive Crown purchasing, and the compulsory acquisition of land for defense and public works purposes. Māori land holdings diminished to just 5 per cent of Aotearoa comprising mostly inaccessible backcountry, totally unsuitable for development. This paper draws on an emergent body of indigenous critical theory, Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation and the author’s experiences working as a Crown historian to argue that the loss of land systematically excluded Māori from the developing land-based capitalist economy and that the current Treaty settlement process, which typically involves the return of little, if any, productive land, does little to address the perilous position of many Māori in an economy that is still very much based on the possession of land.


Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.