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DDIN Reading Group – Unsettling Settler Identities: Obstacles of Shame and Fragility

May 2, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Video Conference Reading Group

Led by Emily Beausoleil, People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

Edward S. Casey and Mary Watkins, “The Souls of Anglos.” Up Against the Wall: Re-imagining the U.S.-Mexican Border. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2014. Up_Against_the_Wall Casey Watkins 2014
Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility.” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy 3.3 (2011): 54-70. White Fragility – DiAngelo 2011

Why these readings:
Unsettling settler dominance is – well, unsettling. It means contending with histories, identities, and responsibilities that are uncomfortable to face and, largely, easy to ignore and discount. If facing these realities and one’s implication in them is as vital to questions of justice, place, and relationship as they are painful to acknowledge, how can we begin to understand the affects that stand in the way of this acknowledgment among dominant groups? This reading group brings together two of the most insightful, provocative, and relevant readings for this line of questioning: psychologist and scholar Mary Watkins writes powerfully about the role of shame and forgetting among dominant (Anglo American) communities, while race and social justice scholar and trainer Robin DiAngelo outlines the now-famous notion of ‘white fragility.’
This is a low-stakes discussion to explore these ideas and the questions and reflections they raise together. Please read these pieces in advance and bring any notes you might have jotted down as you read them.

Questions to consider:
1. Watkins observes that the forgetting of history by settlers is to their own detriment. Is she correct in her characterization, and claim of the damage this does?
2. What makes the difference in rare moments when shame leads to productive (transformative, restorative) encounters rather than retreat?
3. These authors discuss interpersonal encounters (and redress) of systemic historical injustices for which we are collectively responsible. What is the connection between individual and collective (in)justice?
4. How do (or don’t) the observations and reflections from these articles relate to the context of Pakeha communities in Aotearoa New Zealand? What implications might we draw, if any, from those connections and differences?

Bio: Emily Beausoleil is a Lecturer of Politics at Massey University and Associate Editor of Democratic Theory journal. As a political theorist, she explores the conditions, challenges, and creative possibilities for democratic engagement in diverse societies, with particular attention to the capacity for ‘voice’ and listening in conditions of inequality. Connecting affect, critical democratic, postcolonial, neuroscience, and performance scholarship, Beausoleil’s work explores how we might realize democratic ideals of receptivity and responsiveness to social difference in concrete terms. Her work has been published in Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, Constellations, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and Ethics & Global Politics, as well as various books.

Emily will be located at Massey Wellington in Room 25, Level E, Block 5. You can join her in person there or “in person” from the following universities’ video-conferencing rooms but you must register with Melanie m.milicich@auckland.ac.nz to let her know which room  you are coming to (Please mention DDIN in the email subject) or use the register button at the bottom of this page:
Auckland: Arts 1 Building, 206-510.
Massey Albany:
ALB LIB1.22A, Level 1, Albany Library. Telephone Extension: 43761
Massey Manawatu: MTU LIB2.45, Room 2.45, Level 2, Turitea Library. Telephone Extension: 85422
Massey Wellington:WLG 5E25, Room 25, Level E, Block 5. Telephone Extension: 63862
Victoria: Kelburn Campus RB903
Canterbury: Rm 164, Ground Floor, Psychology Building, Canterbury University
Otago: AVC3, ITS Teaching Facilities, Ground Floor, South-West Corner of the IS Building, Corner of Cumberland & Albany Streets

Please note we only open the video-conferencing rooms if people register to attend there.

AUT  and Waikato: please contact your IT helpdesk and they can assist you to book a a video conferencing room at your University.

You can also join from your desktop via videoconferencing using Zoom. Please contact Melanie  m.milicich@auckland.ac.nz  or use the “register” button below to receive the link.


May 2, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


Avril Bell
09 923 6619