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May 2010

Guest post by Jacinthe Flore

The peculiar experience of growing up in a postcolonial island ties you forever to your place of birth. The place where I am born holds an almost mystical, if not obsessive, fascination. I cannot stand by without some form of reaction to the ongoing political change in Mauritius. So, following Melissa’s suggestion, I ‘write it out of my system’.

Blok 104

Since independence in 1968, the Mauritian ‘Nomination Paper’ – the form used to be considered as a political candidate – includes a field where you have to specify your ‘community’. These four communities are Chinese, Muslim, Hindu and General Population. A distinct group of Mauritian civil society have ingeniously figured out that if any significant change is to take place in the country, this very practice needs to be changed.

The ‘Blok 104’, named after the 104 candidates that refused to specify their community, and whose demand to be considered candidates was denied by the Supreme Court, is composed of social and political activists, ‘intellectuals’ and youth platforms. This political activism is a very powerful tool, and represents a genuine and growing concern that (certain) Mauritians have for the future of their country. This leads to an incredibly ambitious goal: the modification of the Constitution.

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A week that began celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) ended with closet ‘scandals’ in sport and politics. Only days after the IDAHO and the GLORIA awards for homophobic comments made in public, AFL player Jason Akermanis announced that the ‘AFL is not ready’ for openly gay players and the former NSW Minister for Transport, David Campbell, was ‘outed’ leaving a sex on premises venue for men. While one controversy suggested the value of silence surrounding one’s (non-heterosexual) sexuality, another emerged hours later highlighting the consequences of managing sexual visibility. Akermanis suggested that players should remain silent about their sexuality sending out a troubling social message that being gay is not only disturbing but also something to keep hidden in sport.

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Guest post by Sarah Cefai

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Hongwei. I think that the question of how to locate your work when you are speaking publicly is a really important one. You never know exactly what your audience knows. This is particularly so in an interdisciplinary learning environment, where the people in your audience have very different levels and kinds of knowledge.

As a speaker you have to presume a level of understanding, yet you only have a certain amount of choice over making this presumption for it already substantially inheres in the concepts and language that comprise your work. Something else to consider is that some types of research and styles of knowing are more accessible than others because of their cultural and political location; it would be paradoxical and impractical to place a demand for ‘accessibility’ on intellectual criticism. That said, I genuinely share in some of your frustration. As a Brit I’m sure I experience it in quite different terms: while I might not necessarily understand the disciplinary history of other peoples’ projects, the use of the English language, for example, is never something that registers as an impediment to understanding.

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