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« Farewell PNG: Reflections on a country of contradictions | Main | China continues criticism of Pacific undersea cable deal »

16 July 2018


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Paul Oates

Clearly Ed, you didn't get any 'bites' to your last query.

Ed Brumby

Culture, it could be said, is a manifest expression of identity.

But what, at its core, is ‘identity’? Just how do we identify ourselves?

The criteria are many and varied, almost always bound by context and often by allegiance and profession/trade/craft/livelihood.

Using the baseline fundamentals of race, place and language, I am a Caucasian, English-speaking Australian.

When travelling overseas I am simply, for the most part, (a Caucasian, English-speaking) Australian’.

Come State of Origin time, I am a ‘(Caucasian, English-speaking) Queenslander – even though I have resided in Melbourne for 40 years.

At other times I am a (Caucasian, English-speaking) Hawthorn/Cowboys-supporter.

And on other occasions I am a retired (Caucasian, English-speaking) Australian teacher/writer/editor/media producer/university and international business executive.

Which makes me wonder how the likes of Rashmii Bell, Francis Nil and Michael Dom would identify themselves ……?

Chris Overland

Paul, my experience in Cornwall was similar to yours. There is a palpable air of tribalism in the county.

Also, I could not help but notice that Cornwall remains strikingly monocultural compared to say, London, Leicester, Birmingham or Manchester.

My ancestors, like yours, emigrated due to the 'Ard Toims that beset the tin miners in the 1850's. Their fare on the ship was paid by the copper mine at Burra otherwise they could not have afforded the trip.

The last miner in my family was my maternal grandfather, Roy Curnow (his surname is Kernowek for "Cornwall"). He started as a "Picky Boi" (sorting ore) in the Moonta copper mines around the age of 14 years.

The Curnow side of my family are still a pretty tight bunch and tremendously proud of their Cornish heritage. All of the women folk and most of the men can make a decent pasty!

I guess some Papua New Guineans might be surprised that the dim dims are more tribalized than they may have imagined.

However, a quick look at the nationalistic uproar over the World Cup provides a clue that tribal feelings still run pretty deep in many cases.

In fact, such sentiments remain a source of anxiety for EU leaders because they have often provided the impetus for war, much as they do in PNG.

Interstate rivalries have always been an issue in Australia, with Western Australia expressing a wish to secede on at least a couple of occasions. We tend to manage these pressures through the gloriously named process of Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation which is presided over by the Grants Commission.

So far, we have managed to avoid open warfare, unless you count the annual Queensland/NSW rugby clashes and the fierce interstate rivalries in the AFL.

Paul Oates

Having ancestors that come from Cornwall (No Union Jacks fly there but only the Black and White St Pirian's) they are now recognised as a distinct social group within the UK.

When I asked why my great grandparents emigrated in the 1850's, my distant cousin who know owns the Oates family farm in Cornwall said: "Oh! 'Ard Toims, 'ard toims."

Having just visited Ireland, in the potato famine of the 1840's over one million people were left to starve to death by the English Anglo Irish landlords. Many others emigrated to America and Australia etc.

Old feelings still run strong in both Ireland and Scotland even to this day and are conveniently fanned by the local politicians for their own political capital.

It's hard for Australians to appreciate just how deep the local tribal feelings still run in various parts of the UK. Scratch anyone who comes from an Australian State and they will declare where they come from but still owe allegiance to our nation.

Not necessarily in the UK these days especially after Brexit.

Michael Dom

Overlander - that's just coolex!

Like Highlander and Coastlander and Queenslander.

Bugger the Cockroaches.

And I reckon a beard would fit your cow-horn helmet, Chris, don't listen to Phil, he's Irish, ha,ha!

Vanessa Gordon

I totally agree. “Culture is important but our collective humanity is more so.”

This world is melting pot of cultures, colours and traditions.

Philip Fitzpatrick

It's important to know where you come from because it can actually explain some of your physical and psychological characteristics.

I can find ancestors in my recent past that looked and acted a lot like I do today, both in Ireland and in England.

On the Irish side we come from around Waterford, which was once a Viking settlement. My son (and his sons) have red hair, just like his Viking ancestors.

PS: There is no evidence that Vikings had helmets with cow's horns on them, it's a show business invention.

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