Publication Details

Slater, L. (2010). Who do I serve?. Cultural Studies Review, 16 (1), 10-13.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Cultural Studies Review


When I arrived in Aurukun, it was the heat that struck me first, knocking the city pace from my body, replacing it with a languor familiar to my childhood, although heavier, more northern. Fieldwork brings with it its own delights and anxieties. It is where I feel most competent and incompetent, where I am most indebted and thankful for the generosity and kindness of strangers. I love the way ‘nowhere’ places quickly become somewhere and something to me. Then there are the bodily visitations: a much younger self haunts my body. At times my adult self abandons me, leaving me nothing but an awkward adolescent: clumsy, sweaty, too much body, too white, too urban, too disconnected or unable to interpret the social rules. Flailing about, unmoored from the sociocultural system that I take for granted, and take comfort from—from which I draw sustenance. Misusing Deborah Bird Rose, I’m tempted to say I’m separated from my nourishing terrain.1 Indeed it can feel like the nation (not the country) slipped out from under my feet.