the games

Rob Schaap rws at
Mon Aug 28 00:57:34 PDT 2000

G'day Catherine,

You wondered what I meant by:

>>So suddenly there ain't a reliable
>>premise for anything. So people say nothing. So we get ghettoes and the

Well, the fact that you and I can safely assume some common understandings about what is locally acceptable, and likely to be assumed by each to be tolerable or understood by the other, makes the dreaded first line more manageable. I mean that not necessarily as in chatting-up - just in chatting in general - say, coz we find ourselves stuck in a lift or at a refectory table together.

As one Singaporean (a class of ferrener for whom language is not an issue, but for whom appearance and accent are) told me: 'Everyone's been really polite and helpful, but no-one ever just talks to me, even at the urinal'.

Now why would that be?

My guess is most Australians don't actually despise 'Asian'-looking folks, yet I don't see Anglo-Asian romances and mixed drinking teams commensurate with the number of Asians on campus. I reckon my Singaporean mate is on to something, meself. He has no real problem with we 'skippies' at all, but he does his refectory-sitting, his drinking and his romancing in exclusively Asian circles. Skippies are comfy with him in tutorials, at library desks, in shops - anywhere where the nature of the intercourse is neatly defined and circumscribed. But where the coming together is such that the relationship is entirely dependent on the participants, well there the exchange is generally polite rather than carefree, diplomatic rather than jocular, self-conscious rather than comfortable. And I reckon that's coz one or both suspect/s they should be more careful than they're used to being with the business of relation-forming communication. Why? Coz there's no assumed commonality of ideal-type/default attitudes/sprachspiel.

It's harder than usual to get to a comfy mateship from such beginnings, and that's what I suspect I see when I see the racial segregation (mini-ghettoisation) that persists in our university refectory. How much that has to do with urban agglomerations, I dunno. I can see how these perpetuate themselves, but suspect they *begin* via the sort of relational stuff I'm talking about.

Waddya reckon?

Cheers, Rob.

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