SBL Auckland Friday and some reflections on process

Friday morning I heard Robyn Whittaker, an Australian member of my own denomination who is a doctoral candidate from U Chicago and the daughter of a colleague of mine, present Worship that enacts diving justice: reconsidering the role of worship in the Apocalypse of John. An interesting paper, but so far out of my area of expertise that all I can say is she presented it well.

I then moved to the “Whence and Whither? Methodology and the Future of Biblical Studies Unit” which was running on the theme “Context Matters in Reading the Bible in Aorearoa New Zealand”. Judith McKinlay from the University of Otago gave a brilliant presentation on Living with Clashing Texts. The abstract does not do it justice and unfortunately doesn’t give me the references to the Biblical texts used so that I can give a coherent account of the content, but she presented as a conversation with the characters in the text and talked about the Israelite conquering of Canaan and the removal of land and compared it with the European invasion of and settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We then saw some contemporary artwork by an Aotearoa New Zealand (A/NZ) artist that presents the crucifixion using abstract images and words. An interesting change of pace.

After the break, Beverley Moana Hall-Smith, a Maori-Pakeha from the University of Auckland presented the story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 from the perspective of a woman who did not fit well into either of the dominant A/NZ cultures – presenting me with even more to think about from one of my favourite texts. This was followed by Anne Taylor from Monash Uni presenting Election-Year Reflections on the politics of Biblical Texts -she’s a Kiwi and was talking about the A/NZ elections due this year.

Then it was time to attend a lunchtime meeting of the WSRT journal editorial collective (I am helping with the website) and then collect my luggage (including getting my daughter’s camera retrieved from the safe in my erstwhile room) and head for the station and my brother’s place.

On the whole, I found the conference worthwhile and enjoyable, but really missed the formal opportunity afforded by meals provided by the conference organisers to be able to sit down and meet people. I suspect that someone who didn’t know anyone much before they came and wasn’t fairly gregarious could go away not knowing anyone much more. This would be especially true of younger grad students who have a tendency to be overawed by “names”.

One of the real frustrations of the conference was the tendency for program chairs to move papers around when presenters failed to show. People would arrive to hear someone only to find that they’d already presented because someone else hadn’t arrived. This was especially annoying for those who had sat through something they weren’t really interested in rather than leave a session early and then had missed one they really wanted to hear. It would have been good to have had a list in several prominent places each day indicating who hadn’t arrived and what measures had been taken to overcome this. However, I’m not sure how it was ascertained who was there because I was sent my name tag in the mail and didn’t have to actually register, just pick up my (rather nice) satchel.

On the whole though, it was well organised and good fun. I met lots of nice people and learned some interesting things and am very glad that I came.

Update 13/07/08 – I’ve added a couple of commas and changed ANZ to A/NZ to stop Steph and other Kiwis from thinking about a bank.

Two links copied from previous posts:

  • The SBL on-line program at which you can find abstracts of any of the papers I’ve mentioned.  Put the name of the person in the appropriate box and then click on the link.
  • I have put some more photos up on Photobucket but the order is a bit random, and be warned that I do scenery rather than people and did not think to take any photos of Uni of Auckland.  Sorry Jim.
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4 thoughts on “SBL Auckland Friday and some reflections on process

  1. What do you mean by a ‘Maori Pakeha’? It’s an oxymoron isn’t it? And the other thing that surprised me was ANZ – did they call us that at the conference? I sometimes refer to Aotearoa and sometimes I call us New Zealand but not both at the same time. ANZ is a bank and the A is Australia. I prefer Aotearoa, as is is the land of the long white cloud … how it was first seen. I’m kind of regretting not having the courage to go up there now. Thanks for your perspective on the conference.

  2. Sorry. It was late and I was feeling lazy.

    I mean that her mother is Pakeha (English, actually) and her father is/was Maori and when she went to the Pakeha school, she was called Maori and didn’t fit in and when she went to the Maori school, she was called Pakeha and didn’t fit in. (At which point, I should note for other readers that Pakeha is the Maori term for New Zealander of European descent, or non-Maori New Zealander of any ethnic background, depending on who you talk to). She actually referred to herself as “half caste”, saying that she knew it was not a politically correct term, but she didn’t know how else to describe herself. I was definitely not going to use that term without extended explanation and she was quite clear that she felt that she didn’t fit – and solved the problem by moving to Australia.

    And yes, many of the Kiwis referred to their country as Aotearoa New Zealand. Most New Zealanders that I’ve met over the past decade or so have used this term consistently when referring to the country in any official way and I got really, really sick of typing it. Should have noted that it was my shorthand, not an official one.

  3. What a shame – and then “solving” it by leaving the country! How many full blooded Maori are there! I’m not aware of any. Most New Zealanders with an ounce of Maori blood are proud to be and are accepted as Maori both officially and socially, including some of my nephews and nieces. Our high profile Maori aren’t full blooded (dunno if Tama Iti would agree).

    I see Aoteaora New Zealand written, where Aotearoa is the traditional name and New Zealand is written underneath as the explanation – but never in conversation. It sounds a bit bourgois. It is either or. With our renewed pride in Te Reo alot of us I think would like to change our name from New Zealand to Aotearoa.

  4. Ha ha – it wasn’t just thinking about the bank – it was connecting the A with Australia … as if we are part of Australia!:-)

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