In 1998 the authors of this chapter received professional qualifications from the University of Nottingham. Shortly afterwards they took jobs in their respective ‘home’ countries, Canada and New Zealand. This chapter is an attempt to use critical autobiographical method to explore the layers of practices and knowledge that inform and make up their professional identities. Such layers include personal experience, organizational practices, their discipline’s knowledge base and broad political and economic contexts. The term ‘verandah’ is used as a metaphor to discuss the positioning of these identities in colonial histories and to support the form of the chapter itself. The term verandah—from the Hindi word varanda—moved into the English language during the colonial administration of the British raj. It points to historically constructed colonial relations between metropolitan/imperial ‘centre’ and colony/colonized ‘margin’. These relations provide a kind of ‘map’ upon which professional identities are ordered and constructed. The authors use the term cartography to highlight this process of mapping, to discuss the challenges to existing ‘maps’, and the process of ‘re-mapping’ posed by marginalized, aborginal or indigenous knowledges and practices.
The Shorter Oxford Dictionary gives the following meaning for verandah: ‘An open portico or roofed gallery extending along the front (and occasionally other sides) of a dwelling erected chiefly as a protection or shelter from the sun or rain.’ A verandah then is a place where one can go to escape the heat of the sun, or alternatively the heat of the kitchen (MeWilliam 1998:3). This chapter discusses marginalized knowledges and practices. It uses autobiographical material and is written as a dialogue. On both counts the chapter fails to conform to normal academic writing practices. It is, then, a kind of ‘verandah’, as the chapter does not conform with the normal practices of the academic ‘household’. The authors argue that writing from the ‘verandah’—both in terms of colonial histories and academic practices—provides opportunities for the discussion of professional identities. The authors hope this will prove provocative to readers and allow them to reflect on their own work identities in new and dynamic ways: away from the heat of the hearth/kitchen (of disciplining institutional knowledge) or out of the ‘rain