Methodologies workshop series

Across VU, in different Colleges, many staff and postgraduate researchers are investigating issues that broadly relate to the themes of community, identity and displacement and a concern with social justice. These researchers use a broad range of methodological approaches. But while there are often conversations between researchers who take similar approaches, these conversations occur less frequently across methodological boundaries. The purpose of this workshop series is to create a forum for researchers investigating these themes to have a conversation about the methodological approaches they and others are taking, and to consider issues of epistemology, ethics and utility.

The workshop series is open to all staff and postgraduate students of the university. To start the series there will be a monthly discussion led by one (or more) person using a reading to discuss the approaches they have been using and issues around this. We hope it will move to focus on questions raised by the group, and perhaps issues that cross the boundaries of our methodological frameworks. The workshop will be held once a month

The first workshops are below, and we will anticipate there will be a discussion of the topics after these. You do not need to RSVP for individual workshops, but let us know if you are interested in the series and we will send you readings throughout the year.


Sound Portraits
Dr Alison Baker
Tuesday 24th May, 3.30-4.30pm.
Room D309

Participatory Arts-Based Research – Dr Caitlin Nunn
Tuesday 21 June, 3.30-4.30pm.
Room D309

Social Network Analysis – Dr Charles Mphande
Tuesday 26 July, 3.30-4.30pm.
Room G417

Historical Sociology & Archival Research – Professor David McCallum
Tuesday 23 August, 3.30-4.30pm.
Room G417

Feminist Approaches – Dr Lutfiyte Ali & A/Professor Julie Stephens
Tuesday 20 September, 3.30-4.30pm.
Room D309

Seminars  2015

Dealing with disadvantage: From confusion about disciplining and ethnicization to clarity about what is to be done


Professor Bowen Paulle, University of Amsterdam

Wednesday 2 December at 6.00pm-7.00pm, (followed by light refreshments)

Theatre 1101, 11th Floor, Victoria University City Flinders Campus, 300 Flinders Street

Abstract: Gaps in life chances between the privileged and the disadvantaged are widening in many post-industrialized settings. Educational systems around the world are reinforcing broader socio-economic inequalities rather than mitigating them. As developments in the U.S. over the past 40 years demonstrate, allowing inequalities to spiral out of control leads to massive suffering—especially among the putatively undisciplined communities left behind—and polarization. As the rise of social nationalist (and openly xenophobic) parties across Europe indicates, ethno-political entrepreneurs can easily channel class-based resentment into dangerous voting blocks. Against this backdrop, Paulle argues that a great deal of conceptual confusion hinders discussions related to disciplining and ethnicisation. Informed by continuing research on high poverty, emotionally toxic (educational) environments and genuinely innovative efforts to protect those most immediately at risk of chronic exposure to them, Paulle argues that building on two major sociologists’ work can help us achieve greater clarity and outcomes from which all of us stand to gain.

Bio: Bowen Paulle teaches at the University of Amsterdam, and is presently principal investigator of a five-year, mixed method evaluation project funded by a Rotterdam-based philanthropic foundation Stichting De Verre Bergen. Initiated and largely managed at the grassroots level by a voluntary organization, the primary aim is to achieve measurable increases in the cognitive and socio-emotional development of roughly 1000 students attending four different primary school students in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Rotterdam. A secondary aim is to facilitate social cohesion and collective efficacy among residents living in, and organizations operating in, this challenged neighborhood.

RSVP to:


‘I can’t place you’ exhibition

Dr Alison Baker, Victoria University

Dr Todd Anderson Kunard, Swinburne University

 7-11 December 2015

Launch Wednesday 9th December at 6.00pm-8.00pm, (light refreshments provided)

Metro West Victoria University 138 Nicholson Street, Footscray

Abstract:  I Can’t Place You’ is a sound installation that traces the stories of South African migrants who came to Australia post-apartheid. The voices and soundscapes serve as an invitation to deep and radical listening. This exhibition features a cross-section of individual sound portraits of South African migrants, weaving together a collective narrative of displacement. This installation brings to life the voices of participants, allowing the listener to experience vocal tone, emotional complexity and the sounds of home and host lands. This information is often lost in text-based research publications. ‘I Can’t Place You’ is a call to engage with individual memories, but remain attuned to the broader sociopolitical context. Using a ten-channel sound installation, this sounded experience conveys the sense of dislocation experienced by migrants.



Casting the net too wide? Debates about revoking citizenship, the secrecy in current asylum seeker policy, border force and the rule of law.

Rob Stary and Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Wednesday 29th  July, 3.30-5.00pm

Venue: Room D747, Footscray Park Campus

This seminar will raise questions about the cultural and political consequences of proposed changes to citizenship, the secrecy surrounding asylum seeker policy, the execution of terrorism laws and the role of transparent government. It will discuss the status of the rule of law, democracy and the rights of children. In keeping with the themes of community, identity and displacement, the CIDRN research network in the College of Arts invites you come along and join in this important discussion.

About the Speakers: Rob Stary is a criminal defence lawyer and Adjunct Professor in the College of Law and Justice. He is known for his defence of civil liberties and commitment to due legal process. Since the intensification of terrorism laws in the 2000s, he has been a critic of the Australian legislation and has been involved in some of the most high-profile criminal litigation in Victoria.

Mohhamad Ali Baqiri is a Law/Business student at VU and a former asylum seeker who was in detention as a child on Nauru. He is an advocate for human rights for refugees and asylum seekers. He campaigns tirelessly around the issue of children in detention and is a youth ambassador for the not-for-profit community organisation ChilOut (Children Out of Immigration Detention Centres).


Narrating an extravagant nation, warranting a reasonable self: A case study on the cultural Othering of contemporary crisis-ridden Greece in global media.

Dr Nikos Bozatzis

University of Ioannina, Greece

Wednesday 15th April, 3-4.30pm

Venue: Room G470, Footscray Park Campus


In contemporary critical political theory (e.g. Hall & O’Shea 2013; Harvey 2005), it is commonly asserted that one of the ways in which neoliberalism affirms its political grip and power is through its transformation into a common-sense ideology. While the genealogical, historical, political and macro-sociological contours of this large-scale transformation are fairly well documented, what often is in want is an analytic focus on the fine details of the cultural texts within which neoliberal assumptions are ‘naturally materialized’ as common sense. In this presentation, I turn to consider one such text: an extended (11,000 words) travelogue narrative on sovereign debt crisis-ridden Greece, authored by an esteemed non-fiction writer and financial journalist Michael Lewis, (first) published in the U.S.-based but global in circulation magazine Vanity Fair, on the 1st of October 2010. My overall argument advanced is that within this text the post-2008, global, systemic capitalist crisis, in its Greek sovereign debt manifestation, comes to be rhetorically transformed into a ‘cultural’ issue, rooted in essentialized attributes of contemporary Greece and Greeks. In order to substantiate analytically my theoretical argument, I draw upon three distinct social psychological and social theoretical resources: i.) on the social psychological concept of banal nationalism (Billig 1995); ii.) on the notion of occidentalism drawn from cultural theory and ethnography (Carrier 1995; Coronil 1996) and its application to social psychological concerns (e.g. Bozatzis 2014); and iii.) on methodological developments within discursive psychology (e.g. Edwards 2006; Edwards & Potter 1992; Potter 2005) and critical discursive social psychology (e.g. Wetherell 1998; 2007; 2008).



Nikos Bozatzis (Ptychion Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, M.Sc. & Ph.D. Lancaster University) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Education and Psychology, University of Ioannina, Greece. Nikos is a social psychologist of a discourse-analytic persuasion. Since the formative days of his doctorate training at Lancaster University, his research has focused on ways in which notions of (national) culture come to be mobilized within lay, media and political texts and talk. In recent years, he has been a visiting researcher with the Psychology Department of Georgetown University and an Olympia Fellow in Comparative Cultural Studies, Centre for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University. Nikos is currently based in Melbourne, on a sabbatical leave from his home University, undertaking field research on newcomer Greek immigrants’ narratives of mobility and settlement (in affiliation with the School of Psychology of the University of Adelaide and the Victoria Institute, Victoria University).

The Challenges of Urban Renewal: The roles of community development


Wednesday 29th April, 5.30pm

Venue: MetroWest – 138 Nicholson St Footscray

Footscray is experiencing rapid urban transformation today; with this, the diverse suburb is rapidly being re-made. In this workshop, co-sponsored by the Community Development Association of Victoria University and the Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network, we will have a conversation around questions that this transformation raises: How are community dynamics being affected by the economic and demographic transformations? How are these processes of transformation being experienced? What are some of the challenges, but also the possibilities of these changes for local communities and groups? And importantly, what can community development theory and practice bring to understanding and negotiating these challenges. There will be a panel of presenters followed by plenty of time for discussion.


Panel Discussion:

•Denis Nelthorpe – Director, Footscray Community Legal Service

•Marcia Ferguson – Director, BigWest

•Jose Ramos – Chair, Footscray Maker Lab

•Jessie Lopez – Bareport

•Chris McConville – Federation University


Download the flye for this event: Urban Renewal 29 April 2015


Spectres of colonialism: Citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean


Jointly hosted by CIDRN and The Black Caucus

Dr. Aaron Kamugisha

University of the West Indies, Barbados

Wednesday 6th May, 5-6pm,

Venue: City Flinders, Room FS 1105

Any attempt to account for the banality of significant features of life in the Anglophone Caribbean postcolony and to understand the despair of those who reflect seriously on the contemporary moment requires interventions at several different levels. This paper proceeds on that basis, and attempts a philosophical critique of many aspects of life in the Caribbean, the common theme to all being the persistent denial of full citizenship to many persons within the nation-state. I use the term the “coloniality of citizenship” to describe this complex amalgam of elite domination, neoliberalism and the legacy of colonial authoritarianism which I suggest lies at the heart of the colonial state. This work situates itself within a long tradition of critique of the Caribbean post-colonial state, and aims to continue the long process of uncovering what Kamau Brathwaite has called the “inner plantation,” or rather, coloniality’s persistence in the contemporary Caribbean.


Aaron Kamugisha is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. His current work is a study of coloniality, cultural citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean, mediated through the social and political thought of C.L.R. James and Sylvia Wynter. He is the editor of Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms, Caribbean Political Thought: Theories of the Post-Colonial State and Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora.

Postgraduate Critical Methodologies Workshop:

‘Critical discursive social psychology: Bringing together micro- and macro- analytic orientations in discourse analytic work’

Thursday May 14 & 21, 10-12.30 pm

Venue: P 134; Footscray Park campus


Places are limited. To RSVP, please email:


The turn to discourse in social psychology, since its inception more than 25 years ago (cf. Augoustinos, 2012), has been encompassing a productive tension: micro– and macro– modalities of analytic orientation have been developed and deployed, producing alternative, non-reductionist takes in empirical social psychological work. While in recent years these two modalities, more often than not, have been developing in parallel but separately, this has not always been the case. In this workshop I draw on the eclectic methodological framework discussed by Wetherell (1998; see, also, Edley, 2001), which suggests a theoretical and empirical merging of micro– and macro– perspectives as most appropriate for a discourse analytic social psychology. In this workshop, using textual examples, I will introduce and clarify basic key notions within the discursive turn in social psychology (e.g. action orientation and reflexivity of language in its use), and then drawing on Margaret Wetherell’s and Nigel Edley work, I will proceed to demonstrate the contours of critical discursive social psychology, by discussing the key concepts: rhetorical / ideological dilemmas, interpretative repertoires and subject positions / positioning.



Workshop Presenter:

Nikos Bozatzis (Ptychion Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, M.Sc. & Ph.D. Lancaster University) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Education and Psychology, University of Ioannina, Greece. Nikos is a social psychologist of a discourse-analytic persuasion. Since the formative days of his doctorate training at Lancaster University, his research has focused on ways in which notions of (national) culture come to be mobilized within lay, media and political texts and talk. In recent years, he has been a visiting researcher with the Psychology Department of Georgetown University and an Olympia Fellow in Comparative Cultural Studies, Centre for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University. Nikos is currently based in Melbourne, on a sabbatical leave from his home University, undertaking field research on newcomer Greek immigrants’ narratives of mobility and settlement (in affiliation with the School of Psychology of the University of Adelaide and the Victoria Institute, Victoria University).

Youth Empowerment Solutions: Theory, Research & Practice

Prof. Marc Zimmerman

University of Michigan, USA

Tuesday 31st March, 3-4.30 pm

Venue: Room G467, Footscray Park Campus


The theoretical and empirical foundations for the development of an intervention designed to engage youth in developing solutions to youth violence will be presented.  Theoretical frameworks of both resilience and empowerment will be presented and applied. A description of how results from a longitudinal study of adolescents were used to guide the creation of the Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) program will be presented.  YES is an after-school curriculum designed to help middle school aged youth think critically about their neighborhood and work with adults to make positive change in their community.  Evaluation results from the first phase of the development of YES are presented.  Current program activities and dissemination across the U.S. will be discussed.

Marc Zimmerman is a Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education with appointments also in the Department of Psychology and the Combined Program in Education and Psychology. He received his M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Oregon and his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana. He is Director of  both the Prevention Research Center of Michigan, and the Youth Violence Prevention Center. He is editor of Youth & Society. His research has focused on adolescent health and resiliency, empowerment, and community-based intervention and evaluation.

The displacement and replacement of art in social thought: arguments for total artification.

Dr Mark Stevenson

College of Arts, Victoria University

Wednesday 11 March, 3-4.30pm

Venue: Room G467, Footscray Park Campus


Selected sociologist of art have in recent years begun increasingly to speak of art as a position from which to reframe sociology and questions of social alternatives (Nathalie Heinich, John Clammer). A similar perspective might be seen to also originate from artists whose practices involve them in social and community development. When and why did it become an insult in the social sciences to speak of “aestheticization”? Is the displacement of art in the sociological and development imaginaries symptomatic of sociology’s involvement in other forms of displacement or relegation? Is art, for example, a rival to materialist critique?


There are other underlying problems. If art, pace Nelson Goodman’s “When is Art?” (1997), is a “category that must be defined by reference to context and usage” (Shapiro & Heinich 2012), what does its historically constructed status (identity?) mean for the kinds of work art can do as a foundation for civilizational turnaround, as these recent currents of thought suggest it might be? My presentation aims to review recent developments and writing that raise these and other questions of the replacement of art in social thought and development.

Download abstract here: Markstevenson1

The 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election: how it happened, and what it means for Sri Lanka

Prof. Siri Hettige

Faculty of Sociology, Colombo University, Sri Lanka

 5.15 pm, Friday 27 February 2015

Victoria University (Melbourne), City Flinders Campus, Room 11.01

Change can happen quickly in Asian politics, but it can also be bloody and undemocratic. How then to explain the peaceful and democratic ousting of a South Asian war-time president, Mahinda Rajapakse, in free and fair elections in Sri Lanka? President Rajapakse had been in power since 2005 and was part of a powerful family controlling Parliament and the defence forces. He called an early election to run for a third term in office on the strength of his famous military victory over the Tamil Tigers back in 2009. The sudden defection of a previously little known challenger from his own cabinet ranks, Mr Maithripala Sirisena, saw the formation of a broad coalition of ethnic parties joining the main opposition party and storming to a victory that was unbelievable just two months ago.



Siri Hettige holds the position of Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Within the Faulty of Arts, he has held the role of Dean (1992 to 2002); as well as Director of the Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre (2005- 2009). He is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University as well as an Adjunct Research Associate, CEPUR, at Monash University. In addition to his academic recommendations, Professor Hettige is a weekly columnist with the English language Daily Mirror, and the author of twenty books including his forthcoming publication Towards a Sane Society, a collection of essays to be published in Sinhala, English and Tamil. The Melbourne launch of this publication is expected in March 2015.


Jointly presented by CIDRN and the Melbourne South Asian Studies Group

More information:

Download flyer Melbourne South Asian Studies Group

On the resposibility to engage: Non-Indigenous peoples in two settler states


 5 December 2014, 12.15-1.45

Victoria University, City Flinders Campus, Room 11.01


Dr  Ravi de Costa, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Dr Tom Clark, College of Arts, Victoria University

with discussant, Dr Cynthia MacKenzie, College of Arts, Victoria University

Abstract: Many non-Indigenous peoples in settler societies understand themselves as concerned with the legacies of colonialism. They often express a wish to become more “engaged” with that history and with Indigenous peoples. Paradoxically, however, many do not understand how they could do that or whether, indeed, it is their place to do so. In this research, we survey findings from three sets of focus groups with non-Indigenous peoples in Canada conducted over a three-year period and intersecting with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process that has nearly concluded there. The goal was to see what “emergent” discourses of reconciliation lay in the quotidian lives of non-Indigenous Canadians.

Some strong but complex themes emerged from this research, in particular a mode of “delegation” and another of “embodiment”. These are expressed in different rhetorical styles and speak to variations in the geography, history and identity of the participants and their communities. A broad but tentative conclusion is that for reconciliation, the politics of the local matter. We explore this finding with one eye toward policy innovations and toward similar Australian research now well underway.

Does Community Development work?: An appreciative and critical inquiry into the practice of community development.


Dr Peter Westoby

The University of Queensland and University of the Free State, South Africa

7 October 3-5pm, Room C209, Footscray Park campus


ABSTRACT: In 1994 Peter Westoby arrived in South Africa as a young 27 year old community worker. Captivated by those transition years to post-apartheid South Africa, Peter has spent the past 20 years on a back and forth journey working on numerous development initiatives there, as well as working in the Pacific, Asia and Australia.

The seminar is based on his new book Theorising the Practice of Community Development – a South African perspective (Ashgate, 2014) and it provides glimpses into Peter’s appreciative and critical inquiry into community development generally, but particularly within South Africa, examining traditions and frameworks informing CD theory and practice, along with NGO practices and state-employed worker dilemmas. Several questions are considered, such as:

  • How are the poor organising themselves using various forms of community development, as well as how are state and non-state actors attempting to organise, engage or accompany the poor through community development?
  • In what ways is community development, as a methodology of social change, shifting apartheid patterns of race, class, gender and geographical marginalisation?
  • Why is community development so popular in this historical moment within South Africa? Why is community development experiencing a revival of institutionalisation – through the formation of official programs, a profession, university degrees and so forth?

BIO: Dr. Peter Westoby is a Senior Lecturer in Community Development, School of Social Sciences, at The University of Queensland; and a Research Associate at the Centre for Development Support, University of Free State, South Africa.

You can download the flyer here: CIDRN seminar Peter Westoby


Childlessness and Identity


Dr Anna Branford, College of Arts, Victoria University

Tuesday October 14, 3.30pm

Room D309, Footscray Park campus


This seminar will offer some discussion of the identity of the childless woman in the contemporary West, examining the role by drawing on the recent proliferation of reports of an increasing demographic, popular media representations, self-help literature by and for childless women, and internet discussion forums, blogs and websites. Exploring trends in portrayals and understandings of childless womanhood highlights some significant tensions, but also points to some possibilities within a role that exists, in many remarkable ways, without form.

Does Community Development work?: An appreciative and critical inquiry into the practice of community development.

Dr Peter Westoby

The University of Queensland and University of the Free State, South Africa

7 October 3-5pm, Room C209, Footscray Park campus


ABSTRACT: In 1994 Peter Westoby arrived in South Africa as a young 27 year old community worker. Captivated by those transition years to post-apartheid South Africa, Peter has spent the past 20 years on a back and forth journey working on numerous development initiatives there, as well as working in the Pacific, Asia and Australia.

The seminar is based on his new book Theorising the Practice of Community Development – a South African perspective (Ashgate, 2014) and it provides glimpses into Peter’s appreciative and critical inquiry into community development generally, but particularly within South Africa, examining traditions and frameworks informing CD theory and practice, along with NGO practices and state-employed worker dilemmas. Several questions are considered, such as:

  • How are the poor organising themselves using various forms of community development, as well as how are state and non-state actors attempting to organise, engage or accompany the poor through community development?
  • In what ways is community development, as a methodology of social change, shifting apartheid patterns of race, class, gender and geographical marginalisation?
  • Why is community development so popular in this historical moment within South Africa? Why is community development experiencing a revival of institutionalisation – through the formation of official programs, a profession, university degrees and so forth?

BIO: Dr. Peter Westoby is a Senior Lecturer in Community Development, School of Social Sciences, at The University of Queensland; and a Research Associate at the Centre for Development Support, University of Free State, South Africa.

You can download the flyer here: CIDRN seminar Peter Westoby


Revising Domestic Reproductive Roles and Identities After Migration: The case of professional Filipinas in Melbourne

Dr Cirila Limpangog

Tuesday 19 August, 3-4.30 pm. D Foortscray Park campus


This seminar will discuss the joint connivance of culturally imposed mothering modalities, husbands’ low carework support, and the painfully slow domestic gender role transformation in holding back the career rebuilding of professional immigrant Filipinas in Melbourne. In many respects the assumption of domestic roles previously assigned to maids constituted the most dramatic experiential change in the women’s daily lives, as it involved activities that had not previously impinged on the pursuit of their careers. It is argued that as a result of the women’s persistent strategizing, household work division does eventually become more egalitarian but not without major tensions. The women’s ambitions and career demands were important drivers in renegotiating the domestic realm.


BIO: Cirila is a social development worker, women’s rights activist, and university lecturer. She currently teaches at RMIT’s Global, Urban and Social Studies.


Postgraduate conference

In Search of Community

31 July 2014


In recent times we have witnessed how modernisation and globalisation has, on the one hand, cut down community’s voice, but on the other hand, generated and re-consolidated community’s power.


This is reflected in developments such as indigenous struggles to promote identity and reclaiming natural and cultural resources, popular protests against state policies, resistance of marginal economy groups against capital domination, discourse on community resilience, and other minorities’ struggles against the dominant discourse of power (e.g, promotion of pluralism, gender equality movement, and LGBT appeal). Communities express their power not only in the form of classical methods of social movement, but in adapting those modes and forming new social movement.


These developments indicate that power relations between communities and modern state institutions as well as with globalisation actors are shifting over time. Accordingly, it is very important to revisit the concept of community power.


Therefore, we invite papers addressing questions including: 1) how do (local) communities define and operate or use their power?; 2) how do they negotiate against dominant forces?; and 3) to what extent does the increase of community power shape and reshape relationships between community and dominant forces?




Contesting Tibet: Three fresh perspectives

Mark Stevenson, Julie Fletcher, Gabriel Lafitte

8 JULY 2014, 3.30-5.30 PM
Seminar Room A315, Footscray Park campus


New Urban Landscapes as New Spaces of Contestation along the Sino-Tibetan Interface
Dr Mark Stevenson, Victoria University

Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces (and to an extent Yunnan) constitute a contact zone between the Chinese and Tibetan worlds.  This Sino-Tibetan interface outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has witnessed continuous public protests and public suicides following the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This paper will address the human geography of these continuing events, focusing on the role that emerging urban spaces and lines of vision may play in contemporary Tibetan expressions of frustrated hope and voicelessness.


Dr Mark Stevenson is senior lecturer in Asian Studies, Victoria University. His research with Tibetan communities is predominantly focused on interpreting transformations in contemporary visual culture, particularly in the north-eastern region of Amdo.

Cries of fire: contesting Tibet from the diaspora
Dr Julie Fletcher, Victoria University

Within the Tibetan diaspora, a developing testimonial culture has produced texts and practices increasingly able to mediate between inside and outside Tibet, cross linguistic, geographic and cultural borders, and translate silenced and often hidden Tibetan experiences into transnational public domains.  This development can be viewed in terms of three broad periods, referred to here as first, second and third wave testimonial practice, emerging in response to the changing Tibetan situation, evolving human rights practice, and developments in the technologies of witnessing. This paper will trace this development to consider how human rights discourse and framing has both enabled and constrained the narration of Tibetan experiences, and the ways resistance and protest within Tibet have shaped testimony in the diaspora. Finally, examining recent testimonial responses to the deteriorating situation within Tibet, I consider the ways human rights frames and international address impact upon, and complicate, the testimonial narration of self-immolation.


Dr Julie Fletcher is Lecturer (Foundations) College of Arts, Victoria University. Her PhD, “Witnessing Tibet: life narrative as testimony in the Tibetan diaspora” examined the emergence and development of Tibetan testimony in exile, and her current research interests centre upon the impact of changes since 2008 on testimonial culture and practice within the Tibetan diaspora.

Semester 2, 2013


Reconciliation, democracy and the challenges for Indigenous-settler engagement

Dr Ravi de Costa, York University

with chair Karen Jackson & Dr Tom Clark, discussant

Wednesday July 3, 3.30pm,  room A432, Footscray Park campus

A major difficulty for the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been in engaging the “mainstream”, a task that forms one part of its mandate for reconciliation. Initial interest and media coverage has now subsided and notwithstanding considerable effort, its critical work of reexamining the injustice of Indian Residential Schools is now largely taking place without non-Indigenous Canada “witnessing” its efforts. Could this have been different? And if so, how? These questions shape an essential policy task for reconciliation and the TRC in particular: how to create social and cultural conditions that would prevent such injustice from happening again. In three parts, this paper takes up this discussion, first considering recent debates about deliberative and agonistic democracy and the public sphere, in light of the structure of the TRC as a primarily discursive institution. It then considers the work of the TRC since its relaunch in 2009. Finally, it draws on an ongoing series of focus groups with non-Indigenous peoples that explore how identity and belonging affect attitudes to colonial injustice and willingness to engage with Indigenous peoples in respectful ways.

Feminist Activist Theatre

Dr Karina Smith, Victoria University & Nilmini Fernando, University College of Cork

Tuesday July 30, 3.30 VU Footscray Park, G368

In this workshop Karina and Nilmini will analyse two different cases of feminist activist theatre. Karina Smith analyses Sistren Theatre Collective and feminist theatre activism in Kingston, Jamaica. and  Nilmini Fernando discusses participatory drama techniques and focuses on Ireland.


Abstract:  “On Our Way” Nilmini Fernando

African/migrant women displaced in contemporary western societies breach a multiplicity of intersecting geopolitical, ideological and socio-cultural borders on their journeys. Current political and media discourses of first world nation states typically racialise and represent asylum seekers/migrants as illegal “Others” who abuse national resources. Such discourses entrap third world/black asylum-seeking women in intersectional locations of “exception”, from which they “cannot speak” (Spivak, 1988, Agamben, 1998). Spaces for self-representation are scarce; though their “stories” “faces” and “voices” are hypervisible, their forced identity locations subject them to re-colonizingpractices that silence and exclude them in “everyday” social, cultural and political spaces.

The presentation features one enactment of feminist participatory research within an artist/academic/activist model using drama as a “de-colonising” research space that can facilitate self-representation and “embodied” activism- or “theory in action”. In this model, “data” is co-created in a dialogical research encounter. The presentation will include a short film of the research work done in Ireland.Participatory drama techniques (Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed) will be demonstrated to explore how  transformative spaces and conditions for ethical research/activism might be created in the tight, exclusionary constraints of these neo-liberal times.



Abstract: “Sistren Theatre Collective and feminist theatre activism in Kingston, Jamaica” Karina Smith

Sistren Theatre Collective has been producing theatre and working with community groups in Jamaica for the last thirty-five years. Over the last decade the company has changed its profile from a women’s only theatre collective to a non-government organization which includes male drama specialists and social workers in its team. This has come about due to a funding arrangement with the Jamaican Ministry of National Security, which won a large grant from the Inter-American Development Bank to establish the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) in Kingston’s downtown communities. This paper will compare Sistren’s theatre and outreach work under the CSJP with its previous productions and workshops, devised when it was the leading women’s popular theatre company in the Caribbean region.



 Rehearsing for Social Change

Joanna Kulpińska (Victoria University) and Tania Canas (Victoria College of the Arts)

 Tuesday August 6, 3.30 Footscray Park, L005b

Abstract: The research will look at a model of inclusive community cultural development facilitation through Forum Theatre workshops outside of the traditional artist-community dynamics. It explores how the practice may be approached by interdisciplinary backgrounds, in this case community development students and thus future community leaders and practitioners. In so doing, it explores meaningful community partnerships between organisations and higher education institutes.

The paper follows the development, implementation and evaluation of Forum Theatre workshops run by RISE’s theatre collective, ReDefiant, with graduate and post-graduate students at Victoria University. The primary aim of the Forum Theatre for Social Change Workshops was to support the acquisition of practical tools to implement in students practice and learn about one of the most successful community cultural development techniques used throughout the world. The workshops were specially framed as a skills development that extended the principles of community development to how culture can express and address the human condition, moreover how the arts can actively intervene with oppression.

The research brings to light the theories of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and key community development frameworks. It is a unique approach in that it does not undertake this analysis from the traditional participant-facilitator, artist-facilitator model, but rather an integrative practice

Book Launch – Prof Jim Ife & Mary Lane

Launched by Race Matthews

August 13, 5.30-7.30, City Flinders Street campus, Level 17

We are very pleased to be able to host the Melbourne launch of two new and significant community development books from Jim Ife and Mary Lane.

Jim Ife: Community Development in an Uncertain World: Visions, analysis and practices

Mary Lane: People, Power and Participation: Living Community Development.


Re-imagining Environmental Governance: Beyond the Impasse

CIDRN Workshop, funded through the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia



 ASSA Workshop Program

This workshop will be held in October 2013 at Victoria University’s Flinders City Campus. It aims to generate new interdisciplinary  methods for environmental decision-making. The critical themes to be explored are:

•  What is the impact on policy of current thinking in which nature is separated from culture?

• What alternative models are there for public engagement, especially in responding to the crisis of global warming?

•  How can transdisciplinary perspectives open the way for an environmental governance capable of responding to this emerging crisis?


The workshop will begin from starting points in current case studies, drawn from social movements such as the Lock the Gate Alliance and local regions, for example the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne. The workshop will also look at questions surrounding desalination and water supply. A range of participants have now been invited to the workshop, from both public and private agencies, early career researchers and established figures in diverse fields related to the environment. Proceedings of the workshop will become part of  CIDRN’s publication program. Updates of the program will be placed on this website.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Emerging Socio-Political Conflicts in China and Laos.

Tania Miletic and Siew Fang Law

Monday October 7, 3.30pm Footscray Park, G368


The two papers will discuss the challenges of rapid development are affecting aspects of place, displacement and identity across various levels of social and political life in the contexts of China and Laos.


Tania Miletic

China’s extraordinarily rapid rate of social, economic and political change in a globalised world, and the complexity imposed by the challenge of governing a massive population, suggest that conflict management is an increasingly important area of attention within the country. At the same time, the nature of China’s ‘rise’ in the global arena has many international actors speculating on the nature and direction of its emerging role.

The research acknowledges the importance of understanding different perspectives in approaching conflict and change and explores how conflict resolution and peace are understood in China. The discussion will focus on some of the key learning’s that have emerged from both the author’s PhD research project as well as applied work in teaching conflict resolution in a mainland Chinese university setting. The qualitative research was conducted across several years using elicitive methods to examine how a sample of 30 young leaders, who came from diverse universities and parts of the Peoples’ Republic of China, perceive conflict.  The main issues are related to China’s experiences of rapid development and the effects this has had on various aspects of socio-political life. Participants’ analyses of some of these macro-level issues included the deeper challenges that exist for more equal development and distribution of wealth and opportunity, and uses and abuses of positions of power, wealth and authority.


Siew Fang Law

As part of a larger research project on youths and peacebuilding, this presentation is based on a study that sought to understand the youths’ perspectives of peace, violence and conflict in Laos.  Laos is a country that had gone through history of conflicts, colonisation and wars before gaining its independence in 1975.  Processes of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation, some of which are tied with globalisation, are shaping how young people make sense of peace, violence and conflict in their everyday lives. This study engaged ten young people whom the researchers’ identified as peace makers because of their professional roles with World Vision in Laos. Through thematic analysis of interview data, we identified several constructs of ‘peace’ that are connected with their cultural and gender identities, memories of the past and aspirations for the future, connections with the land, and understandings of change.  Stories about ‘desires for a better life’ are often associated with the needs for relocation and migration that linked with various aspects of structural conflict and violence.



Civilising spaces/Spaces of incarceration

David MacCallum

Thursday 17 October, Footscray Park, G368



 Castoriadis in the Antipodes

6th Castoriadis in Dialogue Conference

November 29-30

Victoria University, Footscray park campus


Download the call for papers here


The Castoriadis in the Antipodes network invite submissions for presentations exploring the ways in which Castoriadis’ work speaks to the Community, Identity Displacement Research Network research foci, especially on questions of social inclusion, social justice, transnationalism and xenophobia. Each speaker will have approximately 20 minutes to present, and ten minutes for questions.

Please submit an abstract of 200–300 words to by Monday 2 September 2013


The Role of Identity in the Everyday Politics of Anti-Racism

Dr Caroline Howarth, London School of Economics

Wednesday 11 December, 3.30-4.30 pm. Footscray Park campus room A432


This paper argues that at the heart of anti-racism, collective action and social change is a complex dynamic between social identities and representations of difference that both produces and unsettles ‘race’ (and so racism) as a meaningful and consequential social category. We discuss the ways in which racialising categories, expectations about difference and fears about cultural diversity are incorporated, sustained and sometimes challenged and transformed in the on-going production of identity – and so consider the possibilities for unsettling ‘race’, producing more politicised identities and enabling productive social change. We draw on social representations theory to examine the connections between identity, representation and possibilities for social change, and illustrate this with empirical material from research in community and school contexts. We argue that rather then look for ‘racist’ OR ‘anti-racist’ discourses and practices in the everyday, we seek a more dialectical understanding of the ways in which the some seemingly ‘anti-racist’ strategies may actually sustain ‘race’ and essentalising representations of difference. Hence racist and anti-racist practices do not simply appear as a tidy binary, but are part of a complex, contextually bound dialectic that produces and challenges the production of race, racialised identities and possibilities for social and political change.





Semester One 2013

Wednesday April 10 at 6pm.

Venue: Room Bo1, Victoria University Flinders Lane campus, 301 Flinders Lane (*Please note this campus is directly behind the VU City Flinders Campus)

Race, Memory and the Apartheid Archive: Towards a Transformative Psychosocial Praxis

Associate Professor Garth Stevens, Dept. of Psychology, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

with Dr Dianne Hall, Victoria University, as discussant.

For decades, the global gaze on South African society  focused on it as a symbol of the inevitable excesses of social engineering, racism and violence under the apartheid dispensation; with astonishment at the apparent exceptionalism of the ‘miracle’ transition that occurred to democratic rule and the dismantling of apartheid; and more recently, on the resurgence of newer manifestations of racialisation and violence in post-apartheid South Africa. In this seminar, based on the forthcoming edited volume  Race, Memory and the Apartheid Archive: Towards a Transformative Psychosocial Praxis (Palgrave Macmillan/Wits University Press, forthcoming, 2013), there is a recognition, confrontation and engagement with this complex history of racialised oppression, as well as the future possibilities and impossibilities of transforming South African society through a re-engagement with the apartheid archive. This archive  holds the promise of not only revisiting and augmenting our history through the storied lives of ordinary citizens, but also allows us to understand the continued impact of this past on our present social, subjective and psychological realities. Located within a psychosocial approach that is uniquely suited to the socio-historical and psychical analysis of racism, this research has relied mainly on the memories, stories and narratives of ordinary people, submitted to the Apartheid Archive Project, as its source material for complex analyses that surface the intersections of race, gender and sexuality; whiteness and blackness; decolonization, liberation and transformative psychosocial praxis; and theorizing the manner in which we can extend our thinking on the utility of archives and archival materials in the present. The seminar aims to provoke us to think about racism as grounded as much in affective as in macro-political means, in the functioning of both intrapsychic and material forms, perpetuated as much in private as in institutional domains, and the ways in which these understandings can contribute to social transformation.


Garth Stevens occupies the position of Co-Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies) in the Humanities Faculty, as well as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, School of Human and Community Development, at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). The thrust of his research is in critical and community psychology, with primary foci on race, racism and related social asymmetries; racism and knowledge production; ideology, power and discourse; violence and its prevention; historical/collective trauma and memory (critical psychosocial mnemonics); and masculinity, gender and violence. He has published widely in these areas, both nationally and internationally, including a co-editorship of A ‘race’ against time: Psychology and challenges to deracialisation in South Africa (UNISA Press, 2006), and the co-edited volume, Race, memory and the apartheid archive: Towards a transformative psychosocial praxis (Palgrave Macmillan/Wits University Press, forthcoming 2013).


A printable flyer can be downloaded here.

Tuesday April 23 at 3.30 pm

Venue: Room A 219 Footscray Park campus

A Good Clean Cat Fight: Readings of conflict in female friendship

Dr Natalie Kon-yu, Victoria University

In her novel, The Summer Without Men, Siri Hustvedt’s protagonist, Mia, notes that conflicts between men ‘are all granted a dignity in the culture that no female form of rivalry can match.  A physical fight between girls or women is a catfight’.  Mia points out that ‘there is nothing noble about emerging from such a squabble.  There is no such thing as a good clean catfight’ (2011, p.128).  In this paper, I will examine the kinds of mythologies that exist around female friendship and trace their historical foundations.  Using key examples from contemporary culture, I will point out the way in which Western culture continues to frame narratives about women’s relationships in the heady sentimentalised tones made popular in the Victorian era.  It is my concern that by continuing to trivialise or mythologise women’s relationships, our culture does not tell authentic stories about women’s relationships.


Natalie Kon-yu was awarded her PhD in English and the Creative Arts from Murdoch University, Western Australia and lectures at Victoria University. Her creative and critical work has been published nationally and internationally, and she has won several prizes including a residency at Katharine Susannah Prichard House and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors.  Natalie is co-writing and co-editing Just Between Us an anthology about female friendship, which will be published by Pan Macmillan on May 21st, 2013.


A printable flyer can be downloaded here.

Winter Seminars

Undisciplined Talks x3

Three short conversations introduced and curated by Mark Stevenson.


Thursday afternoons through June
2 pm – 3:30 pm, Room A219, Footscray Park Campus.


“It’s useful from time to time to come together, obliquely, and explore some of the fundamental assumptions of our different fields, particularly now as we form a new College of Arts”


Download the winter seminar program here:  CIDRN Undisciplined talks x3


June 13 Future Art Human (with Andrew Funston and TBA)

This conversation will explore how art and artists, through giving more and taking less, may in some way be key to sustainable human futures and the ongoing nature of our humanness, resisting market levelling and planetary depletion at a time when anyone can be and everyone wants to be an “artist.” I also wonder if this contribution from art is related to other intuitions we have about it, such as its essential role in questioning and thinking humanness, responsibility and hope.


June 20 International Development and the Question of Adulthood (with Charles Mphande and Charlotte Fabiansson)

Values and value ethics appear to play a fundamental role in theories of international (human) development. At the same time the question of cross-cultural conceptions of adulthood and their relationship to definitions of human completion and fulfilment has barely been addressed. This is perhaps because the question of adulthood as a value (cf. “Mündigkeit” in Kant’s definition of the Enlightenment) forcibly returns us to the problem of where values come from, their relationship to social structure, and the possible futility of development goals that are unable to address “structuration”.


June 27 Is Psychology Essentially History? (with David McCallum and Anne Graham)

If “life is not determined by the mind, but the mind by life” (Marx and Engels), what is the relationship between psychology and history? How does psychology today stand with history? Can questions of development and timing ever be absented from human questions? If these questions are to consistently and persuasively shed light on problems of development, meaning and change, then they must incorporate the question of psychology’s methods as much as that of its foundational assumptions.



Thursday 9 May at 3.30pm

Venue: Room  A 432 Footscray Park campus

Biopolitics and the Textures of Globalisation

Prof Gavin Kendall, Queensland University of Technology

In this paper, I explore the tensions around various controversial developments in medical tourism. These sorts of developments are emblematic of the global character of contemporary biomedicine, providing insights into the production and operation of scientific knowledge. I explore this through what I call the ‘textures of globalisation’. These textures give rise to tensions between calls for individual freedom (choice) and global regulation (standardisation).


Gavin Kendall is Professor of Sociology at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. His books include The Sociology of Cosmopolitanism (Palgrave, 2009, with Woodward and Skrbis), State Democracy and Globalisation (Palgrave, 2004, with King), Understanding Culture (Sage, 2001, with Wickham) and Using Foucault’s Methods (Sage, 1999, with Wickham).



A printable flyer can be downloaded here.

Thursday May 23, 3.30 pm,

Venue: Footscray Park campus, room  A 432

Community Development: Past, Present and Future

Prof Jim Ife, Victoria University

The world is now experiencing a series of major crises – economic, environmental, food, water, etc, and the inevitable corresponding political crises – and this at a time when new technology and social media are transforming the ways we relate to each other, and the very idea of ‘community’. At this time the idea of community development, as traditionally understood, is problematic.


There are four historical strands to traditional understandings of community development. One is the social justice tradition, seeing community development as a way of bringing about a fair society, and addressing social problems. Another is the agenda of economic development, especially in the international development field.  A third is the planning tradition, seeing the idea of community itself as intrinsically valuable, and as a necessary correction to the individualisation and fragmentation of modern life. The fourth is the ecological tradition, seeing community as the most sustainable form of living, and as necessary if we are to deal with present and future ecological crises.


These four imply different ontologies, and are not always compatible in contemporary community development. Yet it will be important to incorporate these different traditions in the future trajectory of community development from this time of crisis. Each raises different issues for researchers and practitioners.


A printable flyer can be downloaded here.

Seminars and Events 2012


Place and Displacement Conference, November 2012. Program and abstracts can be found here.




Tuesday August 14: Racialised Bodies Encounter the City: ‘Long Grassers’ and asylum seekers in Darwin

Dr Michele Lobo, Centre for Citizenship & Globalisation, Deakin University

Abstract: The visibility of ‘bodies of colour’ can engender cultural anxieties, social insecurities, and physical discomfort in cities with white majority cultures. Such responses can be attributed to ‘institutional habits’ and histories that privilege whiteness. These habits have effects in the way they mark bodies and regulate which bodies belong and which bodies are ‘out of place’ in public spaces of the city. I situate my paper within a large body of urban research that draws attention to disciplinary habitual practices and racist acts that stress ethnic minorities and aboriginal peoples and police their mobility in the city to keep white spaces intact. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Darwin, I argue, however, that such white spaces can also be interrupted by habits that entangle fleshy bodies, material objects and a more than human world. I draw on Felix Ravaisson’s philosophy that values the ethical significance of habit as a force of ‘unreflective spontaneity’ and develop his insights by drawing on a feminist understanding of the embodied subject as a coming together and emergence of pre-personal and inhuman forces. These theoretical insights are crucial to exploring how bodies open to touching and being touched transform public spaces of the city into haptic spaces of belonging and ethical engagement.


Wednesday September 19: Migration, sexuality and sexual health: a focus on men with refugee backgrounds from the Horn of Africa

Samuel M. Muckoki, La Trobe University

The population of migrants with refugee backgrounds from the Horn of Africa has increased significantly over the last ten years leading to an emergence of a ‘new’ culturally and linguistically diverse population in Australia today. Upon resettlement, these migrants find themselves in new ‘sexual cultures’ that often varies considerably with their own, in which they must negotiate with little assistance. In the process of navigating settlement in the host society, these migrants may modify their sexual practices in ways that could affect their sexual health and sexual well-being and that of their partners. In this seminar I report on findings drawn from the author’s PhD research project that investigated the sexuality and sexual health of men with refugee backgrounds from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Eritrea in Australia. I also attempt to give an explanation as to how the sexual practices of these migrants are affected in the context of migration and resettlement.

November 7: When Heritage Mangement is Undermined by Twenty Years of Ignoring Indigenous Needs”: Integrating the intangible aspects of the archaeological heritage and cultural landscapes of the Altai Mountains (Siberia, Russia) through Participatory Action Research

Gertjan Plets, University of Ghent, Belgium

Gertjan Plets is a doctoral student in Archaeology, University of Ghent. His research focuses on community-based heritage programs in the Altai Mountains, Siberia, Russia. In part this research investigates new methodologies for ‘virtual’ preservation  of rock art and surface monuments using both 3D-modelling and local community volunteers. The most important part of his research emphasises the integration of indigenous needs into a comprehensive heritage framework.


7 November 2012: The Prospects for Peace in West Papua

Septer Manufandu, FOKER and Octo Mote, Yale University

In July 2011, the Papua Peace Network, led by a Catholic priest, Father Neles Tebay, organised the Papua Peace Conference to explore the idea of forging peace for Papua through dialogue with the Government of Indonesia. During this conference, five representatives were appointed as negotiators with the Indonesian government. Octo Mote, one of the speakers at this forum, is a negotiator.

President Yudhoyono has publicly agreed to hold a dialogue with Papuans and has held two separate meetings with the Papuan Church leaders, Septer Manufandu and Octo Mote will discuss current developments in West Papua and the prospects for a peaceful resolution through dialogue.

 Speakers: Septer Manufandu is a leader of FOKER, the umbrella agency for 64 NGOs working for cultural and human rights in West Papua. He has been involved in campaigns to protect indigenous land rights and to combat illegal logging. Octo Mote is a former journalist at Kompas, the largest Indonesian daily. Following the meeting between Papuan leaders, Tim 100, and President B.J. Habibie in 1999, he left Papua for exile in the US due to death threats by the Indonesian security services. SInce then he has lobbied the US Congress and government on human rights in Papua and Indonesia more broadly. He is currently the Tom and Andy Berstein Senior Human Rights Fellow at the Yale University Law School.


Wednesday November 21:  Different Sides of the Fence – I’ll be blowed if I know where I am

 Professor Mick Dodson, AM

The collective colonial experience of too many Aboriginal people has been one of systematic separation from the lands and territories they traditionally owned and occupied. They were excluded from those lands by various means and as a consequence of that exclusion many have not only lost control of those locations and how they were designed to function for them but they also lost their living spaces. It was not just a physical parting it also severed profound religious and spiritual connections reaching well back to the earliest organised societies. Colonialism and its devastating laws and policies shook the foundations of Aboriginal sense of place. But the roots were not fully disinterred and the connections to place persist. In the face of dislocation and displacement Aboriginal attachment to country lives on and underpins Aboriginal identity and survival. This paper examines why.

 Professor Mick Dodson is a member of the Yawuru peoples the traditional Aboriginal owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is currently Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University. He is a Professor of law at the ANU College of Law. Mick was Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He is a member and the current Chairman of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. He is a former Co-chair of Reconciliation Australia. In 2009 he was named ‘Australian of the Year’ by the National Australia Day Council. He has just completed a 6 month appointment as Gough Whitlam & Malcolm Fraser Harvard Chair in Australian Studies at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.


Media report from this public lecture: DodsonKooriMail

November 7: West Papua: Freedom in Entangled Worlds

Dr Eben Kirksey

Dr Eben Kirksey will speak on his recently published book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Global Architecture of Power,Duke University Press

Eben Kirksey is a cultural anthropologist, who is Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, City University of New York, CUNY Graduate Center. His doctorate is from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He will shortly take up a lectureship in Environmental Studies in the School of Humanities at UNSW.

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua in 1998 as an exchange student. His study of West Papua’s resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Combining parables, historical accounts, and compelling narratives of his own experiences, he argues that seeking freedom in entangled worlds requires negotiating complex interdependencies.


Tuesday 15 May: The Northern Territory Intervention: liberal forms of governing Australian Indigenous peoples

A/Professor David McCallum

This paper considers three different historical events from the point of view of their connections to aspects of the history of liberal political reason:  the actions of the British in New South Wales in the early 19th century in their claim to sovereignty over Indigenous lands; the establishment of Aboriginal missions and subsequent removal of Aboriginal children in the early 20th century; and the Northern Territory Emergency Response and suspension of the Australian Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act (1975) early in the 21st century. The aim is to point to gaps between present claims about liberalism and ‘actual existing liberalism’, review the basis for examining accounts of governance deploying ‘authoritarian liberalism’ and ‘race war’ as central concepts, and call into question the Northern Territory campaign as an ‘exceptional’ event.

Wednesday 2 May: Western Shara: Africa’s Last Colony

Malak Amidan

Malak Amidan will tell the story of the Western Sahara conflict and the situation of human rights in her homeland. She will share her experiences of life in the occupied areas of Western Sahara where her people have been living in unbearable conditions for 37 years trapped in the territories occupied by Morocco where they suffer human rights abuses.  Western Sahara is known as the last colony in Africa and also known as the East Timor of Africa.

Malak Amidane is a Saharawi human rights activist and trade unionist. She lives in the occupied zones of Western Sahara. As a young Saharawi student she participated in the peaceful demonstrations that took place in the Capital of Western Sahara El Ayoun 2005. Since then she has been active as a human rights defender and tireless advocate for the respect of the Saharawi people rights to live in freedom and dignity and exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. Malak has been working closely with human rights organisations in Europe and elsewhere to inform them of the human rights situation in her homeland. She has been on speaking tours and attended conferences in many European countries.

Thursday March 22: Memory Activism: A Roundtable conversation with Alistair Thomson (History, Monash University). Contributions from A/Prof Julie Stephens (Victoria University), Dr Carla Pascoe (Victoria University) and Dr Chris McConville (Victoria University)

Memory is often connected to activism. There remain a number of questions about how we understand collective accounts of memory and in what sense is such collective memory related to activism? Does memory only become a form of activism once transcribed, collated and published by academic researchers? Is it misleading to identify a disparate range of political movements as ‘memory activism’, when memory is by definition composed around a personalised, intimate rather than public and political set of images?

This forum is intended to open up discussion around Memory and Activism, initially by taking up historical aspects both political and non-political as a basis for discussions.

Keynote speaker: Alistair Thomson is Professor of History at Monash University and was previously Professor of Oral History at the University of Sussex. Alistair’s research and teaching explores the ways in which different kinds of life story evidence can illuminate the past and its meaning in the present lives of individuals and society.

Alistair will talk about the ARC-funded Australian Generations Oral History Project, a collaboration involving the National Library of Australia, ABC Radio National, the Oral History Association of Australia, and colleagues at Monash and La Trobe Universities (see He will explore the opportunities and challenges, approaches and issues in a large national oral history research project.

Seminars and Events 2011


The research network is launched!

The research network was launched by Professor Kevin McDonald on 9 December 2011.


“Sorry, no English”: Everyday practices of acculturation among older Chinese migrants

Dr. Wendy Li, Department of Psychology, James Cook University


Professor Tamara Schefer, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Gender, power, (hetero)sexuality and HIV/AIDS in contemporary South Africa: Research with students on a local university campus


Fabiola Barba Ponce, Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico

Mexican Immigrants in Australia: Exploring Migration Patterns and Social Well Being