Conference Abstracts

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Brosch, Professor Renate

University of Stuttgart

‘Fictions of Planetary Conviviality – Towards a Cosmopolitan Practice’

Abstract: From the perspective of Europe Australia is the most successful multicultural nation in the world. In academic debates, however, multiculturalism is regarded with scepticism on account of its disregard for difference and ‘absolute otherness’. At the same time, public discourse in Australia resembles that of Europe in its increasing xenophobia and protective identity maintenance. In my paper I will look at European and Australian discourses of the Other, the foreigner and the stranger, arguing that the prominent postcolonial rhetoric of difference and opposites is unproductive. I propose that common ground could be rather forged from philosophies of intersubjectivity that abandon the European tradition of individualism for concepts of embodied and embedded deep relationality. These less individualistic concepts that posit a mutual constitution of self, world and other are not only evident in recent Australian fictions but prefigured in the cultural heritage from some Australian indigenous and migrant cultures. Hence, it seems that multicultural Australia  – with its discourses of communal and environmental connectedness – may indeed be privileged to spearhead a transnational or cosmopolitan imagination.  Such an imagination would result in a practice – of writing and reading – that subordinates national and cultural difference to shared themes.

Biographical note: Renate Brosch is professor of English Literature at the University of Stuttgart. Her major research interests are in cognitive narratology and Australian Literature. She has published on Henry James (Krisen des Sehens: Henry James und die Veränderung der Wahrnehmung im 19. Jahrhundert. Tübingen: Stauffenburg 2000), on Visual Culture, on modernism, Victorian culture, on short story theory (Short Story: Textsorte und Leseerfahrung. Trier: WVT 2007) and on reader response theory (Focus Issue: Anglistik 24:2, 2013). Combining her interest in Visual Culture and Australian Studies, she recently coedited a volume on Australian images and iconographies (Visualising Australia 2014).

Teo, Dr Hsu-Ming

Macquarie University, Sydney

‘The Popular Culture of Romantic Love in Australia Project’

Abstract: A couple of years ago I issued a call for papers for an edited book on the theme of romantic love in Australian popular culture. The aim of the project is to understand how Australians’ beliefs, ideals, and practices of romantic love have changed over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — how we have written and spoken about being in love or falling out of love, and how these issues are related to dating, courtship, and long-term commitments such as cohabitation and marriage. The point of the project is to consider: what kinds of popular cultural practices have facilitated or reflected ideas of romantic love to Australians? The response was overwhelming and as a result, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies will be publishing a special issue on love in Australian culture in August 2014, while an 18-chapter book covering diverse topics such as nineteenth-century courtship and notions of ‘broken hearts’, romance fiction, films, TV mini-series, pop music, country music, representations of love and World War II, sex and romance, and queer love in Australia is currently being compiled and edited. This paper explains the rationale behind the project, discusses why I chose to approach the topic of romantic love in Australia via the framework of popular culture rather than the history of the emotions, and situates the project within the larger international scholarship on romantic love, considering what an Australian perspective might bring to the extant work in the field.

Biographical note: Hsu-Ming Teo is a novelist and cultural historian based in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, where she teaches European and American history. Her academic publications include Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels (2012), Cultural History in Australia (2003), and range of articles and book chapters on the history of Orientalism, travel, British imperialism, fiction, and popular culture. She is an editorial board member of the Journal of Australian Studies, the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, and the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. Her first novel Love and Vertigo (2000) won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and her second novel Behind the Moon (2005) was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. She is currently working on an edited project on the popular culture of romantic love in Australia.


Mackerras, Professor Emeritus Colin

Griffith University

‘Issues in Australia-China under Abbott: A Historical Perspective’

Abstract: The issues in Australia-China relations that affect ordinary people most are the economic and educational ones. However, the politico-strategic ones often influence these, so there are interconnections among the various types of relationships, which may occupy different priorities at different times and for each of the two countries.

The paper will not attempt to discuss all types of relationships, but will try to show interconnections among some of the following.

  1. Trade and investment. China is now Australia’s top trading partner, and the two countries are both enthusiastic about a free-trade agreement, but there are political problems over investment.
  2. Educational exchange at various levels, including students, teachers, and academics going from one country to the other, has never been so extensive, positive and wide-ranging as at present.
  3. Strategic issues, such as the role of third countries in the bilateral relationship, vary with time. Relations with the US are always a major factor. However, other third countries occupy different priorities at different times. At times, Vietnam and the Soviet Union have caused divisions between Australia and China. Currently, Japan is a major and negative factor in Australia-China relations.
  4. Other political and social issues occupy a role, with human rights and Tibet being important from Australia’s point of view since the late 1980s.

The paper concludes that currently Australia-China relations are doing very well indeed in economic and educational terms, but less so in political. Differences over Japan are serious and long lasting and have the potential to undermine the relationship as a whole. China has alternative sources for the main commodities it buys from Australia, the leaders of which should be very careful indeed in how they balance relations with China, the US and Japan. It is not in Australia’s interests to offend China any more than it is in its interests to offend the US or Japan. The oft-repeated principle that Australia doesn’t need to choose has been flouted by the present government through its unnecessarily forthright and deliberate preference for Japan over China. Although this is damaging to Australia-China relations it is not necessarily permanent nor need it undermine the good relations brought about by the volume of trade and educational relationships.

Biographical note: Colin Mackerras FAHA, AO, is professor emeritus at Griffith University, Queensland. He has travelled frequently and extensively in China, teaching there first from 1964 to 1966, as well as on numerous subsequent occasions. He was a foundation professor of Asian studies at Griffith University from 1974 to 2004. He has published extensively on China and Asia, especially its history, theatre and ethnic minorities, as well as on Australia-China relations and Western images of China.


Allen, Associate Professor Pam

University of Tasmania

‘Trouble in the playground: Australia’s vexed relationship with Bali’

Abstract: For many people, the Australia-Indonesia relationship goes no further than the bars and beaches of Kuta in Bali. Many others are unaware that those bars and beaches are even in Indonesia. One thing that is certain is that Bali is a part of the Australian psyche: it is our playground, as we were reminded so frequently after the 2002 bombings.

Is it because we feel some sort of legitimate sovereignty over Bali that we feel so affronted when Australians get into trouble there? ‘Another Australian dies in Bali’ shriek the headlines when a tourist dies from accident or misfortune. The recent Channel 7 documentary ‘What really happens in Bali’ highlighted the dangers of motorbike and surfing accidents, methanol poisoning, drunken fights and sexually transmitted diseases, but the message of the documentary seemed to be that Bali had let Australia down by allowing young tourists to become embroiled in such misadventures.

My paper traces the history of this – sometimes complex, sometimes vexed, always in the news – relationship between Australia and Bali.

Biographical note: Associate Professor Pam Allen is Associate Dean (Learning Teaching / International) in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Tasmania. Her teaching and research area is Indonesian language and studies, and she speaks Indonesian fluently. Her recent research projects include a study of the Javanese diaspora in Suriname and New Caledonia. She publishes in Indonesian as well as English, and is an accredited translator. She also works and publishes in the area of literary translation.


Moreno-Álvarez, Dr Alejandra

University of Oviedo, Spain

‘Questions of Australianness: Michelle de Kretser and Suneeta Peres da Costa’

Due to the ‘curry bashing’ that occurred last in Australia in 2010, one is likely to agree with Kipling in that East is ‘still’ East and West is ‘still’ West. However, Australia was never and is not a monolith, nor an immutable and permanent entity. It is, rather, a discursive construction in which incessant contestation of meanings are taking place. It is a land of the Indigenous population, of colonists, settlers, but also of those of European and Asian descent, plus asylum seekers (mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka), and international students. Given these facts, Australia is multilayered. Therefore, the metanarrative of Australian literature has to be challenged from different perspectives so as to have a literary negotiation of multiplicities.

In the case of the South Asian-Australian population, it is from 1970 onwards, when the adoption of the Multicultural policy took place, that a large number of people of South Asian origin migrated to Australia. Time enough for South Asian-Australian literature to emerge and to have “in a relative short space of time, achieved commercial and critical success” (Athique in Sarwal 2013: 24). South Asian-Australian writers such as Mena Abdullah, Suneeta Peres Da Costa, Chitra Fernando, Yasmine Gooneratne, Adib Khan, Michelle de Kretser, Bem Le Hunte, Chandani Lokugé, or Chrisine Mangala, among others, use literature as an instrument to voice often complex discursive strategies. These authors negotiate their spatial identities within the g/local and continue to construe the past and the present.

Feroza Jussawalla highlights how, in order to survive, minorities in India had to subsume identity into hybridity, ‘authentic Indianness’ (in Fludernik 1989: 200). The unavoidable conviviality in Australia becomes hybridity due to the “palimpsest” of colonialism and migration. This paper will consist of the analysis of Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel (2013) and Suneeta Peres Da Costa’s Homework (1999) and their naming of what is for their characters the authentic Australianness in the contemporary entangled milieu. Both authors’ literary endeavour is far from being palatable exotica for First World readers. They both avoid anglicising and monogenising. These writers raise questions of the need to redefine and review the Australian literary canon and with it the meaning of Australianness.

Biographical note: Alejandra holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from the University of Oviedo, Spain. She has been a research fellow at Rutgers University, Cornell University and the University of Leeds, among others. Currently, she is a Lecturer in the English Department of the University of Oviedo. Her teaching and research is centered in Literatures in English Language, Feminist and Postcolonial Theory. She is author of Lenguajes comestibles: Anorexia, bulimia y su descodificación en la ficción de Margaret Atwood y Fay Weldon (Edicions UIB, 2009); El lenguaje trasgresor de las Ciborgs Literarias (ArCiBel Editores,2011) and Ambai: Un movimiento, una carpeta, algunas lágrimas / A Movement, a Folder, Some Tears (KRK, 2011).


Badami, Dr Sunil

University of Technology, Sydney

‘Dancing on Water: The Revival of Indian Dance in Sydney from Dionysus to St Denis’

After being banned for nearly forty years in India by Western missionaries and Hindu social reformers, with many of its traditions suppressed or forgotten, traditional Indian dance was revived, popularised and legitimised in the 1920s and 1930s by mainly Western enthusiasts – most notably the American Ruth St Denis (1909), the British-Russian Anna Pavlova and Indian Uday Shankar (1923), the Australian Louise Lightfoot (1938), and most notably, the Indian Theosophist Rukmini Devi Arundale (1933). What is most notable about these revivals was not only the role these Western or Western-educated dancers played, raising issues of authenticity and Orientalist appropriation of traditional Indian culture, but the intriguing part Sydney played as a locus for the further serious study of Indian dance forms such as sadr, bharata natyam, kathakali and Manipuri dance, especially at the height of Anglo-Saxon chauvinism and the White Australia Policy.

This paper will chronicle Australian interest in Indian culture and dance; specifically how and why Sydney, on the margins of the British Empire, was such a focal point for this revival; the fateful meeting between Pavlova and Rukmini Devi Arundale which led to this revival and the establishment of India’s first and foremost arts academy, Kalakshetra; as well as other developments in this revival by St Denis, Lightfoot, Eileen Cramer and more. It will refer to research by historians such as Jill Roe, Amit Sarwal, Kama McLean, Jim Masselos, Anindyo Roy and others (including contemporaneous media reports and the author’s own interviews and research), as well as academics and theorists such as Judith Whitehead, Soneji Davesh, Nilanjana Bhattacharya, Anna Morcom and others to examine issues of cosmopolitanism, Orientalism and appropriation refracted through questions of nationalism, post-colonial studies, feminist agency and criticism – particularly in relation to current issues of multiculturalism, authenticity and national identity, as well as making a unique connection to what Ruth Park called in her Companion Guide to Sydney (1973) ‘a poetic irony of fate’: the surprising link between the etymology of Sydney’s name, Greek mythology, Indian culture, Western spiritualism, Australian nationalism and the Dionysian arts.

Biographical note: Sunil Badami is a writer, performer and broadcaster. His work has been published in Australia and overseas, including The Monthly, The New Daily, The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, The Australian, The Australian Literary Review, Southerly, Island, Meanjin, Seizure, Best Australian Stories and Best Australian Essays, as well as anthologies in Britain, India and Japan. He has appeared on-stage at the Sydney and Melbourne Writers’ Festivals and the Belvoir Street and Griffin Theatres. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London, and the University of Technology, Sydney, where his doctoral thesis Novelists of the Past, Historians of the Present examined Australian national identity refracted through the history and culture wars and Australia’s ‘long and ignoble history of literary hoaxing.’ He presents the ABC Local Radio show Sunday Takeaway when he is not re-writing his first novel, an allergy, which is partly set in the interwar Sydney demimonde and South India before and after Independence.


Banerjee, Dr Bidisha

Hong Kong Institute of Education

‘‘Gritty grapplings’ in the Contact Zone: A contrapuntal reading of image and text in Shaun Tan and John Marsden’s The Rabbits’

Shaun Tan’s award winning 1998 picture book The Rabbits attempts to tell the colonial history of Australia via starkly vivid images of the depletion and erosion of the land and natural resources as well as the violence committed by the White settler towards the indigenous people. The images tell a story of rapid industrialisation, death and decimation, of the hunting to extinction of native animals and the deculturation of the native people. Several critics have been quite critical of Tan’s work often reading it as a text that silences and marginalizes the colonized. While I don’t entirely disagree with these critiques of Tan’s picture book, for me the overwhelming message of the book is the destruction of the landscape due to colonialism. Both the colonisers (rabbits) and the original inhabitants (described variously as Numbats, marsupials, original inhabitants, etc.) seem secondary to the machinery and the emblems of industrialisation and modernisation that gradually take over the pages.

In Mary Louise Pratt’s watershed work Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992), she introduced the term “contact zones” which she defined as “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination-like colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today” (4). Donna Haraway’s posthuman take on “contact zones,” articulated a decade later, carries a more transformative overtone. For her, contact zones are still spaces of “gritty grapplings,” but they are also “world-making entanglements” (4). In this presentation I argue that bringing together the postcolonial and the posthuman understandings of “contact zones” in a reading of The Rabbits, allows us to move away from binary and oppositional understandings of Tan’s work, to a more hopeful reading where both parties (coloniser and colonised) are transformed by a shared understanding of the devastating effects of the colonial enterprise. Analyzing the pages of the book as a troubled contact zone where text and image exist in tension with each other, I argue that the binaries mobilised throughout the text collapse in a final moment of commonality and lament between the coloniser and the colonised, suggesting that the greatest casualty of this enterprise has in fact been the land.

Biographical note: Dr. Bidisha Banerjee is Assistant Professor in the Department of Literature and Cultural Studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. She has also taught at St. Lawrence University (New York), Chinese University, and City University (both Hong Kong). Her research interests include postcolonial studies, globality and transnationalism, diaspora and exile, postcolonial feminist fictions and theory and cultural studies and her current book project focuses on the works of immigrant women writers and filmmakers from India.  She has presented her work widely at conferences in Europe, Asia and the US. Some of her has been published in journals like Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Asian Cinema, Cultural Studies ó Critical Methodologies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Text.


Brett, Dr André

University of Melbourne

‘‘Hospitable, Cheerful Friends’:  The Chatham Islands and the Settler World, 1791–1842’

Little has been written about Australia’s connections with the Chatham Islands, a small archipelago 800 kilometres east of New Zealand. It is time that the Chathams are written into Australian history and Australia into the history of the Chathams. Visitors from New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land led the outside world’s contact with the Chathams and its inhabitants, the Moriori people, for the five decades following European discovery of the islands in 1791. My paper examines this contact and its consequences. Australian visitors introduced an economy to which Moriori struggled to adapt; they caused significant environmental changes that altered the Moriori diet; and they facilitated a major demographic shift and the introduction of physical violence to a pacifist society.

Biographical note: Dr André Brett is an early career researcher at the University of Melbourne, where he completed his PhD in 2014. His PhD thesis was on the creation and demise of New Zealand’s provincial system of government, 1853–76. He has wider interests in the history of colonial Australia and New Zealand, in particular the role of public works and transportation in shaping political, economic, and environmental change. In addition, he has taught in genocide studies since 2011, researching and lecturing on the relationship between colonialism and genocide. He is currently a research assistant for two ARC-funded projects at the University of Melbourne and is pursuing his own research into the role of railways in British colonialism, 1830s–1914.


Brewster, Associate Professor Anne

University of New South Wales

‘Violent intimacies: Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap’

Abstract: Christos Tsiolkas’ acclaimed best-selling novel The Slap (2008) explicitly explores the triangulated relationships between ‘Australians’ (the default identity of Anglo-celtic Australians), ethnic minority people and indigenous people against the backdrop of the decline of liberal multiculturalism under the Howard government. In each chapter of the novel a literal or metaphoric slap is delivered, however Tsiolkas himself describes the rebuff delivered by the Aboriginal character, Bilal, to the white woman Rosie, as the paradigmatic slap that he wished in the course of the novel to deliver to the contemporary Australia ‘he was part of’. This paper examines the ramifications of the positioning of this abject scene at the centre of the novel’s figuring of the multiple intersections of race/ethnicity, whiteness, class and gender in the white nation.

Biographical note: Anne Brewster is an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Her books include Literary Formations: Postcoloniality, Nationalism, Globalism (1996) and Aboriginal Women’s Autobiography (1995). She co-edited, with Angeline O’Neill and Rosemary van den Berg, an anthology of Australian Indigenous Writing, Those Who Remain Will Always Remember (2000).


Carey, Dr Michelle

Murdoch University

‘Non-Indigenous Guilt, the Recognition of Indigenous Permanence and Decolonising the Settler-Nation’

Settler-colonial theory posits that the path to decolonisation in settler nations such as Australia necessitates recognition of a permanent, discrete Indigenous presence.  In her book, Beyond White Guilt: the Real Challenge for Black White Relations in Australia (2011), Sarah Maddison argues that non-Indigenous Australians must undertake an ‘adaptive challenge’, whereby they acknowledge their until now unacknowledged collective guilt regarding Indigenous dispossession and ongoing marginalisation, and seek to build more equitable dialogic relations between themselves and Indigenous people.  This, she argues, is essential to eventual decolonisation.

Given Maddison’s acceptance of the settler-colonial paradigm, evident in this and other recent publications, her proposed program for the affirmation of a distinct Indigenous presence – signified by her emphasis on dialogue – in the Australian settler-nation is a totalising, national mea culpa.  This paper argues that the emphasis on non-Indigenous guilt reinforces the binaried relationship between guilt and innocence, and as such does little to advance discourse relating to Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations beyond the current racist/not-racist binary.  Further, contrary to the idea that guilt is a necessary precursor to anti-colonial dialogue, this paper argues that guilt is fundamentally monological and therefore at odds with dialogue as essential to decolonisation.

Biographical note: Dr Michelle Carey is a lecturer in the Australian Indigenous Studies program at Murdoch University.  Her recent research interests include problematising ‘settler colonial theory’ as a means by which contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in settler societies can be better understood.


Clarke, Dr Robert

University of Tasmania 

‘Massacre Sites and the Reparative in Postcolonial Australian Travel Writing’

This paper considers the memory and mourning work that is undertaken in recent Australian travel writing. As Sam Durrant argues, “Postcolonial narrative, structured by a tension between the oppressive memory of the past and the liberatory promise of the future, is necessarily involved in a work of mourning” (1). This paper is concerned with how travellers negotiate personal, communal, and national memories of loss and how the turn to utopian or melancholic rhetoric in the writings of such travellers can often reflect forms of ‘acting out’ or ‘working through.’ At such moments readings can slip into paranoid positions that inhibit the kind of productive public discourse on history and justice that can facilitate change. This paper examines the travel narrative within Kim Scott and Hazel Brown’s Kayang and Me (2005), and reflects on Scott’s journey to Country and his encounter with the massacre site of Cocanurup. Massacre sites are perhaps the most brutal symbol of colonial violence and its aftermath. As they become better recognised and more frequently visited, they pose challenges for the way their stories are interpolated into cultural memory. Scott’s interweaving of personal and cultural reflection with Hazel Brown’s account of the massacre provides an example of the work of the reparative in narrative, in the words of Mirielle Roselle, “a specific set of narrative choices that propose to offer a conscious or unconscious strategy to a double process of recapturing and recovering” (22) and yet refuses closure. The reparative confronts narrator and reader with a double bind: “how is it possible to both, on the one hand, renounce denial, forgetfulness and amnesia and, on the other hand, to give up on the illusion that once we have looked the past in the face, once we have ‘worked through’ it, our present will be free from its traumatic legacy?” (23).

Biographical note: Robert Clarke is a lecturer in English studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. He is editor of Celebrity Colonialism: Fame, Power and Representation in Colonial and Postcolonial Cultures (2009) “Travel and Celebrity Culture” (special issue Postcolonial Studies, 12.2, 2009), and (with Anna Johnston and Jacqueline Dutton) “Shadow Zones: Dark Travel and Postcolonial Cultures” (special issue Postcolonial Studies, 2015). He is currently writing a book, Travel Writing from Black Australia: Utopia, Melancholia and Aboriginality, to be published by Routledge in 2015.


Cleary, Sandra 

‘Immigration Stories of Colonial Days: Mary Counsel and the other Australians who were buried in the Paupers Plots at the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin, New Zealand from 1873 to 1915’

This paper uses the records of the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin, New Zealand to examine the place of paupers within the context of Dunedin history from 1873 to 1915 and to tell the stories of Mary Counsel and her fellow Australians during this period. The first part of this paper will examine the intersections between wealth and extreme poverty during this period using individual cases as examples. Those who attempted to make a difference like Rutherford Waddell and Rachel Reynolds will be discussed as will the institutions involved and the impact they had on the paupers’ lives. Funeral practices and the organisation of pauper funerals will be mentioned alongside funeral reforms for this period.

The second half of the paper will discuss Mary Counsel and her fellow Australians buried in the Paupers Plots at the Northern Cemetery in Dunedin. Mary was fourteen years of age when she died and was buried there in 1880. Her birthplace was in Melbourne. Soon after burial, her body was exhumed and returned to Melbourne. Her story has implications to the current day.  The other Australians who are buried here have a variety of immigration stories. The reasons why they may have come to New Zealand and how they ended their lives buried as paupers in the Northern Cemetery will be discussed. The Australian paupers’ contribution to Dunedin history will be analysed.

The research on the Paupers of the Northern Cemetery is new and original research begun by myself in November 2012.

Biographical note: Sandra Cleary was born into a family of teachers. Her grandmother, Olga Sansom, was a well-known New Zealand historian who made history come alive for her grandchildren. Sandra graduated from the University of Otago with a B.A. Honours in History in 2013. Her Dissertation was on “The Paupers of the Northern Cemetery from 1873 to 1915,” using a mixed methods approach combining social history with genealogy. Sandra discovered the Northern Cemetery’s Paupers Plots in November 2012 which was laid out according to class.

This is new research on pauperism, in colonial Dunedin, which differs from British pauperism.  Sandra is now working on two books on the topic. One will contain biographies of the occupants in these Paupers Plots. The second is a series of pauper case studies in Dunedin’s colonial years and the organizations and individuals who assisted paupers or hindered them.  Immigration facts will be measured with different ethnicities to show the causes of poverty, and the circumstances which eventually bought people to a pauper’s grave. Sandra is a member of the Professional Historians Association of New Zealand Aotearoa and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. Sandra lives in Dunedin, New Zealand and is an independent historian and genealogist.


Dalal, Dr Sanghamitra

University Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

‘On Becoming an Australian: The Journey Of Patricia Pengilley’

In this paper I will focus on the Anglo-Indian-Australian author, Patricia Pengilley (1926-2010) and her autobiographical novel The Tiger and the Kangaroo Went to Sea: On Becoming an Australian (1999). The term ‘Anglo-Indian’ or ‘Eurasian’ refers to India’s mixed race or mixed blood (British-Indian) community who were also contemptuously referred to as ‘half-caste’ in the colonial period. Pengilley’s family, similar to a large number of anxious Anglo-Indian families who immigrated to different white, Anglophone countries in the year of India’s independence, relocated from India to Australia in 1947. Pengilley traces a long time-span of seventy-three years of her life, both in India and in Australia, from 1926 to 1999 in six parts of her autobiography. I will pay particular attention to the problematics of diasporic identity formation in Australia against the transitions in the Australian socio-political scenario in the latter half of the twentieth century. The issues of identity and belonging are more complex in the case of Pengilley who, as a ‘mixed-race’ progeny of British imperialism, was regularly stigmatised as a marginal minority group even in the place of her birth and had “grown up with a sense of not belonging racially or socially anywhere” (Pengilley 212).

In the course of my discussion I will singularly concentrate on Parts Two, Four and Six of her autobiography that significantly bear the same title “To Be an Australian”. My focus will be on the conflicting and evolving experiences of Pengilley in Australia (1947-1999) through the distinct phases of Australia’s immigration policy that transited through assimilation, integration, multiculturalism and social cohesion. I will attempt to examine the intensities and intimacies of these “contact zones” (Pratt 6), where Pengilley struggles with her Eurasian, colonial, English, Indian and Australian selves in order to belong. As her quest for an Australian identity eventually evolves into “a rare and beautiful oriental-occidental osmosis” (Pengilley 176), I will contend that the essence of diasporic identity and belonging are not characterized by homogeneity or separateness, but can be articulated in terms of multiple possibilities and positionalities.

Biographical note: Sanghamitra Dalal graduated from University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India and has written her doctoral dissertation on South Asian Diasporic Fiction in Australia at the Centre for Postcolonial Writing, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She has previously taught in India and Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany and is currently a senior lecturer at University Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. Her research interests include postcolonial and diaspora studies; South Asian, Indian and Australian literature.

Works Cited: Pengilley, Patricia. The Tiger and the Kangaroo Went to Sea: On Becoming an Australian. Blackburn, Vic: PenFolk, 1999. Print; Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 1992. London and New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.


David, Delphine

Université Paris Dauphine

‘Is it all black or white?: Expressions of identity and belonging among young Australians of mixed-heritage’

Since Australia was colonized, Indigenous people have often been relegated to the margins by white Australians. Considered inferior and doomed to extinction for a long time, they were not even recognized as proper citizens before 1967. But in the last three decades, with the policy of Reconciliation, the 2000 Olympic Games or the Mabo decision, the vision of Aboriginality in Australia has evolved. Although old stereotypes about Indigenous people and dichotomies between ‘white’ and ‘black’ Australia remain, it is a fact that more and more people now decide to identify as Indigenous Australians. To understand the reasons why it now seems easier to claim one’s Indigenous heritage, I propose to study a group of people whose identity is challenged by the barriers created around Indigenous and white Australian identities. I focus on young Australians who grew up with Reconciliation and in a ‘white’ cultural environment but who found out that they have Indigenous heritage. Hybridity has always been a problematic concept in Australia: ‘half-caste’ children were taken from their families in the hope of ‘breeding out the colour’ and erasing Indigenous culture. Fair-skinned Aborigines have often passed for white in order not to be marginalized. Because they inhabit an in-between space, hybrid people are often on the margins. New and less defined identities are created as these people decide to identify as Indigenous Australians today. These are unstable identities and the words used by the participants I interviewed reveal complex relationships between different parts of their identity: what does it mean to be white or black beyond skin colour? Can someone claim to be Indigenous without having ‘lived black’? Does one feel more, less, or differently Australian because one has Indigenous heritage? Is it possible to claim to be part-Indigenous and identify with one’s other heritage just as strongly? These are some of the notions I want to explore to explain how the people I interviewed perceive their identity and create their own way of relating to ‘white’ and ‘black’ Australian cultures.

Biographical note: I have been a Ph.D student at the Université Paris Dauphine for three years, under the supervision of Martine Piquet. The research I did during my Master’s degree of English studies was centered on the questions of identity, Indigenous representation, and Reconciliation in today’s Australia. I first worked on the place of Indigenous culture during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games before studying the content and impact of Indigenous theatre on black and white audiences, and its links to Reconciliation. My current research focuses on the way young Australians (mainly born between 1980 and 1990) raised in a white cultural environment deal with the discovery of their Indigenous heritage. I would like to see how the vision of Indigenous people and culture has evolved in Australia in the last two decades.


Debenham, Dr Jennifer

University of Newcastle

‘Performing Science: The Field Work of the South Australian Board of Anthropological Research at Cockatoo Creek, 1931’

Relationships that developed between Aboriginal people and the scientists who studied them have been fraught with problems arising from the unequal power relations between them. As a consequence of these unequal power relations, Aboriginal people were positioned in an ethnographic present outlined by Fabian, (1983) which effectively separated them from modernity. This modality has been recorded on educational and anthropological films. In 1931 the South Australian Board for Anthropological Research filmed their interactions with Aboriginal people at Cockatoo Creek. The film was a record of an elaborate display of scientific ritual that displays the proficiency of the scientists and what they believed was their scientific objectivism. This film as a representation of this unequal relationship and is the focus of this argument. It highlights the implied rationale used by scientists to justify their activities, driven by the scientific hypothesises they developed within a wider scientific paradigm. As a result, their interactions are reflected in their behaviour towards their Aboriginal test subjects, emphasising the biological and physical distance between white and Aboriginal Australians. I argue that the film is a representation of this overt power imbalance, but importantly, there appears to be a subversive power exercised by the Aboriginal people on the film that at first evades critical consideration. 

Biographical note: Jennifer Debenham has been recently been awarded her Doctorate in History: Representations of Aborigines in Documentary Film 1901 – 2009, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ourimbah Campus, University of Newcastle.  Jennifer is currently a sessional tutor in Australian History and Sociology.  Her special interests are mythology in history, representation, memory, gender, race and class in Australian and international history over a range of time periods.  An anthropological understanding of historical issues steers the perspectives in her inquiry.  Currently she is a Senior Research Assistant with the Centre for the Study of the History of Violence at University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus.  Her current research is considering the way Aboriginal Australians have been represented on documentary film. The Australia Day Regatta, co-authored with Dr Christine Cheater, was released earlier this year by New South Publishing.


Delmege, Dr Sharon

Murdoch University

‘Urban Survival and the Price of Autonomy in Perth Camps during the Twentieth Century’

My presentation will chart relations between government departments, local residents and Aborigines who identified as ‘campies’ in the metropolitan area of Perth, to show the changing roles of government, the attitudes of residents and the agency of campies. It highlights the significance of sanitation as a mechanism of control and shows that efforts to confine or expel Aborigines were never entirely successful. I will argue that campies were routinely treated as a ‘nuisance’ but that they had a limited autonomy that was both tenuous and a mixed blessing. I will show that campies were subject to ongoing, assimilationist pressures to lose their cultural identity, but were given little opportunity to be included. I will show that by the time community and administrative attitudes had changed and the ‘salt and pepper’ housing policy was introduced, ostensibly, to facilitate integration within the wider community, that many campies had lost interest in joining in and sought instead to create Aboriginal communities with their own regular housing and facilities, which was the very principle that the ‘salt and pepper’ housing policy was designed to prevent.

Biographical note: Sharon Delmege is the Chair of Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University. Her research interests cross a range of disciplines including Western Australian history and Australian Indigenous studies, with a particular focus on cultural politics and Aboriginal housing in Perth during the twentieth century. Dr Delmege has published in the area and most recently, Australian Historical Studies has published her article on Aboriginal housing in Perth in the twentieth century, focusing on the transition from camplife to suburbia.


Elder, Associate Professor Catriona

University of Sydney 

‘Love in the Time of War: Race, Culture, and Family in Some Australian Fiction’

This paper explores fiction, family, race and war. It is located as part of a broader project on Children Born of War, a research project led by Dr Victoria Grieves. Grieves’ research focuses on the aftermath of war and explores what happens to children born as a result of sexual relationships and romances between overseas troops  – in particular non-white troops – and Australian women – in particular Indigenous women – after World War II. My part of the joint project is focused on the representational tropes, especially in fiction, that are used to think through ‘love’ and ‘sex’ and ‘family’ during war and in its aftermath.

Drawing an variety of genre – from realist fiction, to historical romance – set across a variety of wars – from World War I to the war in Afghanistan – I focus on a theme emerging in many of the texts – that of mixed-up and mixed identities. In these novels the plot often hinges on unknown or muddled origins. So children born in the circumstances of war may not know for sure who their mother or father is or where the boundaries of their family lie. This paper tracks the terrain of romances  that emerge in these books and explores the representations of the pleasure and terror of falling in love with men who appear out of nowhere and out of place; men who are present one moment and gone the next.  The key question is how after the social upheaval of war, the illicit romances, illegitimate children and lost parents are sorted out.

Biographical note: Associate Professor Catriona Elder is a scholar of Australian Studies who thinks about Australia in an international context. Her work is based around intercultural exchange. She focuses on issues of cultural difference, for example: Indigeneity and reconciliation, immigration and racism. Key publications include: New Voices, New Visions: Challenging Australian Identities and Legacies (edited with Keith Moore, 2012); Dreams and Nightmares of a White Australia: Fantasies of Assimilation in Australian Popular Fiction, (Peter Lang, 2009) and Being Australian: Narratives of National Identity, (Allen and Unwin, 2007).  Dr Elder is the University of Sydney member of the World University Network (WUN) Understanding Cultures Steering Committee. Current research projects are related to Indigenous wellbeing in relation to national inclusion and exclusion and work on mixed-race families in Australia. Dr Elder is also the co-convenor of an International Indigenous Research Network exploring issues of ethics and collaborative research


Emmerson, Mark

University of Southern Queensland 

‘Bleeding for an adopted Empire: The involvement of Danish-Australian soldiers during World War I’

As war spread across Europe in late 1914, the global implications of such a conflict were not lost on many of Australia’s smaller migrant denominations. Danish-born settlers, remnants of an earlier period of Nordic migration to the Australia between 1870 and 1914, became particularly eager to support the Australian war effort as adopted defenders of the British Empire. These migrants had made it clear to themselves and wider Australian society that, on emigrating and becoming naturalised, they had joined whole-heartedly with the political aspirations of Australia and its motherland, Great Britain. While their Nordic homelands remained supposedly ‘neutral’, the majority of Australia’s Scandinavians – particularly the Danes who saw this as an opportunity to fight as part of a larger force against their old enemy, Germany – supported the involvement of their adopted country in the War and many young Danish-Australians enlisted as part of the First Australian Imperial Force (1st A.I.F.).

This paper examines the motivations, experiences and sacrifices of Danish migrants as part of the Australian armed forces during World War I, and the reportage of their exploits in the Scandinavian-Australian foreign-language press. The paper argues that while the migrant press promoted these men as symbols of migrant pride and a very tangible Scandinavian contribution to the war effort, the soldiers themselves very quickly shed their old-world identities in favour of joining a new national consciousness – one driven by an emerging Anzac mythos and a real sense of what it was to be ‘Australian’ during and after World War I.

Biographical note: Mark Emmerson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (1st class honours) from USQ in 2006. He has since gone on to study a Master of Arts (Scandinavian History) from Linkoping University, Sweden, and is currently completing his PhD, focusing on Scandinavian-Australian migrant communities in Australasia, 1850-1945. Mark has several years’ experience teaching, tutoring and marking history subjects at USQ. An early career researcher, Mark’s wide-ranging research interests have swayed in recent years to focus upon themes of migration and ethnicity, including transnational histories, the co-existence of national and macro-national identities amongst migrant populations, as well as issues of Australian cultural homogenisation, race and the visibility of ‘white’ minority groups within early 20th century Australia. He also works at USQ as a research administrator.


Finlay, Grant

University of Tasmania

‘‘SubalterNativities’: Aboriginal religious responses to Christian faith in Van Diemen’s Land’

Religious identity is deeply personal for many people. Religious conversion changes foundational personal and communal narratives and relationships. Religious conversions by subaltern people within colonial contexts are complex and multi-dimensional. Simplistic binaries of ‘Christian’ or ‘Aboriginal’ are insufficient in describing people’s lives particularly in the first generations of colonial contact.

An examination of previously unpublished papers from the Aboriginal Settlement on Flinders Island in the 1830’s suggests that rather than being brainwashed and passive people, Tasmanian Aborigines interpreted Christian faith through their continuing and adapting, religious perspectives and practices. Aboriginal responses were diverse and part of negotiating new intra and inter-Aboriginal clan relationships, as well as negotiating Aboriginal – colonial relationships in this emerging context.

Later regimented Aboriginal missions and reserves had not yet developed and in this context these people were fashioning new ways of being Aboriginal and being Christian as they exercised multiple roles and identities simultaneously. This paper examines the diverse contexts, multivalent interpretations, and varied responses of Aboriginal people to Christian faith and invites more nuanced and intimate inter-religious dialogue.

Biographical note: I am a PhD candidate with the University of Tasmania and have been examining ways Tasmanian Aboriginal people have incorporated the Christian faith into their cultural identity. I am particularly interested in the variety of Aboriginal responses and the continuation and adaptation of religious narratives and practices in colonial and contemporary contexts.


Greaves, Robyn

University of Tasmania

‘Ernestine Hill and Mary Durack’s settler narratives’

If, in Australia, as Anna Johnston and Alan Lawson write, “vast and empty lands … called out … to the European imagination to be filled … by the stories and histories that … legitimated settlement”, then Ernestine Hill’s and Mary Durack’s accounts of north-western Australia participated in this process of legitimation/legitimisation (“Settler Colonies” 364). Hill and Durack sought to inscribe a white history into the pages of the nation, along with the various manifestations of ways of identification and belonging this involved. Notions of identity in settler nations are inextricably linked to identification with and/or against indigenous peoples. Rather than simply subscribing to and reinforcing imperialist tropes (and therefore able to be placed within a distinctly imperialist tradition), Hill’s and Durack’s narratives reveal anxieties that arise out of the difficult position occupied by settler societies. They could be included with the “early pioneer writers” identified by Gina Wisker who “began to portray … hidden histories and to question the established complacencies and orthodoxies of colonial, imperial or settler ways of life” (Wisker 158). In Hill’s and Durack’s texts Aborigines exist alongside white settlers in a complex relationship of interdependence and conflict. At the same time, however, their texts display “the anxious tropes of proximity” identified by Lawson in relation to the co-existence of settlers and Aborigines (“Anxious Proximities” 1214). In Hill’s sprawling accounts of remote Australia, Aborigines are acknowledged as always already there in the landscape and working alongside the characters Hill encounters in relationships of interdependence. Durack’s family histories also portray the close working relationships between settlers and Aborigines in these regions as each adjusted to a “new order of things” (Sons in the Saddle 49), at the same time remaining ‘intimate strangers’. This paper examines the relations between settler Australians and Aborigines revealed in Hill’s and Durack’s texts. Each exhibits the contradictions and vacillations that were part of the consciousness of settlers at a time when Australia was emerging as a modern nation in its own right separate from the imperial centre.

Biographical note:  Robyn Greaves is a PhD candidate in the English program at the University of Tasmania. Her current thesis title is ‘Unconventional Women: An Examination of the Writings of Four Female Contributors to Walkabout Magazine.’ Her research interests are in Australian literature; culture and identity; objects in literature; space, place, memory, and life-writing.


Harris, Dr Stephen

University of New England

‘New Worlds and Good Mates: The Politics and Territory of Friendship in Gabriel de Foigny’s The Southern Land, Know and Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career’

In Gabriel de Foigny’s much-overlooked utopia, The Southern Land, Known (1676), the narrator Nicholas Saduer observes that “ … the word father is unknown to Australians … [and] I was forced to admit that the great empire that the male had usurped over the female was rather a form of tyranny than a just cause.”  It is one of a number of points Saduer is compelled to concede during a discussion with his hermaphroditic mentor and rescuer, Suains, who, as a representative inhabitant of the mythical Southern Land of Australia, is the embodiment of “other” values – cultural, moral, political and social.  De Foigny’s utopian vision of a ‘new world’ of human relationships aligns in interesting ways with Sybylla Melvyn’s ‘revisioning’ of human relationships in Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career.  When Sybylla asks the leading question, “Why did not social arrangements allow a man and a maid to be chums?” and later proclaims a form of enlightened ‘mateship’ with an importunate tramp who appears in the gentrified precinct of Caddagat – “[He is] One of my brothers – one of God’s children under the Southern Cross”  – she dramatises her determination to conjure other possibilities for personal and social relations in defiance of the containing moral, social and cultural strictures of her time and place in colonial Australia.  This paper will compare these two novels in terms of the political nature of the themes central to each – the themes of justice and equality as imagined in both social, political and interpersonal terms, and as these themes afford fresh perspectives on the 21st century notions of intimacy, companionship and friendship.  Both texts, while generically different, figure the “new world” of Australia as the site on which politically imaginative ideas are projected; and each in surprisingly complementary ways, demonstrate the means by which fiction can exceed the bounds of the respective author’s historical and social context to create a space in which to explore and experiment with ideas and ideals.

Biographical note: Stephen Harris lectures in the School of Arts, University of New England (NSW, Australia), teaching in the areas of literary studies (specialising in American Literature and Australian Literature) and non-fiction studies. He has higher degrees in Australian Literature and American Literature and among his publications are the books The Fiction of Gore Vidal and E.L.Doctorow: Writing the Historical Self (2002) and Gore Vidal’s Historical Novels and the Shaping of American Political Consciousness (2005). He is currently completing a comparative study entitled New Worlds and the Borders of Self: Individualism, America and the Making of Australia and, as an active member of the cross-disciplinary research group WraIN (UNE), he is working in the area of ecocritical studies, publishing research focusing on the relationship between literature and the environment.


Hartley, Dr Barbara

University of Tasmania

‘Foes, friends and intimacy in Christine Piper’s After Darkness’

After Darkness, the 2014 Vogel Award winning novel by Christine Piper, is the narrative of a Japanese doctor who arrives in Broome in 1938 to work as a medical officer for the town’s Japanese diver community. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the doctor is arrested and interned with other Japanese nationals at Loveday Camp, South Australia.  With a flashback format narrative, Piper overlays her tale of tensions between the Loveday internees with a chillingly confronting account of the excesses of Unit 731, the germ warfare installation which operated under the command of the notorious Ishii Shiro (1892-1959), the Josef Mengele of Japan. The depiction of this installation is one element that gives meaning to the “darkness” profiled in the title of the work.

Since the novel moves through Loveday, Broome and Tokyo, analysis might focus on events in any one of these sites, while also acknowledging the author’s skill at drawing one of the darkest elements of Japan’s imperial project into the narrative. This presentation, however, will focus on relations between Australians and Japanese at Loveday, including the liminal position held by the Australian/Japanese men, a number of whom were born in Australia and had little identification with Japan. Members of this group are held in deep contempt by camp inmates of “pure” Japanese blood. While it is never useful to equate an author with her text, Piper’s background as the child of an Australian father and Japanese mother is almost certain to have provided insights into, and given her the ability to narrate successfully, the exclusionist behaviours that range from mild slights to serious physical abuse experienced by the Japanese/Australian men.

Attention will also be given to the relationship between the protagonist, Ibaraki, and the Loveday guard, McCubbin. The twenty-first century is an era of brutal social policy in which, as former Australian of the Year, Dr John Yu, has noted, Australia dehumanises those fleeing persecution by labelling them ‘irregular arrivals.’[1] The warmth and trust that develops between Ibaraki and McCubbin reveals the bankrupt nature of current Australian attitudes towards the other, while also confirming the potential for friendship or even intimacy between those whom hegemonic discourses demand be the bitterest of foes.

Biographical note: Barbara Hartley is a senior lecturer and program director of Asian Languages and Studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Her doctoral studies examined representations of motherhood in twentieth century narrative in Japan and she has a wide background in feminist analysis of modern Japanese literature. She has also has a strong interest in representations of China in Japanese narrative, particularly in the works of post-war writer, Takeda Taijun (1912-1976). Barbara has published several discussions of Takeda Taijun’s work including, most recently, a chapter in the 2013 Routledge collection, Foreigners and Foreign Institutions in Republican China (Chinese Worlds), edited by Anne-Marie Brady and Douglas Brown, entitled ‘Takeda Taijun in Shanghai: Recollections of Republican China and Imperial Japan.’ With Tomoko Aoyama she is joint editor of the 2010 Routledge publication Girl Reading Girl in Japan and also the joint translator of Kanai Mieko’s Koharu biyori (1989; trans. 2012 Indian Summer).


Henderson, Dr Ian

King’s College, London

‘The Menzies Centre’

Abstract forthcoming

Biographical note: Ian Henderson is the Menzies Lecturer in Australian Studies in the Department of English Language and Literature at King’s College London.


Hopkins-Weise, Jeff

Professional Historian

‘Australasian humanitarianism and memorialisation: The trans-Tasman dimension of the HMS Orpheus Disaster and Relief Fund and Hobart Mariners Church Memorial, 1863-1864.

While much has been written about aspects of memorialisation and humanitarianism in the 20th and 21st centuries, little research has been undertaken looking at the experience of the Trans-Tasman world of the nineteenth century, especially during the times of conflict with the Maori people in the 1840s and 1860s. This is surprising as Australia’s involvement in these so called “Maori wars” clearly showed not only the diversity and importance of Australian involvement, but also in material and manpower terms, that this input was of considerable importance to the outcomes of the wars that plagued New Zealand. Not only was there a significant Australian context to the wars, but there was also in existence an Australian “home front” as part of this overall experience. Aspects of Australian involvement not previously acknowledged is the organisation and contributions to relief funds such as one created for the Bay of Islands settlers in 1845, and the Taranaki Settler Relief Fund and British Soldier Family Relief in the 1860s. One further extension of the interest in the welfare and support of Imperial military personnel (and their families) was the establishment and support of the relief fund following the loss of the flagship of the Australia Station, HMS Orpheus, and the deaths of some 189 members of the crew in February 1863. This maritime disaster and the extent of military deaths was the single most disastrous loss of life ever suffered by Imperial forces in Australasia during the 19th century. This paper explores these events, and places this relief fund and the Hobart raised Orpheus memorial into a greater understanding of humanitarianism and memorialisation in the colonial trans-Tasman world.

Biographical note: Jeff is a professional historian and museum officer who has a very keen interest and experience in Queensland, Australian, New Zealand and Pacific history. He has a particular expertise in the role and experience of the British Army and the early colonial military forces in Queensland, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Australian involvement in the New Zealand (or Maori) wars of the 1840s and 1860s. Jeff has published extensively on many of these historical themes, as well as other aspects of Queensland or Australian history, such as the Pacific Islander labour trade, Queensland maritime history, and the military horse trade to New Zealand. He is currently involved in an ongoing research project in association with Professor Lyndall Ryan, University of Newcastle, and historian Rod Pratt into early war memorials and memorialisation in colonial Australia and New Zealand (especially focusing on the 99th Regiment New Zealand Wars 1845-46 Memorial in Hobart, Tasmania), but also exploring the role and service of the 99th Regiment in Foot in Australia and New Zealand during the 1840s and 1850s.


Jabbour, Samya

University of Tasmania

‘Healing our connection to country’

This paper explores issues of displacement, migration and colonisation as they relate to environmental management in Australia. As a Palestinian-Australian environmental scientist living on Wadjuk Noongar Country, the author addresses the complexities of straddling both sides of a colonisation story through concurrent themes of displacement and migration, cultural loss and cultural appropriation, disadvantage and privilege, control and care as applicable to environmental thought. This research examines what is involved in coming into the kind of relationship with country that is capable of bringing vitality to the land in a contemporary Australian context. What needs to be addressed to enable this? Can all stories be acknowledged here? And can this kind of relationship offer a viable antidote to the modern environmental crisis?

Biographical note: Samya Jabbour was born on Bibbulman country on the ancestral land of the Wadjuk Noongar people, a half days walk from the banks of the Derbal Yerrigan. Her own ancestral stories were spoken in Arabic over small cups of coffee, under olive groves and vaulted stone ceilings on land she is not allowed to live on. She grew up speaking English in the suburbs of Perth. Samya worked for many years in various environmental science roles in State and Federal government agencies before a series of life-changing events led her down an adjacent path. She is now trying to make sense of the journey so far and is working towards a PhD entitled Healing our connection to country: listening beyond environmental management.


Jensen, Associate Professor Lars

Roskilde University, Denmark

‘Voicing the Down Under: Mining and the Australian national imaginary’

Mining has long been recognised as a way of explaining Australia’s demographic evolution post-1788-invasion, yet it has also been an oddly unrecognised national narrative. Mining typically emerges as a national discourse during mining booms, and retreats underground after the inevitable bust. Few if any Australian novels has mining as a frame, a few has mining as a backdrop (The Fortunes of Richard Mahony and Carpentaria are two major exceptions at either end of the chronological scale). The shelves of Australian history books typically focus on wars, convicts, bushrangers, violent settlement history and the struggle over Australia’s ‘whiteness’ as the centre of the nation’s imaginary – and in more popular cultural orientated accounts – sports. While this may not be about to change, a major documentary blockbuster – if that is not a contradiction in terms – exception to this rule is Dirty Business – SBS’s 3 part series which I shall be discussing in this paper. The paper looks at how mining as a national discourse confirms and challenges prevalent readings of Australia’s national imaginary.

Biographical note: Lars Jensen is Associate Professor at Cultural Encounters, Roskilde University. He has worked on and off in Australian Studies over two decades. He was the co-editor of an issue of Jeasa (2.2. 2011), dedicated to whiteness studies in Australia, for which he wrote an article on Australia, ‘The Whiteness of Climate Change’. He was a board member of EASA from 2003-2009 and revisits Australia on a regular basis to be reassured nothing has changed.


Johnson, Dr Amanda

University of Melbourne

‘Roving pastmodern: The role of intercultural representation in the postcolonial historical novels of Rohan Wilson’

The Roving Party (Allen and Unwin 2011) and Toosie (forthcoming with Allen and Unwin) explore classically contested representational terrain in relation to depictions of Tasmanian settler occupation and settler contact with Indigenous peoples. I argue that critical responses to The Roving Party’s complex portrayals of intercultural pasts have been disappointingly blindsided by critical political correctness endemic to outmoded postcolonial identity debates.

I propose that Indigenous Professor Marcia Langton’s groundbreaking postcolonial interpretations of theories of intercultural subjectivity (via Spivak, Levinas, Bakhtin and others) have long since paved the way for post-millennial re-evaluations of subject positions and orthodox theories of otherness, thereby enabling novelist and critic alike less prescriptive and less orthodox approaches to making and reading intercultural themes within novels of ‘Australian pasts’. Novelists such as Kim Scott have shored up Langton’s contribution within the field, galvanising a post-millennial generation of black and white writers to bolder, sometimes more complicated imaginative portraitures of Australian pasts.

I show finally how Wilson exploits particular narrative techniques to move beyond the ‘fatal attractions’ of the literary extinction narrative and idealised and/or racist images of Aboriginality and whiteness. Wilson’s novels are therefore discussed anew as emblematic of progressive responses to themes of dispossession and settler violence.

Biographical note: Amanda Frances Johnson is a writer and artist and a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. Her paintings have been exhibited in Australia and overseas, and her poetry has appeared in many anthologies including Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry 1986–2008 and Best Australian Poems 2009, 2010 and 2011 and 2013 respectively. Her 2007 novel Eugene’s Falls (Arcadia) retraces the wilderness journeys of colonial painter Eugene von Guerard. Her poetry collection The Pallbearer’s Garden was published in 2008. The Wind-up Birdman of Moorabool Street (Puncher and Wattmann 2012) received the 2012 Michel Wesley Wright Prize. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the ABR Peter Porter Poetry Prize. She is currently working on a novel about Louise Girardin who, disguised as a male naval steward, accompanied the French explorer Admiral Bruny D’Entrecasteaux to the remote Tasman South West Cape in 1792. A monograph, Archival Salvage: The Australian Postcolonial Novel is forthcoming with Rodopi (2015).


Jones, Dr Jo

University of Tasmania

‘The vertiginous nation: Literatures of massacre and the cliff’s edge’

John Docker has recently explicated the anxiety surrounding violent acts by European Australians against Indigenous Australians. He argues that too often for European Australians, who perceive themselves as recipients of exclusion and oppression, such anxiety emerges through a type of expressionistic response: that of vertigo. His analysis hinges on an early scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, where an Indigenous child mystically stops hundreds of stampeding cattle falling from towering cliffs. The connection to the well-known instances of indigenous groups being shot and thrown from, or driven over cliffs would be apparent to many viewers, thus the inclusion of this type of action in Luhrmann’s ambitious melange of national myth and iconography. While details of separate massacres at Risdon Cove (1804), Cape Grim (1825), Cape Bedford (1879), Bells Falls Gorge (1824) may not be understood by many individuals, the enduring imprint left by the idea of cliff’s-edge massacre is still writ large in the national memory. While this form of massacre seems, with its absence of bodies, conveniently neat and suited to the types of melancholic remembering intrinsic to Australian culture, the cliff’s-edge massacre also signals a deep irresolution and, as Docker puts it, anxious incoherence about colonial violence.

Mark Levine has stated that the massacres not only give “shape to history […] it also implies that the emphasis here may not be what actually happened, so much as how it has been remembered.” This paper intends to look at cliff’s edge massacres and the way they have been remembered through both the writing of literature and its inclusion in state English/Literature syllabi over the past fifty years. While the literary depiction of this type of action belongs to an earlier historical moment (many more recent fictional versions of massacres involve both extreme violence and its bloody, grotesque aftermath), these early massacre texts, most importantly Judith Wright’s poem “Nigger’s Leap, New England” (1945), retain an influential cultural position through high school English teaching and continue to provoke complex and vexed processes of vertiginous remembering.

Biographical note: Dr Jo Jones is a lecturer in English Studies in the Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania. She has a PhD Australian colonial historical novels and has taught extensively at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Jo has a forthcoming monograph Dark Times: Australian Historical Novels and the History Wars (UWA Publishing) and is a currently co-authoring Local Canons, a work based on a wide-ranging survey about texts studied in Australian secondary schools.


Kato, Professor Megumi

Meisei University, Tokyo

‘From Foe to Friend to Father Figure: Representations of the Japanese in Australian Literature’

Representations of the Japanese people in Australian literature over time show a relationship between the two countries that has drastically changed from foe to friend.  Australia has a history of portraying Japan as the ‘possible enemy’.  From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of 20th century, they were the ‘dubious’ ally during World War I; during the Pacific War, they were enemy aliens; and from the post war years to the present, they became the partner-friend in business, politics and diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.

In early writings on the Japanese, a strong sense of exclusiveness and intensely anti feelings against the possible enemy prevailed, portrayed with a degree of decisiveness and conviction, despite many of authors of such writings not having actual contact with the Japanese. They used ‘images’ of the Japanese as a means to establish their own self in post-colonial circumstances, thus creating their own image as an independent nation.

This negative intimacy held by Australians against the Japanese is also observed in literature of the Pacific War, in the experiences on the battlefield, in POW camps and by postwar occupation forces.  They are in a sense ‘masculine’ writings in which Australian authors, seeking to perceive their nation as self-sustained, independent and united, use the enemy figure as a means to protect their self-image.

Later in the 1990s and through the turn of the 20th century, some authors, such as Paddy O’Reilly and Gail Jones, started to use Japanese characters as ‘father figures’.  As Alison Broinowski points out, these characters seem to play a mentor-like role, a kind of spiritual paragon, interestingly by female authors in many cases, giving expatriate and cosmopolitan Australians a sense of direction in the new age of globalism and the seeming borderlessness of post-modern Australia.

By interpreting representations of Japanese ‘other’ in Australian literature, a dimension of the course of changes in Australian society over the past century can be observed.  This paper examines these examples and tries to explore what influence society has given to literary writings, and vice versa.  It also tries to reveal the significance of representing the ‘other’ in literature and the role authors play in forming these representations.

Biographical note: Megumi Kato is professor at Meisei University in Tokyo where she teaches English and cultural studies.  Her publications include Narrating the Other: Australian Literary Perceptions of Japan (Monash University, Press, 2008). Its Japanese version was published in Tokyo in 2013.


Kelly, Andrew

University of Western Sydney

‘Discord in Trans-Tasman Relations, 1951-1956’

Australia and New Zealand can boast that they share one of the closest and most intimate bilateral relationships in the world. As a testament to this close relationship, historians point to post-war relations and the signing of the ANZUS treaty in September 1951 to demonstrate mutual cooperation and foreign policy agreement between Australia and New Zealand. The invariable convention, particularly among Australian historians, has become that views, interests and policies across the Tasman Sea were so similar during this period that Canberra and Wellington were often grouped together as an indistinguishable body. While not discounting the many striking similarities between Australia and New Zealand, this paper draws on extensive archival research to suggest that this historical paradigm is short-sighted. Australia and New Zealand disagreed over the shape ANZUS should take, the military commitment each should offer to defend the Middle East, how to approach a communist government in China and dealing with uprisings in Southeast Asia. These differences stemmed largely from competing conceptions of the US and Britain’s place in its external relations. In this context, this paper argues that the intimate Trans-Tasman relationship that many historians describe requires further historical reconsideration.

Biographical note: Andrew Kelly is a PhD Candidate with the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney. His current research examines Australian, New Zealand and American foreign and defence policies during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He holds a BA in Asian Studies and a First Class Honours degree in History.


Kilmister, Michael

University of Newcastle, Australia.

‘The Italian Connection: Australia’s Man in Italy, 1920-1927’

A distinguished Australian-Italian, Gustave Ramaciotti’s obscurity in the historiography belies the pioneering role he played in the evolution of Australia’s foreign policy. A soldier before he was a diplomat, his long career in the Australian Army climaxed with his promotion to major-general in 1919; a notable achievement in an era when Southern European migration was the antithesis to Australia’s xenophobic immigration policy. He was well and favourably known to Prime Minister W.M. Hughes, one of the White Australia Policy’s most strident defenders and a statesman who was liable to publically use the pejorative ‘dago’ to refer to Italians. Hughes personally entrusted Ramaciotti with an honorary mission of inquiry to Italy in 1920. The nature of his mission evolved over time and, from 1923 until his death in December 1927, was carried out under the auspices of Prime Minister S.M. Bruce. Investigation of Australian-Italo trade was the initial focus of the mission but following Benito Mussolini’s famed ‘March on Rome’, Ramaciotti increasingly turned his attention to political developments in Italy. His confidential reports, which were unique in the context of Australian-Italian relations, constituted one of Australia’s only independent sources of diplomatic intelligence in the 1920s. In an age when Australia’s diplomacy was principally conducted via London and its network of foreign offices, Ramaciotti’s mission represented decisive independence.

Through a biographical approach, this paper explores how Ramaciotti was able to surmount racial, cultural and geo-political barriers to become vital to Australia’s early foreign affairs machinery. He remained trusted by both Australian and Italian officials over the course of 1920-1927; a period of time that witnessed changes in government in both countries. The history of Ramaciotti’s Italian mission challenges orthodox notions of Australia’s parochialism in foreign affairs prior to the Second World War.

Biographical note: Michael Kilmister is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Newcastle, Australia. His thesis project focuses on politician and lawyer, Sir John Latham and the development of foreign policy in interwar Australia. This year, he presented at the Fifth International History Graduate Intensive at the University of Sydney, 17-18 July and at the Australian Historical Association’s Annual Conference at the University of Queensland, 7-11 July. He is a lecturer and tutor in the School of Humanities and Social Science and the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre at the University of Newcastle.


Lindsey, Dr Kiera

University of South Australia 

‘The Jealous State: Consent, Citizenship and contemporary Multiculturalism’

In May 2012 the then Attorney General of Australia announced the first Australian criminal legislation specifically concerned with forced marriage declaring that there was no place for such practices ‘in a modern democratic nation like Australia’. This legislation passed in the House of Representatives despite minimal response to a Senate Committee recommendation that called for ‘solid empirical data’ before the drafting of any legislation. Many community representatives were extremely critical of this process, with some declaring that the nature of forced marriage was being exaggerated in ways that demonised migrant communities and ‘othered’ cultural practices such as arranged marriage. Associated media coverage further suggests that representations of both forced and arranged marriage have repeatedly served to justify the state’s ‘benevolent’ intervention into ‘despotic’ and ‘primitive’ Islamic communities. This paper considers how female consent and companionate marriage have been used to celebrate the liberal impulses of the contemporary multicultural nation in ways that simultaneously conceals how the state continues to use marriage to regulate social boundaries and define citizenship. As an institution that is innately concerned with intimacy, marriage still seems to play a powerful, if discreet way of determining the nation’s friends and foes.

Biographical note: Dr Kiera Lindsey is a lecturer in Australian History and Australian Studies at the University of South Australia and is also Secretary of  the International Australian Studies Association.


Kossew, Professor Sue

Monash University

‘Intimate Histories: Revisiting (Western) Australia’s Haunted Past’

In two recent novels by Australian women writers, one set just after World War I, the other just after World War II, these historical periods (and their settings in Western Australia) are re-imagined in order to examine the nature of racialised and gendered relations.

Moira McKinnon’s debut novel, Cicada (2014), has at its centre the evolving relationship between two women: one white and privileged, the other Aboriginal and her servant. Both are fleeing from violence and prejudice and the novel evokes the nature of their enforced intimacy, and the changes in the power relations between them, during their epic journey.

In Christine Piper’s Vogel-award-winning After Darkness (2104), a Japanese doctor working in Broome suddenly becomes an “enemy alien” in the 1940s and is sent to the Loveday internment camp in South Australia where other such migrants (Japanese, German and Italian), now reclassified as foes, are interned.

This paper seeks to explore the nature of the apparently unstable concepts of friend and foe as they are represented in these novels. It will consider the ways in which the writers return to the past in order to think through contemporary issues of intercultural and interracial relations, particularly in the light of attitudes towards apology and reconciliation.

Biographical note: Sue Kossew holds degrees from the Universities of Cape Town, East Anglia and New South Wales. Her work is in contemporary post-colonial literatures, with a focus on South Africa and Australia, and with particular interest in the work of J. M. Coetzee and contemporary women writers. Her publications include Pen and Power: A Post-colonial Reading of J. M. Coetzee and André Brink (1996), Critical Essays on J. M. Coetzee (1998), Re-Imagining Africa: New Critical Perspectives (ed. with Dianne Schwerdt, 2001) and Writing Woman, Writing Place: Australian and South African Fiction (2004). She has edited a book of critical essays on the work of Kate Grenville entitled Lighting Dark Places (2010) and co-edited a collection of essays with Chris Danta and Julian Murphet, Strong Opinions: J. M. Coetzee and the Authority of Contemporary Fiction (2011). She has published numerous articles and chapters on Coetzee’s work and has been commissioned to write an annotated online bibliography on J.M. Coetzee for Oxford University Press. She holds an ARC Discovery Grant entitled “Rethinking the Victim: Gendered Violence in Australian Women’s Writing” with A/Prof. Anne Brewster.

She is Professor of English at Monash University and is on the editorial boards of Journal of Commonwealth Literature and The Literary Encyclopedia.


Mann, Dr Jatinder

University of Alberta

‘A comparison of Australia and Canada’s experiences during the First World War’

The First World War had a tremendous impact on Canada and Australia both domestically and internationally. Their societies were put under considerable pressure due to the exigencies of war and they were forced to adopt an international role due to their war efforts, especially within the British Empire. This paper will compare the experiences of Canada and Australia during the First World War in terms of ‘Recruitment, Conscription and its Aftermath’, ‘Finance and Loans’, and ‘Working in the Imperial System’. The paper will begin with putting the whole issue into some sort of historical context, it will then turn to discussing the existing historiography briefly, before exploring the three main themes identified above in relation to the two countries and comparing them.

Biographical note: Jatinder Mann is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta. Jatinder has published articles in the Australian Journal of Politics and History, Nations and Nationalism, and Commonwealth & Comparative Politics – all front-ranking, international journals. He also has a forthcoming article in the International Journal of Canadian Studies, another leading interdisciplinary journal. Jatinder is contracted as a co-editor in the production of Documents on Australian Foreign Policy on War and Peace, 1914-1919, which is scheduled to be published in April 2016. He was awarded his doctorate in history at The University of Sydney in 2011 for a thesis entitled ‘The search for a new national identity: A comparative study of the rise of multiculturalism in Canada and Australia, 1890s-1970s’. Jatinder was short-listed for the ‘Best Doctoral Thesis in Canadian Studies Award’ by the International Council for Canadian Studies in November 2012. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship by the Australian government and an International Postgraduate Award by The University of Sydney for his doctoral research. Previously he completed an MA in Australian studies at King’s College London; and a BA in history at University College London, with First Class Honours.


Manoharan, Dr Aleena

C.M.S College, Kottayam, Kerala, India

‘Exploring Tinai in Australian Aboriginal Texts’

The most popular belief regarding Indo-Australian relations has been that the Aborigines of Australia migrated into the continent 50,000 years ago from South India. Such beliefs have been justified through recent researches which evince that migrations have taken place as recently as 4000 years, a premise which underscores the fact that there have been not just specimens of South Indian genes in Australia but also high degree of similarity between the cultures of the two places. Based on this understanding the present paper is an attempt to investigate elements of tinai culture in Aboriginal texts.

Tinai was first mentioned in Tolkappiyam, the most ancient Tamil treatise and was an ancient Tamil society that was intrinsically bound to the land. In tinai society, the land determined the mode of living and cultural practices of its inhabitants. There are five major kinds of tinai, namely the montane (kurinci), the pastoral (mullai), the desertic (palai), the riverine (marutam) and the littoral (neytal); each of them corresponding to the five major biomes of the world. Tinai societies also had certain underlying principles, such as indigenousness, traditionality, controlled diversity (just to mention a few), which sustained it.  Mutal, karu and uri were the three basic components of tinai society. Many aspects of tinai society, most importantly intrinsic land-human relationship, were also found in ancient Aboriginal society. Such relationships form the basis of Aboriginal oral literature and contemporary Aboriginal texts, which are a continuation of this great legacy, reinforce indigenous bonds with the land. The present paper has been attempted with the notion of conjoining tinai and Aboriginal texts on certain common grounds and thereby highlighting Indo-Australian connections through hitherto unstudied link.

Biographical note: Aleena Manoharan works as an Assistant Professor at C.M.S College (Affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University), Kottayam,Kerala, India. She did her Postgraduation from Madras Christian College, Chennai and completed her PhD at the University of Madras, Chennai, India. During her candidature was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Initiative II exchange programme to Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her current research interests include Ecocriticism, Australian Literature, Tribal Literature and Postcolonial Theory and literature. She has presented papers for national and International conferences/ Seminars including the ASAL 2014 Annual conference held at the University of Sydney, Australia. She has acted as resource person and also has publications to her credit.


Qian Mao,

Australia Studies Center, School of Economics and Trade, Xihua University

‘A Comparative Study on Pension System between Australia and China’

During the past decades, the pension systems in China and Australia formed their own characteristics, corresponding respectively to different economic situations, social environments, and demographic structure. Although the same framework of retirement systems were developed (the ‘Three-Pillars Retirement System’) each country emphasizes different sectors, and thus the ’pillars’ play different roles in each of the two economies. Comparative studies on the pension system have employed Macro scopes, such as historical analysis, theoretical basis, institutional framework, (see Lifu Cui, 1998; Ningning Ding, 2001; Maohua Zhan, 2005; Huidi Li, 2006; Zhuansheng Pi, 2006) and emphasized Australias well-developed experiences in occupational pension system, and attempts to build a similar system in China. After the 2008 world financial crisis and the ‘pension dilemma’ in OECD countries, scholars began to focus on the dynamic Interaction between pension system and economic system (see Connolly and Kohler, 2008; Bingwen Zheng and Shouji Sun, 2008;). Studies now employed Micro scopes: pension finance, pension market investments and returns (Jinfei Lu, 2009), incentive mechanisms of pension fund management, the anti-risk design of pension plans (Bingwen Zheng and Yajun Li, 2012). In this study I compare pension asset size to GDP ratio and the replacement ratio of each sector in ‘Three-Pillars’, which respectively represent the importance of pension savings in the national economy and the function for a nation’s old age finance. It is concluded that the occupational pension sector in Australia (or Superannuation Guarantee System) plays a role as important as the old age endowment sector (Basic Pension Insurance System) in China. The Australian Superannuation Guarantee System is based on Accumulation Pension system, similar to the personal saving part in Chinese Basic Pension Insurance System. However, their replacement ratios show the gap between Australia and China, and the mainly difference lies on funding source. The deep reason for the gap can be traced to wealth distribution: Chinese pension finance is based on wealth transferring between generations, while the Australian has already achieved the distribution and smoothing of personal income in a life cycle. Because of the increasing aging problems in China, leading to the reduction of demographic dividend, the well developed accumulation experiences in Australian Superannuation System are worth learning for China, whose retirement system mainly relies on Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) system. For this purpose, the comparisons in our study are not only focus on the basic content of pension system, but also go deeper on the institutional factors, such as the tax policies, legal and regulation environment, the implementation and security mechanisms, etc., which are affecting the establishment and the development of pension systems in the two countries. Through the comparative analysis, main institutional problems in Chinese pension system are sorted out, including the Macro factors: the transformation of economic structures and income distributions, the diversification of capital markets, etc.; and the Micro factors: the incentive mechanisms for fund management, the security mechanisms for wealth properties.

Biographical note: Qian Mao is in the Australia Studies Center, School of Economics and Trade, Xihua University, Sichuan, China.


Martin, Professor Susan K                                                

La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

‘‘Sanguine anticipations of the bold adventurers: Massacre as adventure in nineteenth-century Australian Fiction’

Late 20th and 21st century Australian fiction, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, engages with the most violent elements of the settlement of Australia in a wide variety of genres yet no writer has so far fully adopted the very common genre of frontier violence and encounter prevalent at the turn of the nineteenth century: the rollicking adventure tale. In a discussion of Henry Kendall’s colonial poetry, Andrew McCann suggests an intimate connection between genre and subject. He sees an attempt, or perhaps need, to found an original, Romantic Australian poetic tradition on Indigenous absence, Patrick Brantlinger’s ‘proleptic elegy’, where the society, and literary tradition, in McCann’s words ‘consolidates iself by elegising the predecessor it has in fact destroyed’ (52). McCann sees this as a Romantic failure because the work contains traces of the failure of communication with the Indigenous predecessor ‘sharing the landscape’s mystery rather than choosing to disclose it’ (56). Further, Robert Dixon argues that the appropriated colonial form of the adventure fiction inevitably fails in enacting the narrative of property, because it exposes the ‘desire for the incivility which it expels’ (21). Adventure tales with such encounters (such as Newland’s Paving the Way; Favenc’s The Secrets of the Australian Desert) set up epic battles for territory in which the Indigenous other is produced as a fitting opponent in Western military terms, so that a justified battle can seal white ownership of the land. This othering does not contain or fully credit actual successful indigenous opposition to settlement—resistance, guerilla tactics, negotiation—which is more difficult to hold within the adventure narratives, even by the familiar tropes of duplicity or weakness. This paper looks specifically at those colonial adventure novels from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which incorporate large scale violent encounters between Aboriginal Australians and settlers or adventurers.  It examines the ways in which the adventure genre fails or succeeds in establishing property rights, in Dixon’s terms and beyond, and the extent to which such adventure fiction influences subsequent narratives of encounter, or stifles them.

Biographical note: Susan K. Martin is Professor in English at La Trobe University where she teaches Australian studies and Victorian literature, and publishes on nineteenth-century and contemporary Australian and British literature and culture. Her books include Reading the Garden: the settlement of Australia with Katie Holmes and Kylie Mirmohamadi, (2008), Sensational Melbourne: Reading, Sensation Fiction and Lady Audley’s Secret in the Victorian Metropolis with Kylie Mirmohamadi (2011) and Colonial Dickens: What Australians Made of the World’s Favourite Writer (2012), also with Kylie Mirmohamadi.

References: Robert Dixon. Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction 1875-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995; Simpson Newland. Paving the Way [1895] London: Gay & Hancock, 1913; Andrew McCann. ‘Henry Kendall’s “Aboriginal Man”: Autochthony and Extinction in the Settler Colony’ In Modern Australian Criticism and Theory  ed. David Carter & Wang Guanlin. Quingdao: China Ocean University Press, 2010: 50-60.


Mathew, Imogen

Australian National University

‘Mainstream Aboriginal Literary Success: A Case Study’

Brigid Rooney’s Literary Activists and Adam Shoemaker’s Oodgeroo: A Tribute both position Oodgeroo Noonuccal at the centre of a densely populated network of literary friendships and political activism.  Whether the emphasis falls to one particular relationship (Rooney explores the “Public Sisterhood” shared by Judith Wright and Oodgeroo) or takes in Oodgeroo’s richly-patterned network of familial, literary, political and publishing intimacies, Rooney and Shoemaker both work to contextualise Oodgeroo on the same temporal and spatial plane.

In this paper, I bring Oodgeroo into dialogue with the highly successful, contemporary figure of Anita Heiss.  Though separated by time, the social conditions they fight (and the means by which they do so) are strikingly similar.  Both have found widespread success amongst an Australian public that David Carter has been influential in designating as the middlebrow, that large group of educated, middleclass, mainly non-Indigenous readers who consume good books as one of many lifestyle choices.  Oodgeroo and Heiss both write in a straight-talking, plain-speaking style that engages as much as it confronts with its clear political activism.  Alongside a shared preference for popular mediums, their writing traverses similar themes: both emphasise an essential humanity that cuts across segregated and misleading ideas of black versus white; their call to recognise sameness a call to heal.  In consideration of these similarities, I argue that a strong public intimacy pulls Heiss and Oodgeroo together, with Oodgeroo providing a literary legacy and model for intervention within the public sphere continued by Heiss.

Biographical note: Imogen Mathew is a doctoral candidate in Australian Literature at the Australian National University. Her research investigates Anita Heiss’ role in the Australian literary, cultural and political landscape.  In 2013 she worked as a Lecturer in Professional Military Education at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra.


Mein Smith, Professor Philippa

University of Tasmania

‘Friends, Family and Neighbours’

Dame Edna Everage’s bridesmaid, Madge, was a New Zealander. Why was this so? New Zealand often plays the role of Madge to Australia’s Dame Edna. That is because the relationships with New Zealand and New Zealanders are among the many intimacies that have moulded Australian society and culture, not always to New Zealand’s advantage. As Donald Denoon and I argue in A History of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific (Blackwell Publishers, 2000), Australian and New Zealand identities formed in interaction. Yet relations between the Tasman neighbours are often overlooked. In this paper I will revisit how trans-Tasman relationships have influenced, and continue to influence, perceptions of Australia and Australians.

New Zealand is a common comparator in Australian histories of colonialism and its legacies for settlers and indigenous people. The approach in this paper, however, will be interactive and transnational rather than comparative, in order to examine relationships. The paper will consider Australia and New Zealand as friends, family and neighbours. Themes will include trans-Tasman migration – which has fluctuated wildly since the 1970s – family networks, personal stories, and aspects of the official relationship, from federation debates and ANZAC to combined passport queues at airports and New Zealand’s involvement in COAG.

Biographical note: Philippa Mein Smith, Professor of History, joined the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania in March 2013. Her recent research focuses on the Australian-New Zealand relationship. She began as a specialist in health history, after completing her PhD in History at the ANU, and lectured at Flinders University before taking up a position at the University of Canterbury in 1992.

In 1998, she enjoyed a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation Centre in Bellagio, Italy, where she worked with Professor Donald Denoon from ANU to write A History of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific for the Blackwell History of the World series. Since then, she has been writing overview history, including A Concise History of New Zealand (Cambridge, 2005, 2nd ed 2012) and Remaking the Tasman World (2008). The latter book was a result of a grant from the New Zealand Marsden Fund received for a project entitled ‘Anzac Neighbours: 100 years of Multiple Ties between New Zealand and Australia’. Philippa established and was Director of the New Zealand Australia Research Centre at the University of Canterbury.


Moore, Dr Terry

University of Tasmania

‘Governing Australian superdiversity: Learning from the Indigenous case’

Like the UK, Europe and other settler nations, Australia is fast becoming a superdiverse society. Influenced by historical and contemporary migration, tourism, mediated culture and other transfers, minorities proliferate and enjoy multiple, simultaneous and intersecting affiliations associated with their ethnicity, religion, language, class, transnational ties and more. Though this interculturality works quite well in the everyday, the multicultural model of governance is finding its limits insofar as it encourages minority groups live parallel lives that can problematise national social cohesion.

Indigenous people are part of this transformation and exemplify the looming challenges. They are both of and not of the national population, and the same as and different from each other and other Australians. In their respect, the multicultural paradigm of governance predicated on difference—a singular category and subject—is increasingly inadequate to this reality. That paradigm has featured policies and programs that account for an ideal typical subject. Examples include ‘Aboriginal learning styles’, ‘Two Way’ schooling and health, Indigenous-specific cultural competence, representative community organisations, ‘Aboriginalisation’ and the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Such programs are now having counter-productive consequences that are arguably a result of their inadequacy to the realities of superdiversity and invitation to separatism.

In this paper I introduce some features of an intercultural paradigm of governance that is predicated on Aboriginal bothness. I indicate changes that are critical for Indigenous Australians and potentially beneficial for all Australians.

Biographical note: Terry Moore is a political sociologist. His key research interests centre on the dilemmas thrown up by superdiversity. In the first instance, he is interested in the specific dilemmas facing Indigenous Australians in their individual and collective negotiation of their increasing bothness, and the state in its management of Indigenous interests. Secondly, he is interested in the dilemmas facing the state in its management of the tensions between proliferating difference more generally and national social cohesion. Terry teaches Aboriginal Studies in the social sciences and humanities, and cultural competence for  trainees in a number of disciplines.


Nettlebeck, Professor Amanda

University of Adelaide

‘‘Away from the homes of our race’: Regulating Aboriginal presence in settler social space in colonial Australia’

Within the field of new critical imperial studies, there has been increased attention to how transitional populations were managed in colonial settings around the British Empire, and how legal instruments like vagrancy legislation could provide colonial states with the means to regulate emergent societies that were marked by high levels of migration, complexities of racial exchange, and fluctuating labour markets. In the Australian colonial context, vagrancy has received some historical attention in terms of how its regulation served in monitoring the internal strata of colonial society, in particular in controlling the undesirable social ills that were perceived to flow from a mobile ex-convict population, the gold rushes and prostitution.

However, there has been little attention to how the concepts and laws of vagrancy were applied to Aboriginal people in colonial Australia as a group that inhabited but was external to the settler social domain; indeed, the very notion of the ‘Aboriginal vagrant’ was itself subject to vacillation and ambiguity throughout the nineteenth century, for despite their formal status as subjects of the Crown, Aboriginal people were considered to be neither ‘internal’ to colonial society, nor entirely eradicable from it. This paper will consider colonial debates around the concept of the Aboriginal vagrant in the Australian colonies, and the trajectories of its legal application over the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, the notion of Aboriginal vagrancy was only seen to hold relevance within the spatial boundaries of settler social space, and it was tied to an administrative need to manage a continuing, post-dispossession Aboriginal presence in colonial society. Over time, the application of vagrancy laws to Aboriginal people reflected the shifting nature of colonial frameworks of governance, as these moved along a scale from efforts to ‘civilise’ Aboriginal people, to those to regulate their interactions with settler society and ultimately to eliminate them from view. During the era of colonial protectorates in the 1840s, the notion of the wandering vagrant could be associated with the civilising mission to make Aboriginal people ‘settle down’, but with the increasing concentration of settlement it became increasingly associated with a policing objective to make Aboriginal people disappear from settler space. By the late nineteenth century the notion of Aboriginal vagrancy had come to prefigure the twentieth century era of protectionism as one defined by principles of containment and surveillance.

Biographical note: Amanda Nettelbeck is Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide and has written widely on colonial frontier history. She is co-author with Robert Foster of Out of the Silence: the history and memory of South Australia’s frontier wars (2012), In the Name of the Law: William Willshire and the policing of the Australian frontier (2007) and Fatal Collisions (with Rick Hosking, 2001). A collaborative book project with Robert Foster, Russell Smandych and Louis Knafla, Fragile Settlements: Aboriginal peoples, law and resistance in south-west Australia and western Canada, is in progress for UBC Press. This paper connects to her 2014-2016 ARC Discovery project ‘Protection and Punishment: colonial networks and the legal reform of indigenous people in Australia’.


Piper, Dr Alana

Griffith University 

‘The Intimacies of Theft in Colonial Australia’

Between Waltzing Matilda and Ned Kelly, memories of convict ancestors and the theft of land and children from Indigenous peoples, tales of thievery dominate Australian history and culture. Yet while stealing represents one of the most pervasive forms of criminal activity, it remains an under-researched area in historical scholarship, especially in Australia.

This paper will draw on detailed inter-jurisdictional research from my current postdoctoral project to elaborate broader trends in theft in colonial Australia, and consider what this reveals about intimate relationships of the period. In examining the network of connections surrounding thieves I will discuss the way in which stealing was often predicated upon membership of particular social groups, both in terms of traditional categories of gender, race and class, and other social identities. I will also seek to foreground the experiences of victims, often the forgotten participants in analyses of theft, to develop an understanding of how the impact of stealing was mediated by victims’ relationships with their victimisers, especially in cases where the perpetrator was known to them. The destabilisation and threat that larcenous acts posed to the relationships of colonial society will thereby be addressed.

Biographical note: Alana Piper is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Griffith University, appointed as part of the ARC Laureate Project ‘Prosecution and The Criminal Trial in Australian History’. Her postdoctoral research will look at theft-related trials and issues of identity across the years 1861-1961. Alana completed her PhD at the University of Queensland in January 2014, with her thesis examining relationships between women in criminal subcultures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She has published in History Australia, Journal of Australian Studies and the Queensland Review.


Pybus, Dr Carol

University of Tasmania

‘Missionaries at Ernabella: Friends or Foes?’

Christian missionaries in Australia have been broadly assessed as ‘foes’ in relation to Aboriginal people and are criticised for being complicit in the colonial enterprise. In addition they are held largely responsible for the dysfunction at many former mission sites today.

For many Aboriginal people the missionary experience has been a defining one.  Therefore Christian missions comprise an important aspect of the debate about the history of contact between Aborigines and colonisers. The revisionist histories of contact that emerged in the latter decades of the twentieth century generally failed to look closely at missionary/Aboriginal encounters and promulgated the stereotypical and often simplistic assessment of missions and missionaries as the arch dispossessors of Aboriginal cultures and societies. Studies of individual missions such as the Presbyterian Mission at Ernabella in the far north-west of South Australia, reveal the specific and unique features of each mission that are glossed over by such generalisations.

This paper provides a succinct overview of my 2012 PhD thesis, ‘We grew up this place’: Ernabella Mission 1937-1974. It throws new light on the interface between missionaries and Aborigines at Ernabella.  In particular, it shows that the move to the mission did not result in a complete irruption to traditional life and in fact, mission policy encouraged its continuation. One of the legacies of Ernabella Mission is that Aboriginal people who grew up there embrace multi-layered approaches to spiritual life and regard the mission times and their relationship with missionaries in a positive light.

Biographical note: Carol Pybus lectures in Aboriginal Studies at the University of Tasmania. Her 2012 PhD thesis “ ‘We grew up this place’: Ernabella Mission 1937-1974”, examines the interface between Pitjantjatjara people and Presbyterian missionaries at Ernabella, South Australia. It challenges the orthodoxy that adherence to Christianity is antithetical to Pitjantjatjara traditional beliefs and identity.


Polak, Dr Iva

University of Zagreb

‘Of feathers and boundaries in Nicole Watson’s The Boundary as a post-1990s Aboriginal novel’

The aim of the paper is twofold. First, it aims at exploring the extent to which Nicole Watson’s 2009 David Unaipon Award winning novel The Boundary (2011) appropriates, extends and bends the tradition of detective fiction, detectable already in Sam Watson’s The Kadaitcha Sung (1990) and Steven McCarthy’s Black Angels – Red Blood (1998). Then, it discusses why, unlike its novelistic predecessors, the novel is not sufficiently visible on the local and global book market. Since feathers used in the aforementioned novels imply being sung (cursed) by an Aboriginal shaman/sorcerer (Berndt and Berndt, Elkin, Eliade), they will ironically be appropriated to discuss the only boundary Aboriginal novel seems to be facing today: the one separating it from a wider reading audience. The Kadaitacha Sung, Black Angels – Red Blood and The Boundary, each separated by some ten years, reflect different literary and non-literary circumstances in which they appeared. Thus, Nicole Watson’s novel shall be analysed in the context of the “expected niche of Aboriginal writing”, sporadic presence of reviews of the post-1990s Aboriginal novelistic output, literary awards (e.g. Miles Franklin Award, David Unaipon Award, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize) as a guarantee (or not) of better visibility and availability of Aboriginal novel, and in the context of the potential of Aboriginal writing in the transnational literary context (Huggan) and transnational reading frameworks (Gelder). The paper argues that too many feathers, none of the literary kind, stand in the way of better visibility of multifarious developments in the post-1990s Aboriginal novel.

Biographical note: Iva Polak (PhD) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, University of Zagreb, Croatia, where she teaches literary theory, contemporary Australian literature and film, Australian Aboriginal literature and film, historical development of literary fantasy and dystopian British fiction. She has published in Croatian and international journals, and is the author of a book on the development of Australian Aboriginal fiction (2011). She is a member of EASA and CEACS. Her current project concerns studying alternat(iv)e worlds in Aboriginal novel.


Richards, Dr Jonathan, and Professor Lyndall Ryan

University of Queensland; University of Newcastle.   

‘New South Wales Native Police 1848-1859’ 

The New South Wales Native Police Force 1848-1859 is widely considered as the precursor of the Queensland Native Police Force 1861-1895. Yet little is known of its structure and operations. This paper draws on primary and secondary sources to explore the origins, organisation and recruitment of the NSW Native Police with particular focus on their operations in the Burnett, Darling Downs, Maranoa and Moreton Bay Squatting Districts in present day southern Queensland.

The paper finds that the NSW Native Police were involved in some of the most violent episodes in Australia’s frontier history which in turn generated extraordinary incidents of Aboriginal resistance including the attack on the Native Police camp at Rannes in 1855 and the Hornet Bank massacre of 1857. The paper concludes that although the NSW Native Police Force was a precursor of the Queensland Native Police, it had important differences in its organisation and operations that sheds new light on the characteristics of frontier violence in the 1850s.

Biographical note: Lyndall Ryan is Research Professor in the Centre for the History of Violence at the University of Newcastle, Australia.  She established her long interest in colonial settler violence with the publication of her ground-breaking book, The Aboriginal Tasmanians in 1981. Her latest books, Theatres of Violence, Massacres, Mass Killings and Atrocities in History, co-edited with Philip G. Dwyer (Berghahn Books, New York, 2012) and Tasmanian Aborigines: A History since 1803 (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2012), consolidate her reputation as leading international scholar in the field.

Jonathan Richards is Adjunct Lecturer in History at the University of Queensland.  His key book, The Secret War, Queensland’s Native Police (UQP 2008) established his reputation as a leading scholar in violence studies on the Queensland colonial frontier.  With Lyndall Ryan, he currently holds an ARC grant to explore frontier violence across Australia 1788-1960.


Sloan Morgan, Jacqueline

The University of Adelaide

‘Intimate Sphere, National Project: Women Writing the Domestic Space in Nineteenth-Century Australia’

The definition of ‘domestic space’ is created by the convergence of social and physical concepts. The ‘domestic’ is a ‘space’ intricately connected with gender and cultural identities. In the colonial settlements it was a primary site for negotiations of complex imperial projects and national mentalities. In this paper I will consider the concept of the domestic space in nineteenth-century Australia through the examination of women’s writing. In my analysis I will examine the theme of ‘reshaping’ the colonial landscape with a focus on the ‘cultivation of the homestead’s wilderness’ as an extension of contested geopolitical colonial spaces. I will discuss the influence that intimate and culturally constructed domestic spaces had on concepts of gender (particularly concepts of ‘womanhood’) and emergent national identity. The analysis will be supported in text through consideration of a number of life-writings by women and conclude with a case study of the nineteenth-century South Australian novel, Marian or The Light of Some One’s Home: A Tale of Australian Bush Life by Maud Jean Franc.

Biographical note: Jacqueline Sloan Morgan is a PhD Candidate at the University of Adelaide. She completed an interdisciplinary Bachelors Degree in Canada in English and History in Art, a Masters Degree in English at the University of Sydney and went on to study language at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Jacqueline worked as a culture and heritage consultant internationally for a number of years before settling in Adelaide where she is currently undertaking her doctoral thesis, a comparative analysis of Canadian and Australian women’s settlement writing provisionally titled: Wild Hearth: Negotiating ‘Womanhood’ on the Frontiers of Australia and Canada. Her research in the field of women’s settlement literature in Canada and Australia engages with works in related areas such as colonial/post-colonial/decolonial studies, comparative literature and feminist scholarship. Jacqueline’s interdisciplinary work examines concepts of gender, national identity, national mythology, relations with nature and the intersections of these themes in literature and art.


Snoek, Tia (Kartia)

The University of Melbourne 

‘Legislating White Australia beyond the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Cth)’

Australian history can be viewed as a series of binary relationships – Aboriginal First Nations and British colonisers, free-settlers and bound-convicts, native-born residents and immigrants from across the seas.  The British colonies became the Australian states.  The states formed the nation. Under the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Cth) the nation gained control of immigration, naturalisation and the ability to make ‘special laws’ for ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race’.  The states retained control of Aboriginal affairs, education and health.  Over each of these dichotomies the shadow of the White Australia Policy passed.  This shadow, however, blocked out more than cultural pluralism in a nation built with immigration.  The implementation of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 (Cth) permitted ‘only white labour’ to ‘be employed in’ the ‘carriage of mails’.[2]  Under the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Cth) Aboriginal men, and some Aboriginal women who had previously voted in elections in certain colonies prior to Federation lost the franchise, as did residents from Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands (excepting New Zealand).[3]  Many of these residents were granted colonial certificates of naturalisation, after Federation the Naturalization Act 1903 (Cth) prevented them from becoming naturalised British subjects.[4]  A series of Sugar Bounty Acts, first enacted in 1903, paid government money for sugar cane or beet grown solely on ‘white’ plantations, utilising only ‘white’ labour.[5]  In 1908 Australia’s first act relating to social welfare denied people born in Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands (including New Zealand), as well as Aboriginal Australians the invalid and old-age pension.[6]  This paper argues that these pieces of federal legislation extended the concept of a white Australia beyond a policy of immigration and exclusion.  The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (Cth) clearly formed the bedrock of the White Australia Policy in an immigration sense, and draconian legislation discriminated against and controlled the lives of Aboriginal Australians in the States and Territories, however the role of federal legislation as a tool which strengthened, promoted and upheld the White Australia Policy is less clearly understood.  This paper attempts to address this gap in understanding through the exploration of federal legislation and case law, concluding that both worked to create a system of preferential citizenship, privileging the ‘white’ citizen.

Biographical note: Kartia Snoek is currently completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne which explores legal interpretations of the ‘Australian citizen’, focusing on the place and role of federal legislation like the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, and the Invalid and Old-Age Pension Act 1908.  She argues that these acts assisted in the creation of a tiered system of citizenship, which favoured white, usually British, subjects over Aboriginal people and immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.


Tuggle, Dr Lindsay

University of Sydney

‘‘Unseen Friends’: Walt Whitman, Bernard O’Dowd and Transpacific Intimacy’

This paper examines Walt Whitman’s transpacific celebrity through the lens of one of his most fervent disciples: the Australian poet and radical activist Bernard O’Dowd.

Grounded in archival exploration of the Melbourne Whitman Society, founded by O’Dowd (circa 1889), this project analyses Whitman’s antipodean afterlives through the eyes of a community of his Australian readers. My analysis centers around the untold story of a strange relic, which symbolizes the reverential culture of transpacific intimacy that characterized the O’Dowd – Whitman correspondence. From 1889 until his death in 1892, Whitman sent O’Dowd twelve letters, eight volumes of his poetry, several photographs and newspaper clippings.  In order to house these treasured objects, O’Dowd commissioned a special cabinet, constructed by a local carpenter.  The structure was designed, according to O’Dowd’s specifications, to survive fire and to withstand the impact of a fall from a two-story window.  Its shelves were perfectly spaced to suit the measurements of Whitman’s volumes.  The cabinet succeeded in preserving these artifacts for well over a century.  The case and its contents now reside in the State Library of Victoria.  I interrogate this object (commissioned shortly after Whitman’s death) as an act of legacy creation: a literary tomb designed to ensure the cross-pollination of canonization.

This proposal is the result of archival research conducted at the State Library of Victoria, the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Library of Congress.  My research addresses a critical gap in current scholarship, which has yet to explore Whitman’s Australian legacy.  In spite of recent interest in the phenomenon of literary celebrity and the culture of Whitman worship in friendship with O’Dowd established a network of Australian disciples that was integral to the cultivation of his international celebrity.

Biographical note: Lindsay Tuggle is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Writing Hub.  She recently concluded a Kluge Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Library of Congress in support of archival research underpinning her first book, The Afterlives of Specimens: Science and Mourning in Whitman’s America. Through the evolution of Walt Whitman’s poetry and prose, this book explores the historical moment of convergence at which the human cadaver is both lost love object and subject of anatomical violence. Her research examines Whitman’s role in shifting cultural understandings of the body as an object of posthumous discovery and desire.


Turnbull, Professor Paul

University of Tasmania 

‘Weather and Environmental Knowledge in a Multicultural Landscape’

In late 2012, we began investigating the cultural and historical dimensions of community resilience to extreme weather such as cyclones and monsoonal flooding in northern coastal Queensland. The geographical focus of our research is the coastal plain between the Cardwell Range and the town of Tully some forty-four kilometers northwards. The plain lies in the southern wet tropics region of coastal North Queensland, where monsoonal rains frequently cause severe flooding of the Murray and Tully rivers through complex network of creeks and lagoons. For thousands of years the region has also regularly experienced cyclones of varying severity during the annual monsoonal season.

As in other parts of Australia, Indigenous people (Girramay, Jirrbal and Djiru) developed subsistence economies and lifestyles suited to these environmental conditions.  They also experienced drastic changes after colonial settlement began in the mid-1860s, leading to the clearing of rainforest for cattle farming and intensive agriculture of the region’s tropical soils.

As Henry Reynolds and other historians have shown, the history of North Queensland’s colonial settlement has been one of remarkable ethnic diversity.  The first seventy or so years of settlement were marked by frontier violence and prejudices reflective of contemporary notions of racial difference. Since the 1960s, however, the region has been characterised by peaceful social interactions, cooperation and communication across various ethnic and cultural boundaries.

Knowledge of the local ecology and weather, including the ability to predict heavy rains and cyclones and their effects on the environment, and suitable coping strategies, were necessary survival skills for Girramay, Jirrbal and Djiru people. Settlers were confronted with the need to learn about their new environment, and to develop strategies of adaptation. As we will discuss in this paper, they learnt much of practical value from the region’s traditional owners.

However, as we will also discuss in this paper the social dynamics, different histories and cultural outlooks of the region’s ethnically diverse population have also shaped perceptions of the local environment. We question whether they have yet gained the consideration they deserve in the development of policies and strategies aimed at enhancing community resilience to what looks likely to be increasingly severe extreme weather events.

Biographical note: Paul Turnbull is Professor of Digital Humanities at University of Tasmania, and honorary professor of history at University of Queensland. His recent publications include the co-edited volume, The Long Way Home: the Meanings and Values of Repatriation (Berghahn, 2011).  Paul is completing a book on the history of the theft and scientific uses of the ancestral bodily remains of Indigenous Australians from scientific collections. Current research projects include a study in collaboration with Gabriele Weichart and Jonathan Richards of the historical and cultural dimensions of resilience to extreme weather in the southern wet tropics region of North Queensland.  See Richards, Jonathan and Weichart, Gabriele for further biographical information.


Weichart, Dr Gabriele

University of Vienna

‘‘Home and Away’: The Austrian Experience in Late 20th Century Australia’

The paper is based on a biographical research project which started in early 2014 and deals with Austrian migration in the second half of the 20th century. The main body of data has been collected through biographical interviews with Austrian citizens who emigrated between the 1960s and 2000s and returned years later. These narratives provide information about the broader socio-economical contexts of migration and integration, as well as about circumstances and agency that lead to individual experiences and decisions in different social and cultural environments.

The proposed paper focuses on the particular situations and experiences of Austrian migrants in Australia. By comparing selected case studies and drawing on theoretically informed discourses in migration studies, I will present and discuss relevant issues such as integration, social relationships and the notion of “home”. As some interview partners returned from Australia already several decades ago, I will also critically examine the methodological problem of oral history as a valuable and reliable source of data collection.

Biographical note: Dr Gabriele Weichart is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. She has carried out research involving long periods of fieldwork in Australia (Central Australia and Queensland) and Indonesia (Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi).  She has investigated and written on a wide range of topics including art and architecture, food habits and feasting, and disaster and resilience. Currently she is engaged in a project investigating Austrian migration in the second half of the 20th century.

Gabriele was a board member of the European Association for South East Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) and the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) for many years. She currently holds the position of Secretary General of the Austrian-Australian Society (AAS). She is a co-editor of Australien: Geschichte und Gesellschaft 18. bis 21. Jahrhundert (2013), Religious Dynamics in the Pacific (2010),  Constructing the Future – Remembering the Past: Houses and Architecture in Southeast Asia (2007) and  Food Chains: Eating, drinking, feeding – framing social relations (2007).


Xia Fang

University of Tasmania

‘Re-Reading Autobiographies of the Chinese Diaspora’

This paper adopts the inaugural meaning of the notion of ‘autobiography,’ rendered by its Greek components auto/bio/graphy. When created at the end of the eighteenth century, it was used as a category of three types of self-life-writing publication: confession—form of one’ self-examination, apology—form of explanation and justification of one’s beliefs, and memoir—form of one’s recollections of significant events that the person involved in, or witnessed (Goodwin, 1993:1-8). Growing out of the debates around content quality in the 1990s, the later term ‘life-writing’ steers away from controversies, but also misses ‘self,’ a key element. In comparison, the reverted definition of ‘autobiography’ is more inclusive and thus adopted here. It is loosely defined as ‘one’s life story written by this person.’

China is very important for Australia as a trading partner, as a source of tourists, and a provider of ‘international’ students to a cash-strapped education system. It is also increasingly a tourist destination for Australians. The sociocultural and sociohistorical knowledge that many Australians have of China is gained through reading autobiographies by the Chinese diaspora. Can these autobiographies provide a reliable account about China?

This paper examines the English autobiographies published since the 1980s in the US, UK and Australia, written by the Chinese diaspora from mainland China. It finds there is a generic quality to these texts, emphasizing trauma, oppression of the citizenry, thwarted ambition, persecution, injustice and exile. The paper argues that firstly, more than the product of a common life experience, the similarity between the texts is also indicative of the consumptive taste of western readership.

Secondly, the authors indulge in the description of personal sufferings, decontextualize their life stories, and sentimentally interpret their misfortune. They fictionalize their autobiographies. Thirdly, the texts embody the dilemma of cultural identification in diasporic context. The authors adjust their identities consciously or unconsciously so as to fit into the western cultural framework, and at the same time project western values to China. The particular subjective view conveyed by these texts contributes to the ambivalent understanding of China among contemporary Australians, as both needed ‘friend’ in an economic sense, but ‘foe’ in terms of Chinese history and culture. The paper concludes that these autobiographies do not provide a reliable account of China. Despite the ostensible authenticity of the genre, autobiography is subjective, the life story told constructed from selected narrative, transplanted interpretation of life experience, and appeals to the commercial market.

Biographical note: Xia Fang is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tasmania.


Professor Wuyang Zhuo

Xihua University, China

‘Communications and Cooperation Make Progresses: Research and Practical activities in the Australia Studies Center, Xihua University, Sichuan Province’

The Australian Studies CenterXihua UniversitySichuan Province  is one of the regional key research base in Sichuan province. Established in October 2007 and located in Xihua University, the center initially studied on Australian literature and culture, especially focusing on Australian women literature. In May 2013, the center was assigned to be a provincial research center. The evolution was supposed to meet the regional ‘go global’ strategy, and the center is supported by both Xihua University and the Department of Education of Sichuan Province. Since the center’s evolution, the view has been expanded. At present, research programs in the center are under the cooperation from different disciplines, especially arts, humanities, and social science, involuntarily with the participation of several Colleges. We focus on the regional communications and cooperations in the fields of economics, trade, culture, education, the arts, law, social services, and public administration, between China and Australia, from Sichuan province to the counterparts in Australia. The research emphasize on application, aiming to provide references and advice for local government, enterprises, and other institutions. The studies can be divided into two fields: Austral­ian literature and culture, and social comprehensive application research. In literature and culture, we have already made some achievements, such as the monograph ‘Research on the history of Australian women’s novels’. In addition we conduct research on Australian authors such as Helen Garner and Elizabeth Jolley. In social comprehensive research, the ongoing programs focus on bilateral economic and trade exchanges, tourism, and social management. In recent years, the center has boosted a series of Australia-China Communications. For example, a series of exchanges and cooperation with Australian Consulate-General Chengdu, China, since the consul general Ms Nancy Gordon visited the Center in 2013; granted as the designated host for Week of Australian Writers since 2008; held the 13th International Conference on Australian Studies ‘Globalization and Imagination’ in Xihua University on July, 2012; the cooperation between Xihua University and RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) University in the field of database sharing and the upcoming educational or research programs.

Biographical note: Dr Wuyang Zhuo is a Professor of Economics, the Dean of School of Economics and Trade, Xihua University, China. His research interests focus on the interdisciplinary study on finance and regulations, particularly on financial markets laws, risks and regulations. He has published more than 30 papers in this field, and written 3 books.


Associate Professor Xing Chunli

Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 

‘The Relationship between Whiteness and Indigeneity in The Secret River and Carpentaria’

This paper mainly focuses on two novels with the Australian Aboriginal-white relationship as one of their major themes. One is The Secret River (2005) by the non-indigenous writer Kate Grenville, and the other is Carpentaria (2006) by the indigenous novelist Alexis Wright.  Drawing on the theories of critical whiteness studies and postcolonial studies, this paper compares the discursive strategies and narrative devices the authors have adopted to represent the concept of whiteness and indigeneity, one from the European settlers’ point of view, the other from the standpoint of the Aboriginal people.

In The Secret River, Grenville resorts to the genre of historical novel as a way of reconciling the past. She attempts to reconcile her own convict ancestor’s implication in acts of Indigenous dispossession and reconfigures whiteness through her characterisation of William Thornhill. Although the racialised stereotypes of the Aboriginal people are repeatedly challenged with William Thornhill’s deeper understanding of the ecological environment and his observations of the relationship between the Aboriginal people and the land, the double perspective cannot disguise the moral ambiguity of settler identity which is mixed with guilt and complicity.

In Carpentaria, Alexis Wright defamiliarises the concept of whiteness and rejects a narrow, essentialist categorization of the Aboriginal people. Set in a narrative related to the oral tradition, the novel challenges the generally accepted linear structure of time and abounds in interactions of Aboriginal people with the land and their ancestors. The stories related in the novel span thousands of years of Aboriginal history and give voice to Aboriginal cosmology and the laws and protocols of the land. Wright attempts to rewrite a history which has erased the Aboriginal presence and to disclose the hegemonic power structure of whiteness. The internal conflicts between different clans of the Aboriginal people have also been depicted and delved into.

In conclusion, a comparison of the indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives in these two novels provides a full picture of the Aboriginal-white relationship in Australia. By revisiting the sensitive moment in Australian history and discussing current issues concerning Aboriginal sovereignty and the relationship between settler and indigene, literature serves as a reflexive site on which the position of the Aboriginal people is highlighted, leading Australia into a multi-cultural future.

Biographical note: Xing Chunli is an associate professor in the School of Foreign Languages, Beihang University and a PhD candidate in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Tsinghua University. Her major research interests include postcolonialism, postmodernism, new historicism, critical whiteness studies, Australian literature and Aboriginal literature in Australia. Her articles have appeared in Oceanic Literature Studies and Australian Cultural Studies.


Xu Daozhi

University of Hong Kong

‘Transformation, Collaboration, and Authorial Control in the Paratexts of Indigenous Children’s Literature’

This paper intends to explore the critical function of the paratext that inscribes literary legitimation and value production in indigenous children’s books. The paratext refers to the heterogeneous devices such as a title, a preface, front/back covers, which not only serve to frame the narratives into a book, but also affirm and justify the value of the text. The institutional endorsement transmitted through the paratext (e.g. a scholarly foreword, an award sticker, the blurb written by a renowned columnist) often simultaneously consecrates the indigenous writers and compromises the anti-colonial themes of their writings. Partially with the efforts of Aboriginal independent publishers, however, the paratext begins to be transformed into a territory where indigenous writers manage to insinuate their authorial control by re-investing indigenous perspectives and authorial practices, and to present their works to a wider, multicultural Australian public, as well as an international readership. It is in this vein that indigenous authors may possibly free themselves from the racial dichotomy between whites and Aborigines within the boundary of Australia. Here I am going to read the two editions of Arone Raymond Meeks’ awarded picture book Enora and the Black Crane, published by Ashton Scholastic in 1991 and Magabala Books in 2009 respectively, by examining how the dominant regime of value production mediates the Aboriginal text to a white readership and how indigenous authors and publishers seek to transform the paratextual space by reorienting the very cultural capital accrued through the institutional legitimation for their own use. I will also read Bronwyn Bancroft’s Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words (2008), in order to examine the ways through which indigenous authors identify the marginalized paratext as a vehicle to address their collaborative voices to a cross-cultural and foreign readership.

Biographical note: Xu Daozhi is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Hong Kong. Her dissertation focuses on the postcolonial narratives in post-Mabo Australian children’s literature. Her research interests also include graphic novels, cross-cultural engagement, poetry translation and the theory of gift. During her postgraduate study for the MA degree, she was a member of Australian Studies Center at Renmin University in Beijing, China. She was awarded a research grant from the Australia-China Council under the Australian Studies 2012-2013 Competitive Projects Funding Scheme.

[1] “Former Australian of the Year and Chinese Refugee Hits out at Immigration Policy,” AM News (hosted by Chris Uhlmann), Saturday 10 May, 2014, and reported by Will Ockenden, on ABC website, available at: Accessed 10 May, 2014.

[2] Post and Telegraph Act 1901 (Cth), s 16(1).

[3] Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Cth), s 4.

[4] Naturalization Act 1903 (Cth), s 5.

[5] Sugar Bounty Act 1903 (Cth); Sugar Bounty Act 1905 (Cth); Sugar Bounty Act Amendments 1910 (Cth); Sugar Bounty Act 1913 (Cth).

[6] Invalid and Old-Age Pension Act, ss 16(1) and 21(1).

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