Category Archives: Book

Writing for research | Raewyn Connell

A wonderful act of scholarly generosity by Raewyn Connell:

We have just produced a written version of my workshop for early career researchers called “Writing for Research”.  It discusses the nature of writing, research journals and how they operate, writing programmes, and related questions.  It has a practical section on how to write a journal article, and a list of resources.  It also has pretty pictures and some solid ideas about the social character of knowledge and the situation of knowledge workers.

Source: Writing for research | Raewyn Connell

Dependencia Académica y Profesionalización en el Sur | SEPHIS

You can download this important new publication (in Spanish):

Desde 1960, se reconoce la presencia de una estructura internacional desigual en la producción y circulación del conocimiento en el sistema científico internacional, fenómeno que se ha denominado dependencia académica. Esta realidad motivó acciones para promover la formación de cuadros científicos y estimular el vínculo entre instituciones y académicos de la periferia. Esto, teniendo en cuenta que las estructuras de producción de conocimiento de la periferia se veían comprometidas por el colonialismo y sus efectos perdurables.

Source: Dependencia Académica y Profesionalización en el Sur | SEPHIS

Architecture for Indigenous Cultures: Australia and Beyond

McGaw, Janet, and Anoma Pieris. 2014. Assembling the Centre: Architecture for Indigenous Cultures: Australia and Beyond. 1 edition. New York: Routledge.

Series: Routledge Research in Architecture

A new book looks at issues around the architecture of Indigenous cultural centres. It confronts the challenge of de-colonising architecture through a methodology of mutual engagement. This includes discussion of the possum-skin cloak, which has been used by members of the Kulin nation in south-east Australia as a way of representing the gathering of communities. This form of mapping is related to the Deluezian concept of striated representation of space.

Below is the opening of the chapter ‘Skin’ (pp. 152-3) which discusses this form of representation:

Over the past century the expressive potential of the material and tectonic qualities of architecture has in many ways been superseded by the repre – sentational opportunities of the surface (Leatherbarrow and Mostafavi 2002, p. 8). The development of the free façade with the Monadnock Building in Chicago 1891 liberated the surface from its structure, but subsequent structural innovations with tensile fabrics, pre-stressed concrete shells and, more recently, the integration of generative digital software with industrial production, have allowed architects to dispense with orthogonal order as well. The emergence of complexity theories in mathematics and increasingly sophisticated computer intelligence have been critical enablers of this archi – tectural turn since the late the twentieth century. Digital design tools have become generative rather than simply representational, enabling a com – plexity previously associated with craft to be reproduced at a grand scale. Many but not all of these innovations have been aesthetically motivated.

At the same time, a parallel architectural discourse influenced by post – structural literary and feminist theory (by scholars such as Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous), has called into question other aspects of the surface. Architectural theorists and philos ophers Elizabeth Diller, Jennifer Bloomer, Elizabeth Grosz and others, have challenged architecture to consider the inscriptive practices perpetuated by a male-dominated profession on the gendered body. Their work drew out similarities between architectural and urban surfaces and bodily skins. The third wave of feminist discourse, through the work of bell hooks, Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Trinh T. Minh-ha has extended the critique to include other ‘minored’ bodies. Relatively few Indigenous cultural centre designs have been informed by these critiques, and yet Indigenous place-making practices have a long-standing relationship with surfaces – both ancient and modern.
We chose the term ‘skin’ – a term commonly substituted with ‘surface’ in architectural discourse – to frame our discussion for its more immediate bodily connotations. Interestingly, skins are at once material and expressive surfaces, a site of inscription and marking. As a vehicle for assembling and

stabilising social identity, the skin has a significant history. In this chapter, we explore the importance of skin as a site of place-making through three historic periods. The connections between inscriptive practices and Storyplaces in pre-colonial Indigenous culture are addressed first. We argue that painting, etching, and other kinds of surface markings in pre-colonial culture were not purely decorative; they had particular symbolic content that some scholars have likened to text. However, we prefer the term ‘(s)crypts’ coined by Jennifer Bloomer, as it alludes to writing (script) that has both spatial (crypt-like) and enigmatic (encrypted) qualities, about Stories that are often sacred (scriptural) (Bloomer 1993).

During the colonial period, new motifs were introduced. The rock art of this period – an early graffiti written over Story-places – reveals the social upheaval that took place as a result of colonisation. The moment of colon – isation signals a process of de-territorialisation enacted through a range of bodily inscriptions by settlers and instituted by the colonial authorities. Thus, the social and physical bodies of Indigenous people were transformed: tradi tional possum skin cloaks were replaced with Western clothes and woollen blankets; initiation ceremonies involving scarification were abruptly ceased; the protective surfaces of ethno-architecture were replaced with institutional buildings. Western garb and architecture became new ‘skins’ that de-territorialised Indigenous social identity. Contemporary Indigenous artists’ responses to these inscriptions include new expressions on the surfaces of the city and the body. They range from the overt, such as stencil, street and body art, to the covert, such as enigmatic inscriptions that retain secret knowledges. Alongside Indigenous voices in this chapter, we include images of surfaces, (sc)rypts and other inscriptions by Indigenous artists. We ask how knowledge of these contemporary practices of re-territorialising Indigenous identity through surface markings might inform a new practice of making Indigenous cultural centres. In particular, we consider how attending to the specificities of Indigenous surface inscriptions might lead Indigenous cultural centre design to eschew aesthetics in favour of politics.

This chapter considers two case studies that do display an overt interest in the surface. The first is international: the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel, incorporates a vertical garden on its exterior skin, thus melding living and constructed environments into the fabric of an architecture that explores material innovation in cladding design. However, the Musée du Quai Branly has also been widely critiqued for its application of Indigenous artwork to its interior surfaces as a decorative tool, without reference to the artworks’ cultural contexts or the practices of inscription from which they arise. The second case study is Australian. The National Museum of Australia, Canberra, designed by ARM is a building that engages productively with formal and inscriptive possibilities of the surface to critically challenge political orthodoxies. However, it has also been critiqued as ‘populist’.

Launch of Thinking the Antipodes by Peter Beilharz

Thinking the Antipodes: Australian Essays

By Peter Beilharz

To be launched by Nikos Papastergiadis at 7pm on 9 March, 2015

Greek Centre, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Mezzanine level

Please RSVP to Monash University Publishing at by 4 March Co-sponsored by The Greek Centre, Melbourne, and the Thesis Eleven Centre, La Trobe University

In 1956 Bernard smith wrote that we in Australia were migratory birds. This was to become a leading motif of his own thinking, and a significant inspiration for sociologist peter Beilharz. Beilharz came to argue that the idea of the antipodes made sense less in its geographical than its cultural form, viewed as a relation rather than a place. Australians had one foot here and one there, whichever ‘there’ this was. This way of thinking with and after Bernard smith makes up one current of Beilharz’s best Australian essays.

Two other streams contribute to the collection. The second recovers and publicises antipodean intellectuals, from Childe to Evatt to Stretton to Jean Martin, who have often been overshadowed here by the reception given to metropolitan celebrity thinkers; and examines others, like Hughes and Carey, who have been celebrated as writers more than as interpreters of the antipodean condition.

The third stream engages with mainstream views of Australian writing, and with the limits of these views. if we think in terms of cultural traffic, then the stories we tell about Australia will also be global and regional in a broader sense. Australia is the result of cultural traffic, local and global.

The Spirit of the Laws in Mozambique: Juan Obarrio

Mozambique has been hailed as a success story by the international community, which has watched it evolve through a series of violent political upheavals: from colonialism, through socialism, to its current democracy. As Juan Obarrio shows, however, this view neglects a crucial element in Mozambique’s transition to the rule of law: the reestablishment of traditional chieftainship and customs entangled within a history of colonial violence and civil war. Drawing on extensive historical records and ethnographic fieldwork, he examines the role of customary law in Mozambique to ask a larger question: what is the place of law in the neoliberal era, in which the juridical and the economic are deeply intertwined in an ongoing state of structural adjustment?

The Spirit of the Laws in Mozambique: Juan Obarrio.

Borderlands – design goes south



How can southern thinking be applied in everyday life? A new publication points towards a new kind of design that might be practiced in the South.
Tony Fry has pioneered a philosophical approach to design, with reference particularly ontological questions of being. With Anne Marie Willis he edited Design Philosophy Papers, which provided a forum for questions of sustainability that went beyond better light bulbs. Fry’s books including the trilogy Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics, and New Practice (2009), Design as Politics (2011) and Becoming Human by Design (2012) offer profound insights into the nature of what it is to design in the world. They articulate the practice of ‘sustainment’ as a means of ‘futuring’ a world. Practical extension of this include reductive design, which seeks to eliminate the affordances for consumption that capitalist design has accumulated.
Until recently, Fry has headed the Masters of Design Futures at Griffith University. With colleague Eleni Kalantidou, he has just published a collection of essays Design in the Borderlands that extend the question of design into a southern context. A key concept is Walter Mignolo’s ‘border thinking’. As they define it, ‘By implication, border thinking breaks out of disciplinary boundaries; it crosses borders, is nomadic, as such it is:  a thinking along, within and about borders rather than a thinking of them.’ Within this framework, the volume includes a refreshingly cosmopolitan approach to design.

Chapters consider what design means in different cultural contexts. Perera and Gillet seek to go beyond the colonial school of Lusotropicalism in African design to consider local practices, such as Luanda’s taxi system. Fry’s own chapter on East Timor champions the embedded knowledge in traditional crafts otherwise eclipsed by the technologies brought in by Western specialists.

From the Middle East, Samer Akkach considers the various ways that design can be understood in an Arabic context. He elaborates the concept of ‘sana’ associated with craftsmanship and its eventual replacement by ‘tasmin’ which associates design with an elite skill influenced by Western models.

To extend this approach to political action, Paul James presents a manifesto of urban design from an ontological perspective. This includes principles of action such as ‘Urban settlements should come to terms with the uncomfortable intersections of identity and difference:’

Design in the Borderlines is an essential link between southern theory and design. It offers the conceptual architecture necessary to connect pluralist epistemology with the practice of design across the South.

Can it be applied in the South? This presents a significant challenge. Its publication reminds us how much more there is to be done. There are many more steps necessary before we can get beyond design philosophy to the practical business of design in the ground, including the concrete ethics of relations between designers and their world.

Echoing Raewynn Connell’s call in Southern Theory for a ‘dirty theory’, we need to hit the road to work out how a new design approach might intersect with daily life. Design in the Borderlines is resolutely anti-development in its crude capitalist sense. Yet there may be situations where local communities might resist a call to return to their craft roots. There needs to be dialogue between the practical aspirations of communities in the South and the political values common in southern thinking. The issue of neo-extractivism in Bolivia is an example of this kind of debate. While Design in the Borderlands is an excellent platform, a dialogical approach seems important to reflect the multilateral nature of the South.

Kalantidou, E & Fry, T 2014, Design in the Borderlands 1 edition., Routledge, New York, NY.