Tag Archives: Australia

Dreaming of islands


Dreaming of islands—whether with joy or fear, it doesn’t matter—is dreaming of pulling away, of being already separate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone—or it is dreaming of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew.

Gilles Deleuze

Our new issue of LiNQ considers the theme of islands, both metaphorical and real.  Deleuze’s contemplation of islands is just one view—and a Western and Northern Hemisphere one at that.  Southern islands, both in the South Pacific, in South East Asia, and connected to this island continent need not be part of this frame. Joanna Murray-Smith, Dorothy Cottrell, E.J. Banefield, Randolph Stow, Oodgeroo Noonuccal are writers all linked powerfully in the public imagination with particular islands.  There are many hundreds of islands central to our region in the archipelago of the Great Barrier Reef alone. 

The point of departure for this issue will be the environmental writings of Vance and Nettie Palmer and their writings about Green Island. Their nine-month sojourn became a search to understand the meaning of the island, as well as the surrounding reef and its relationship to the sea—for all those who inhabited and used that region.  For the Palmers, the search to understand was deeply connected to the search for words and ways to write about it. Nettie’s poetic lyricism of modernism offered a form to entice the reader, then.  How do we write islands, now?  Memoir, autobiography, eco-writing, and travel are just a few modes that some writers use when they consider islands. 

LiNQ calls for academic submissions that address Island Writing/ Writing Islands in its range of meanings, discussing literature and/or culture, present or past, with preference given to the Antipodean North: North Queensland, the archipelago of the Great Barrier Reef, the Pacific this side the Equator. Similarly, LiNQ is seeking poetic, fictional, and creative non-fiction treatments of islands from the evocation of a numinous island landscapes to the enduring effect of landscape, history, culture.

Dr Deborah Jordan of the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland, will serve as guest editor of the special issue.  
Submit manuscripts to
Email:          d.jordan@uq.edu.au
Or through our submission portal on the LiNQ website.

Articles must be no longer than 6000 words.  Include a brief abstract of the article or creative submission (no more than 75 words) and a 50-word biographical note. Reviews are also welcome.  Follow MLA citation style and format.  All contributions should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file, double-spaced in 12 point font.  All images must be used by permission only.    
SUBMISSIONS CLOSE ON  AUGUST 30, 2010 for Issue 27 December 2010.

Islands and Archipelagos: Mapping Contemporary Art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific

A talk by Francis Maravillas

Wednesday, 12 May, 12-2, TfC Bagel, UTS Building 3, Room 4.02.

Abstract: In its six iterations since 1993, the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art has established itself as the premier ‘international exhibition’ that focuses on the diverse artistic cultures of the region. Significantly, these Triennials also offered a powerful and proleptic image of Australia’s place in the region, one that accented Australia’s desire for such a place. This paper seeks bring into relief the cartographic dispositions and representational logic underlying the Asia-Pacific Triennial’s curatorial imaginary. I argue that the curatorial agency and imaginary of the Triennial is constituted by the way it positions itself within wider cultural, geographical, and epistemic frames of reference. From this perspective, the Triennial’s engagement with the contemporary artistic cultures of ‘Asia’ and ‘the Pacific’ represents an attempt by the Australian subject to come to terms with its decentred positionality – that is, its peculiar experience of being located ‘South of the West’– by re-positioning itself, via strategic alignments along the periphery, as a cultural-artistic centre in the region, the putative centricity of which is defined by the space of invisible liminality marked by the hyphen that connects ‘Asia’ and the ‘Pacific’. 

Francis Maravillas completed his PhD in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, where he teaches cultural studies. His current research interests include contemporary art and visual culture in Asia and Australia, curatorial practice and international art exhibitions. His work on Asian art in Australia appears in various journals as well as recent edited collections including Crossing cultures: conflict, migration and convergence (2009), Cosmopatriots: On Distant Belongings and Close Encounters (2007) and In the Eye of the Beholder Reception and Audience for Modern Asian Art (2006). He was previously a board member of the Asia Australia Art Centre (Gallery 4a) Sydney (2003-2006).

Please RSVP to Transforming.Cultures@uts.edu.au

Paul Carter on Dry Thinking

On a crisp autumn night, Paul Carter presented a paper on ‘dry thinking’ as a contribution to the Southern Perspectives series. There was a complex North-South dynamic at play in Carter’s talk. Although published in German, Carter’s paper had never before been presented in English before. And although invoking the broad trajectory of Western philosophy, it offered a view from a country in a radically different zone – Australia.

Carter’s talk provided an opportunity to respond to the challenge laid down by Raewyn Connell regarding the geopolitics on knowledge. What kind conceptual thinking might embrace the experience of living in country like Australia? It is hard to think of anyone in Australia who is better fit for this challenge than Paul Carter.



Carter has been able to combine a career both as a writer and ‘place maker’. His 1987 seminal contribution to Australian historiography Road to Botany Bay will be republished this year. Since that book, he has produced a series of publications that uncover a broader poetic context for inhabited space. His most recent Dark Writing, published by the Institute of Postcolonial Studies last year, develops the link between his thinking and the challenge of designing public space. University of Western Australia is about to publish his next book, Groundtruthing.

In this talk, Carter considered the use of water as a metaphor by thinkers in the European tradition. This offered a critique of the way water has been consistently problematised as a symbol of doubt and confusion, by contrast with the ‘dry thinking’ that subscribes to fixed distinctions. But Carter’s talk went beyond this in critiquing metaphorical thinking per se as a form of abstraction that denies relation to place. So Carter speculated on which river it was that Heraclitus thought we could not step into twice. He contrasted the gridded landscape around Descartes with the variegated nature within which Vico wrote. In painting these scenes, Carter seemed to take an almost cinematic approach to thinking, considering its ‘scene’ in the specific time and place of its emergence.

There was some discussion about the relationship between Carter’s grounding methodology and the determinist theories of geography by writers such as Montesquieu and the German Romantics. For Carter it seems more a matter of poetic interpretation as thinkers reflected on the world around them:

Look out through the porticos of the Stoa and, in Australia at least, the bush is burning. It makes little sense to praise the potentiality of democratic communities lying in wait when drought drives the pioneers of the plough from the land, or when deforestation removes their shelter. The philosophical Ilyssus, whose flowing has always hitherto licensed philosophers to dream of composing music – visions akin to poetry’s – has, at least in the south, dried up. 

There seemed room there for the kind of move characteristic of the existentialism of Sartre. Here the individual is seen to seize responsibility to create a project that responds to their immediate political situation.

One obvious challenge arising from Carter’s thought is to consider how his methodology might be applied to other locations outside the familiar scenes of Western thought. What ideas like under the shadow of the Andes or on an atoll? How might this be extended beyond landscape to engage with the layers of political history that inform a sense of place?


Paul Carter ‘Dry Thinking and Human Futures’





An opportunity to hear one of Australia’s leading thinkers reflect on the philosophical challenges of living in a recalcitrant environment:

Australia’s natural water body is, as it were, too humid to be relied upon. It spreads out and refuses to solidise. It collects in billabongs and necklaces of ponds that do not communicate with one another, and cannot be accumulated.

Alongside the desiccation of parts of the planet, thinking also grows drier. Instrumental reasoning not only fails to imagine the reciprocities that inform living human and non-human regions – and their exchange – but actively inhibits a capacity to narrate these. In effect, the disparagement of concrete thinking mediated through metaphors of all kinds is a leaching of language that directly impoverishes the physical and the psychic domain.
Paul Carter is Professor of Creative Place Research at Deakin University. His book Dark Writing: geography, performance, design was published in the Institute’s Writing Past Colonialism series in 2009. His new book is entitled Ground Truthing: Explorations in a Creative Region.

Event details :

Paul Carter ‘Dry Thinking and Human Futures’
Thursday 29 April 2010, 7:30-9:00pm
Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne (map)
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members

The Brazilian paradox in Australia

Last night, Brazilian academic and curator Ilana Goldstein explored the Brazilian paradox in the second talk of the Southern Perspectives series. How can a country that embraces racial mixing fail to support Indigenous arts? Why is it that a country like Australia, that takes whiteness as a norm, puts so many resources into developing indigenous creative industries?

Goldstein provoked much discussion. Philip Morrissey, Director of the Indigenous Studies major at Melbourne University, showed great interest in the utopian nature of Brazilian nationalism, but remarked that the Australian model can be seen by some as a form of cultural dispossession. The visiting South African artist Zanela Muhole suggested that this discussion show widen to include the state of indigenous arts in countries like her own.

Here is Ilana Goldstein, anticipating and reflecting on her talk:

Goldstein is founding editor of the journal Proa.

Ilana Goldstein talks about what Brazil might learn from Australian Indigenous arts

Wauja woven mask

Wauja woven mask

Looking from outside, Australia has been extraordinarily successful in developing an Indigenous cultural industry. This is particularly evident in painting, but is also present in other areas – craft, dance, film and music.

The situation is different in many other countries of the South. The regional cultures of Africa, Pacific and Latin America are quite rich, but the role of Indigenous artists is more marginal than in Australia. There are extremely few Indigenous artists exhibiting their work in Brazil. There are no Mapuche professional dance troupes in Chile. There no school of Khoi-San desert painting in South Africa.

Does the experience of Indigenous arts in Australia have something to offer other countries of the South? And what might these other countries have to give in return? What would be the best means of setting up this kind of exchange? How might this exchange further develop Indigenous arts in Australia? How does a southern exchange differ from the profiling of Indigenous art in centres such as the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris?

The session will explore these questions with a visiting academic from São Paulo, Brazil – Ilana Goldstein. Goldstein is in Australia with the task of understanding how the Australian model might be applied to Indigenous communities in Brazil such as the Tupi. The session will take the form of a conversation about what Australia and Latin American countries might have to share in Indigenous cultures.

Talk by Ilana Goldstein, UNICAMP – Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil

Response by Philip Morrissey, Academic Coordinator of the Australia Indigenous Studies program at the University of Melbourne, will be a respondent.

Event details

Ilana Goldstein ‘From Papunya to Rio: the model of Australian Indigenous art across the South’
Wednesday 31 March 2010, 7:30-9:00pm
Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne (map)
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members

One Just world – guilt trip or global duty?

Forum – What responsibilities do Australians owe the global poor?

  • Tuesday, 16 February 2010 6:00 PM
  • The Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre
    Cnr Swanston Street and Monash Road, The University of Melbourne
  • Website

Panellists including Peter Singer and Tim Costello consider the status of ‘white man’s burden’ in a changed world. Questions include:

How do ‘Southern’ countries perceive the issue of responsibilities and obligations? Do they see it as just Western paternalism mixed with liberal guilt and some hypocrisy? Do they see such obligations as necessary to identify and then insist on?

Oceanic Transformations conference



3rd Conference ‘Oceanic Transformations’ Victoria University Conference Centre, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 8th – 11th April 2010

Call for abstracts by 8th February 2010

The Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS) holds a biennial conference. The first one, "Australia in the Pacific – the Pacific in Australia" was held in January 2006 at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  The next, "Oceanic Connections", was held in April 2008 at the Australian National University (ANU).  AAAPS now invites abstracts for presentations to the 3rd AAAPS conference, “Oceanic Transformations” to be held at the Victoria University Conference Centre, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th April 2010. For more information about AAAPS please visit the website http://www.aaaps.edu.au/. Membership is free, if you are interested, please register on the website.

In the 21st Century Oceania, including Australia is faced with issues such as climate change, collapse of global financial institutions and unsustainable agriculture and fisheries. While the globalization of markets has been seen as an inevitable process, recent events point to a need for more attention to be paid to local solutions to global problems within the Oceanic region. Australia’s role seems marked by contradiction. Official institutions are attempting to increase their influence in the region, yet Australians learn less and less from their educational institutions and media about Oceania. At the same time, growing diasporas of Pacific Islanders in Australia are making their presence felt in fields of culture, music, sport, education and civil society.

The Conference will be cross-disciplinary, Papers of 20 minutes duration are invited in the following streams, preference will be given to topics which address the Conference theme but all papers in the field of Pacific studies will be considered. Please email abstracts of 200 – 300 words and brief biographical details (including email and mailing address) to one of the convenors below. Publication of books of refereed papers will be discussed at the conference, together with other modes of publication, including e publication.

Historical Approaches – Jon Ritchie; jonathan.ritchie@deakin.edu.au:

Helen Gardner; Helen.gardner@deakin.edu.au

The study of Pacific History underpins all other approaches to this region: explorations of Pacific economics, health, social and cultural development, foreign relations, and the arts demand an understanding of the trends that have contributed to shaping the contemporary region and its peoples.  And yet paradoxically, the sub-discipline of Pacific History is in decline in Australia.  Why this should be the case, and what can be done to address this trend, are questions that require answers if the study of Pacific History in Australia is to retain its central role in Pacific studies more generally.

Anthropology – Grant McCall; g.mccall@unsw.edu.au;

Benedicta Rousseau: rousseau@unimelb.edu.au

Anthropology has an abiding interest in the history, development and current cultural affairs of the Pacific Islands, with important figures (e.g. Malinowski, Firth) in the development of the discipline having done their research there. What is the current state of play of anthropological studies of the Pacific Islands in Australia? Are there “discoveries” yet to be made in social anthropological research? And how might anthropological research on the Pacific Islands contribute to the understanding of “oceanic transformations” today?

Pacific Governments in the 20th Century

Guy Powles; guy.powles@law.monash.edu.au

Governments and political systems across the region present a variety of types, and reflect different approaches and values. All are challenged by external pressures and changing local public expectations. This section seeks insights that will increase our understanding of government and leadership. Such insights might include the following, and more – such as how government is composed, eg. women’s roles; how it is constructed or operates, and how constitutional reform is approached; how government responds to the nation’s needs in crucial areas, ranging from citizen’s rights and justice to social development and protection of resources.

Regional Organizations – Nic Maclellan; nicmaclellan@optusnet.com.au

A good deal of Australia’s relations with the Pacific Islands is mediated through regional organizations, yet they are not often subjected to as much study, media attention or focus by civil society as they deserve. Papers are invited in this stream that offer analysis of current or historical approaches to regional organizations and policies, including intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, security, environmental or trading organizations.

Teaching and Learning in the Pacific – Irene Paulsen; irene.Paulsen@vu.edu.au

Education is one of the major areas of spending by Pacific governments; it is a major component of the Millennium Development Goals and a prime destination of Australian aid. Many innovative strategies are being pursued in the Pacific Islands to address many of the problems education faces in Pacific Islands. This stream invites papers on educational initiatives in the Pacific Islands, and lessons which can be learnt about the educational challenges facing small island states.

Environment – Emeretta Cross; emeretta.cross@au.ey.com

The Copenhagen conference was a defining moment in Australia’s relations with its Pacific Island neighbours, how do Islanders see the future from the perspective of all environmental issues, including forestry, energy use, fisheries and what are strategies for sustainable development in the islands and in Australia that do not compromise the environment.

Media and Communications – Sean Dorney; Sean.Dorney@AustraliaNetwork.com

John Wallace; Wallace@apjc.org.au Jane Landman; Jane.Landman@vu.edu.au

The media play a key role in influencing how Australians see the Pacific, yet we have very few journalists in Australia with a deep knowledge of Pacific Island politics, international relations and societies and cultures. Filmmaking on the Pacific has been of considerable importance in how Australians see our island neighbours. Media studies is now an academic field within Australia and the Pacific universities and hopefully papers will be offered in this field on how to make Australian and other international media more responsive to the region.

It will also cover film-making and production of television series related to the Pacific Islands.

Contemporary Exhibitions and Cultural Events – Susan Cochrane; s.cochrane@uq.edu.au

A new focus on Pacific arts and cultures is highly visible in Australia’s premier cultural institutions, whether acknowledging the aesthetic wealth of Pacific peoples contained in their historic collections, or paying attention to the abundant creative talents of contemporary artists. This stream will concentrate on recent Pacific exhibitions in Australia and cultural events in the contemporary Pacific. The Collections Australia Network is assisting with developing presentations that demonstrate the effective use of new digital tools with collections research, exhibition development and the presentation of cultural knowledge.

Language, literature, linguistics and and Interpreting – Kilisitina Sisifa; kilisitinas@yahoo.com.au

Key components in understanding the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands region

Workshop on Pacific Islanders in Pacific Studies in Australia – Katerina Teaiwa; katerina.teaiwa@anu.edu.au

This session addresses the need for Pacific Studies programs to provide outreach for Pacific Islander communities in Australia. Pacific Studies can be used to create access pathways for tertiary education by linking community needs, and cultural values and concepts, with issues and approaches in Pacific Studies disciplines. Outreach programs also allow Pacific Studies scholars to engage with policies and programs for equity and diversity in Australian Higher Education. Several such programs exist across Australian universities but most do not use methods and content from Pacific Studies to connect with Islanders. The session will be run as a discussion forum.

Tourism – Emma Wong; emma.wong@vu.edu.au

Tourism is the way most Australians experience the Pacific Islands, it is also a major industry faced with a number of issues of sustainability and now also a major academic field. Papers are invited from those working on issues of tourism from the perspectives of many disciplines, including business, environment, cultural communication, economics and labour relations.

Health – Bev Snell: bev@burnet.edu.au

Health is another major way in which Australia interacts with the region, investment and aid in the sector is growing. Many Australian academic institutions have links with their counterparts in health institutions in the region. Papers are invited which analyse national and community level initiatives being led by Pacific Island countries in key health areas.

Advocacy, Civil Society and Social Transformation – Helen Hill; Helen.hill@vu.edu.au

Australia is a major aid donor in the region, yet Australian Development NGOs frequently do not regard the region as poor enough or oppressed enough to make it a focus for their advocacy work. Pacific Island civil society organizations have a much better understand of the Australian system than Australians do of theirs. This stream invites papers on innovative ways of connecting Australian and Pacific Island civil society and advocacy organizations with a focus on social transformation in fields such as economic justice, gender issues, sustainable agriculture and nonformal education.