Keynote Speakers

Professor Audra Simpson, Columbia University

Savage States: Settler Governance in an Age of Sorrow
In what world do we imagine the past to be settled in light of its refusal to perish and allow things to start over anew? What are the conditions that make for this imagining, this fantasy or rather, demand of a new start point? In this piece I consider the world of settler colonialism, which demands this newness, and a world in which Native people and their claims to territory are whittled to the status of claimant or subject in time with the fantasy of their disappearance and containment away from a modern and critical present. This fantasy of a world without Indigenous people, or Indigenous peoples whittled into claimants extends itself to a mode of governance that is beyond institutional and ideological but is in this study, deeply affective. In this piece I examine how the Canadian practice of settler governance has adjusted itself in line with global trends and rights paradigms away from overt violence to what are seen as softer and kinder, caring modes of governing but governing, violently still and yet, with a language of care, upon on still stolen land. This piece asks not only in what world we imagine time to stop, but takes up the ways in which those that survived the time stoppage stand in critical relationship to dispossession and settler governance apprehend, analyze and act upon this project of affective governance. Here an oral and textual history of the notion of “reconciliation” is constructed and analyzed with recourse to Indigenous criticism of this affective project of repair.

Bio: Audra Simpson is Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke University Press, 2014) Her research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. Her current research project examines the borders of time, history and bodies across and within what is now understood to be the United States and Canada. 

Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla, University of Otago

 Intimate Histories of Dispossession

2018 marks five years since marriage equality was enacted in New Zealand. During public debate, and in submissions to the select committee on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, arguments in support of legal reform were made on the basis of a proud record of tolerance, equality and concern for human rights. Of particular note, was how a history of interracial marriage was used to register the diversity of marital histories and forms in New Zealand’s past and regularly deployed as evidence of a socially progressive nation. This presentation reviews these claims, focusing on the particular kinds of marital histories that were evoked in public debate, and what they suggest about the politics of race and sexuality in New Zealand’s marital past. As I will discuss, using interracial marriage as a measure for tolerance elides the contestation over marital sovereignties in nineteenth and twentieth century New Zealand, and the vital role of interracial marriage in advancing settler colonialism. In this talk I will explore some of these intimate histories of dispossession.

Bio: Angela Wanhalla is an associate professor and Royal Society Te Apārangi  Rutherford Discovery Fellow in the Department of History and Art History at the University of Otago. Her research focuses on the complex histories and politics of cross-cultural intimacy in colonial societies, particularly for Indigenous communities in New Zealand and the Pacific. Her most recent publications include the award-winning Matters of the Heart: A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand (2013), Mothers’ Darlings of the South Pacific: The children of US servicemen and Indigenous women, World War II (2016) co-edited with Judith A. Bennett; and He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century (2017) with Lachy Paterson. She is also a judge and panel convenor of the General Non-Fiction Prize for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2019.

Associate Professor Penny Edmonds, University of Tasmania 

Constitutional change and Aboriginal recognition from the heart of Lutruwita (Tasmania): Indigenous led performances and legal refoundings in (post) reconciliation Australia.

On December 2016 Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Patsy Cameron and the Tasmanian Governor, the Honourable Kate Warner signed an historic and new preamble to the Tasmanian constitution instating Aboriginal recognition as an act of reconciliation and part of ‘resetting the relationship’.This paper traces a range of performances from the heart of Lutruwita including the momentous signing of the preamble. These political performances of diplomacy and peace-building must be viewed as part of a global a paradigm of reconciliation, redress, and calls for transitional justice in the aftermath of war or trauma – and, crucially, they are Indigenous led. In Australia such events must also be understood as fraught legal and moral refoundings in a climate where formal reconciliation at the national level has been devoid of any form substantial redress. Indeed, the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ delivered to the peoples of the Australian nation in May 2017, which placed matters of history and truth telling, Aboriginal sovereignty and Makarrata (treaty) at the forefront of constitutional change, did not invoke the term ‘reconciliation’; regardless, it was utterly rejected by the federal government. This paper suggest that in this (post) reconciliation moment legal redress, treaty deliberations and peace building continues on at the state and local level through locally brokered compacts, where federal and top-down social programs have too often been repressive and reinforced colonial hegemonies.

Bio: Penny Edmonds is Associate Professor of History and a recent ARC Future Fellow (2012-2017) in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Penny’s research interests include colonial/ postcolonial histories, humanitarianism and human rights, Australian and Pacific-region transnational histories, performance, and museums and visual culture. Her books include Urbanising Frontiers: Indigenous Peoples and Settlers in 19th-Century Pacific Rim Cities (UBC Press 2010) and Settler Colonialism and (Re)conciliation: Frontier Violence, Affective Performances, and Imaginative Refoundings (Palgrave 2016), which was shortlisted for the 2017 Ernest Scott Prize. 

Dr Timothy Jones, La Trobe University

Rebalancing Rights: Religion and Sexuality after Marriage Equality

In Australia, the marriage equality campaign, and the political aftermath of the enactment of marriage equality legislation, have exposed widespread confusion regarding the relationship of religion to marriage, and to sexuality more generally. The Ruddock Review of religious freedom has brought into focus the exceptional legal position religious organisations and individuals enjoy in Australian law. This paper provides a survey of the relationship between religious and sexual rights in Australian history. It then draws on recent research on the LGBT conversion therapy movement, conducted in partnership Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Human Rights Law Centre, to discuss ways in which the balance of competing religious and sexual rights is being reset.

Bio: Timothy W. Jones is senior lecturer in history and chair of the gender, sexuality and human rights research group at La Trobe University. His research focuses on intersections of the histories of sexuality and religion, particularly in Australia and the UK. His publications include Sexual Politics in the Church of England, 1857-1957 (2013); Love and Romance in Britain, 1918-1970 (2015) co-edited with Alana Harris; and Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT Conversion Therapy in Australia (2018) with Anna Brown, Lee Carnie, Gillian Fletcher and Liam Leonard. He also serves as vice president of the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives.

Crystal McKinnon, RMIT – Details

Professor Renisa Mawani, University of British Columbia

Across Oceans of Law

In 1914 the S.S. Komagata Maru left Hong Kong for Vancouver carrying 376 Punjabi migrants. Chartered by railway contractor Gurdit Singh, the ship and its passengers were denied entry into Canada and eventually deported to Calcutta. In Across Oceans of Law Renisa Mawani retells this well-known story of the Komagata Maru. Drawing on what she terms “oceans as method”—a mode of thinking and writing that repositions land and sea—Mawani argues that the Komagata Maru‘s landing raised urgent questions regarding the jurisdictional tensions between the common law and admiralty law, and ultimately, the legal status of the sea.

Bio: Renisa Mawani is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia and recurring Chair of the Law and Society Program. Other affiliations at UBC include: Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Institute for Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Justice, Green College, and the Science and Technology Studies Program. She has a PhD from the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include Colonial Legal History; Critical Theory, Race and Racism; Affect; Time and Temporality; Oceans and Maritime Worlds; Indigeneity; Colonial India and the Diaspora; Posthumanism.

To date, her work has aimed to write histories of indigenous dispossession and “Asiatic” migration (from China and India, in particular) as conjoined and entangled colonial legal processes that are central to the politics of settler colonialism, historically and in the contemporary moment. Her first book, Colonial Proximities (2009), details legal encounters between Indigenous peoples, Chinese migrants, Europeans, and those enumerated as “mixed race” along Canada’s west coast. Her second book, Across Oceans of Law (2018), traces the currents and counter-currents of British and colonial law and Indian radicalism through the 1914 journey of the S.S. Komagata Maru, a British-built and Japanese owned steamship. Professor Mawani’s current book project explores piracy and anticoloniality as intersecting and overlapping histories. Professor Mawani’s second set of interests, “legalities of nature,” coalesce at the juncture of science, law, and history.