Contested Histories, Unsettled Futures
The Centre for Colonial and Settler Studies (CASS) and the Future of Rights Centre (FoRC) will host this joint event to showcase research being undertaken across both Research Centres based within the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry (HSI) around the themes of past, present, and emerging historical, political, and social contentions and insecurities.
The event will take place on:
Tuesday 12th April from 09:45am to 3:00pm
Building 24-G02 and on Zoom
(link provided with Registration)
A/Prof Claire Lowrie, CASS Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
A/Prof Phil Orchard, FoRC Co-director: email@example.com
A/Prof Susan Engel, FoRC Co-director: firstname.lastname@example.org
A/Prof Roger Patulny, Research Leader HSI: email@example.com
‘Contested Histories, Unsettled Futures’ Program
School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, ASSH, UOW, April 12, 2022
9:45 am Welcome to Country
|PART I – Contesting Colonialism: Past Present and Future (CASS)|
|10.00am – 10.20am||Learning to Stand with Gyack||A/Prof Lisa Slater, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies, HSI|
|10.20am – 10.40am||Yaangarra: Building Digital Capacity for
the Teaching of Indigenous Literature
|Dr Michael R. Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies, TAEM|
|10.40am – 11.00am||Morning Tea|
|11.00am – 11.20am||James Thornton Beckett, the First Chief Inspector of Aborigines and Settler
Colonialism in the Northern Territory
|Leonie Tan, PhD Candidate in History, HSI|
|11.20am – 11.40am||‘Break the monotony of meat’: vegetarian messaging in the Australian Women’s
|Dr Lauren Samuelsson, Honorary Fellow, History, HSI|
|11.40am – 12.00pm||Chinese Amahs in White Australia: Domestic Workers and the Second World War||A/Prof Claire Lowrie, Associate Professor History, HSI, with Charmaine Lam|
|PART II – Contested Climates and Emerging Insecurities (FoRC)|
|1.00pm – 1.20pm||Tony Wrigley, Kenneth Pomeranz, Vaclav Smil and the missing ‘motive powers’: minimizing the contribution of wind- and water-power in the Industrial Revolution||
Dr Adam Lucas, Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies, HSI
|1.20pm – 1.40pm||Leading from the Pacific: Norms, Contestation, and the Issue of Climate Mobilities Protection||Mr Liam Moore, HDR Candidate International Relations, HSI|
|1.40 – 2pm||Afternoon Tea|
|2.00pm – 2.20pm||More Debtfare than Healthcare: Business as Usual in the Multilateral Development Banks’ COVID-19 response in India||A/Prof Susan Engel, Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies, HSI, with David Pedersen, HSI|
|2.20pm – 2.40pm||Do Australians think they have a right to Universal Basic Income? Presenting evidence from the 2019-2020 Australian Social Attitudes Survey||A/Prof Roger Patulny, Associate Professor of Sociology, HSI, with A/Prof Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie University) & Ms Maiy Azize, Anglicare Australia|
|2.40pm – 3.00pm||Resonance and/or the Slow Apocalypse||Dr Jordan McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, HSI|
PART I – Contesting Colonialism: Past Present and Future
Centre for Colonial and Settler Studies (CASS)
The first part of ‘Contested Histories, Unsettled Futures’ showcases presentations from the Centre for Colonial and Settler Studies (CASS), which is part of the Faculty of Arts Social Sciences and Humanities, based within the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry (HSI). The centre promotes critical inquiry into the history, theoretical framing, and contemporary legacies of colonialism on a global scale. CASS is an interdisciplinary centre bringing together researchers in history, political science, cultural studies and literary criticism. Our members include academic staff, honorary academics, and PhD students as well as external affiliates from Australia and overseas. We run a regular work-in-progress sessions as well as seminars and conferences. The focus of Part I is on bringing together the diverse work of CASS members around the theme of ‘Contesting Colonialism’, including looking at Indigenous connections to land, animals and literature, and historical accounts of colonial government figures, migrant labour, and consumption practices.
CASS Website and Twitter:
PART I – ABSTRACTS
Learning to Stand with Gyack
A/Prof Lisa Slater, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies, HSI
The project that I want to discuss is, what is affectionately called, the Corroboree Frog project. It began as a collaboration with Wolgalu and Wiradjuri First Nations community members, Brungle Tumut Local Land Council, scientists from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and academics from UOW. Initially the aim was to revitalise the Wolgalu/Wiradjuri community’s connection to a critically endangered and culturally and ecologically significant species: the corroboree frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi). Whom the Wolgalu nation call Gyack. Over the past 18 months, the project has developed and deepened, and in the words of my Wolgalu/Wiradjuri colleague Shane Herrington, the Corroboree frog is just one (important) piece of the puzzle to revitalise Wolgalu/Wiradjuri knowledges and work to put culture at the centre of land management practices. In this paper, I want to trace the journey of the project, and where we might be heading and why. I also want to take the opportunity to reflect upon my role, but more so my place in the project, and trying to be a useful academic.
 I wish to acknowledge and thank the project team: Country, Gyack, Brungle-Tumut Wolgalu/Wiradjuri, Aunty Sue Bulger, Shane Herrington, Vanessa Cavanagh, Geoff Simpson, Kat Haynes, Mal Ridges & Dave Hunter.
 In Wolgalu there are two names that describe frogs. Gyack – because of its call – best describes the corroboree frog (Shane Herrington, pers. comm. 21st Sept 2021).
Yaangarra: Building Digital Capacity for the Teaching of Indigenous Literature
Dr Michael R. Griffiths, Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies, School of Arts, English and Media (TAEM)
Yaangarra Team: Evelyn Araluen Corr, Luke Patterson, Jade Kennedy, Michael Griffiths, Chrissy Howe, Ika Willis, Pascal Perez, Mehrdad Amirghasemi
Yaangarra, the Dharawal word for paperbark, is the name of a database and interactive teaching tool for working with Indigenous Literatures from Australia, designed and produced on Dharawal Country at the University of Wollongong. Our team is comprised of literary and Indigenous studies scholars Evelyn Araluen Corr (Bundjalung, Goorie/Koorie) and Luke Patterson (Kaamilaaraay); educator Jade Kennedy (Yuin); literary studies scholar Michael Griffiths; creative writer Chrissy Howe; reception studies scholar Ika Willis; and our partners in the SMART Infrastructure Facility, with the leadership of Pascal Perez and the expertise of IT Architect Mehrdad Amirghasemi. Yaangarra connects knowledge about Indigenous writers to Country, literary genre, time and story.
James Thornton Beckett, the First Chief Inspector of Aborigines and Settler Colonialism in the Northern Territory
Leonie Tan, PhD Candidate in History, HSI
In 1904, JT Beckett wrote an article in the Age to decry the exploitive practice of indenture in Western Australia, describing it as being akin to slavery. He argued that Aboriginal people were ‘born to a life as free and untrammelled as that of any other’ and that their protection and livelihood could not simply be ‘ordained by an act of Parliament’. Beckett was later appointed the first Chief Inspector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory and played a foundational role in the Territory’s transition to Commonwealth rule. This paper will present one of the first scholarly accounts of his life, from his early experience as an ‘overlander’ journeying across the top end and his work as a journalist in Western Australia, to understand how his experiences with Aboriginal people influenced his later work. Contextualising Beckett’s ‘expertise’ helps illuminate this early period of Aboriginal governance under Commonwealth rule in the Northern Territory
‘Break the monotony of meat’: vegetarian messaging in the Australian Women’s Weekly, 1933-1982
Dr Lauren Samuelsson, Honorary Fellow, History, HSI
Australia has a long history of excessive meat consumption. Colonists were once tempted to Australian shores by the promise of being able to eat meat ‘three times a day’, and commentators in the late 19th century reflected that Australians’ ‘consumption of…meat…is enormously in excess of any commonsense requirements’. Vegetarianism and veganism have been rising in popularity in Australia with around 12 per cent of the population abstaining from meat consumption. The mainstream popularity of these diets is relatively recent, however there have long been segments of the Australian population who have pushed for the uptake of a vegetarian diet, for a wide variety of reasons. As the preeminent women’s magazine of the twentieth century, the Australian Women’s Weekly (the Weekly) had an immense influence on mainstream Australian food culture. This paper seeks to investigate vegetarian messaging in the magazine between 1933 and 1982. In examining these messages, I will aim to discover the ways in which vegetarianism was integrated with the wider food culture communicated to the magazine’s readers and the underlying entanglements between vegetarianism, gender and class throughout the twentieth century. In doing so, I hope to shed light on the complex historical relationship between Australian food culture and meat eating to understand cultural barriers to the uptake of vegetarianism in Australia.
Chinese Amahs in White Australia: Domestic Workers and the Second World War
A/Prof Claire Lowrie, Associate Professor History, HSI, with Charmaine Lam
Between 1940 and 1942 thousands of British women and children were evacuated from Malaya and Hong Kong and sent to Australia in the context of Japanese wartime expansionism. Though it contravened the terms of the Commonwealth government’s Immigration Restriction Act (1901), some of those women were granted permission to bring their Chinese amahs (nursemaids) with them to care for their children. This paper explores the little-known story of Chinese amahs in Australia during the Second World War and their attempts to remain in the country at the conclusion of the war. It is part of an ARC Discovery Project on Ayahs and Amahs Transcolonial Servants in Australia and Britain 1780-1945 with Victoria Haskins and Swapna Banerjee.
PART II – Contested Climates and Emerging Insecurities
Future of Rights Centre (FoRC)
The second part of ‘Contested Histories, Unsettled Futures’ showcases presentations from the Future of Rights Centre (FoRC), which is part of the Faculty of Arts Social Sciences and Humanities, based within the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry (HSI). FoRC brings together humanities and social science researchers interested in exploring how past and present understandings of human rights at the global, Asia-Pacific, and local levels will help to inform the future. The focus of Part II is on looking back to contest historical accounts of ‘industrial progress’ by reframing the industrial revolution around sustainable energy use, and gazing forward with optimism – looking at attitudes and possibilities for the introduction of Universal Basic Income – and pessimism – or the arrival of the ‘slow apocalypse’ …
FoRC Website and Twitter:
PART II – ABSTRACTS
Tony Wrigley, Kenneth Pomeranz, Vaclav Smil and the missing ‘motive powers’: minimizing the contribution of wind- and water-power in the Industrial Revolution
Dr Adam Lucas, Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies, HSI
Neo-Malthusian demographers, economic historians and historians of technology have written copiously on the origins of the Industrial Revolution and argued that the transition to a mineral-based energy economy as a result of the extensive adoption and development of mining-based technologies in the early modern period led to socioeconomic ‘breakthroughs’ in overcoming the ‘natural limitations’ of an organic economy. Emphasizing the role of coal and steam-power in generating the economic and technological momentum to achieve this breakthrough, they have minimized, and sometimes inexplicably ignored, the contribution of wind- and water-power to the Industrial Revolution and to the development of agriculture and industry more generally. This paper presents preliminary research relating to Britain which questions these scholarly practices based on the Leverhulme Trust Project Grant, a collaboration between Dr Lucas and colleagues at the University of Glasgow
Leading from the Pacific: Norms, Contestation, and the Issue of Climate Mobilities Protection
Mr Liam Moore, HDR Candidate International Relations, HSI
Climate mobilities is a complex and contested area, with several overlapping and intersecting norm regimes governing it. During the Trump administration, the United States retreated from its traditional position of leadership on climate change and forced migration. This created opportunities for other actors to contest existing normative agendas. Fiji’s presidency of COP23 meant they were well placed to fill the space left by the US retreat. They offered an alternative way forward based on both their domestic policies on climate relocation and displacement, and their practices in physically relocating communities and creating innovative climate financing models. Fiji used these experiences to put forward a new arrangement of international norms. A key question, however, is whether target audiences will accept this new arrangement as legitimate. Within the Pacific, the ideas are gaining traction – Vanuatu has similar policies on climate mobilities, while New Zealand has endorsed Fiji’s climate trust fund financing model. Internationally, while Fiji has received praise from figures such as the UN Secretary General, the next test is whether their language and ideas are adopted in the forthcoming reports on climate displacement requested by President Biden’s recent executive order. If they are, it suggests that Fiji’s contestations have been successful.
More Debtfare than Healthcare: Business as Usual in the Multilateral Development Banks’ COVID-19 response in India
A/Prof Susan Engel, Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies, HSI, with David Pedersen, HSI
Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have been a vital source of funds for the Global South in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the healthcare sector. Prior to the pandemic, the big MDBs’ approach to healthcare reflected the post-Washington Consensus, that is a largely neoliberal agenda perpetuating the expansion of private healthcare markets through financialization mechanisms, though with some emphasis on a minimal level of universal healthcare. We studied the MDBs’ approaches to healthcare in India to evaluate whether the pandemic resulted in: (a) a critical reassessment of their healthcare models; (b) a business-as-usual approach; or (c) a disaster capitalism response exploiting the current socio-economic milieu to further propagate neoliberal reform. We found first, that the MDBs adopted an inadequate business-as-usual approach which is thickening the financialization of healthcare. They do this in projects that operate from the macro through to the micro level, in other words, the MDBs are promoting the multi-scalar financialization of healthcare in India that will have long-term implications for the sector. Secondly and relatedly, MDB lending is deepening debtfare which Susanne Soederberg (2014, 3) conceived as a term to describe the way neoliberal states “mediate, normalise and discipline the monetised relations that inhabit the poverty industry.”
Do Australians think they have a right to Universal Basic Income? Presenting evidence from the 2019-2020 Australian Social Attitudes Survey
A/Prof Roger Patulny, Associate Professor of Sociology, HSI, with A/Prof Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie University) & Ms Maiy Azize, Anglicare Australia
Rising inequality and insecurity have fuelled interest in basic income schemes and experiments around the world. Internationally, surveys such as the European Social Survey (ESS), have explored public attitudes to basic income, and found significant differences within and between countries based on the organisation of welfare and work. We add to this literature by presenting novel Australian data from the 2019-20 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes designed to mirror the ESS UBI question. We find that Australian attitudes are broadly in the middle of European opinion, with 51% in support of UBI, and that Australians registered a slight increase in support for UBI during the COVID-19 pandemic (consistent with other emerging evidence). We also find general support for UBI amongst young people, those not currently working (excluding retired people), those more highly educated, renters, and a range of attitudes and identifications associated with the political left. The main opposition is amongst older, less educated, retired, homeowners with more right-wing attitudes and identifications. The paper concludes with a discussion of how material versus post-material motivations intersect with political attitudes to shape perceptions that Australians have a right to Universal Basic Income.
Resonance and/or the Slow Apocalypse.
Dr Jordan McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, HSI
The ‘slow apocalypse’ (McMurry 1996) challenges Hollywood deceptions of the end of the world as a series of sudden and dramatic events that constitute a collapse of social, political and economic structures. Rather than understanding the ‘beginning of the end’ as the result of an asteroid, a nuclear bomb or a financial collapse, the concept of a slow apocalypse suggests that the deterioration of society is slow, boring and likely already underway. It also challenges the nation-centred depictions of crisis that assume a disastrous ‘end of the world’ event would happen globally and with equal impact. This is as dark as it is relatable and it calls for a new way of thinking about crisis. Traditional ideas about the apocalypse inspire heroic political or military acts that can save the day, and resourceful preppers undertaking adventures in a dangerous and exciting new landscape. But the slow apocalypse is boring, bureaucratic and dull. It is a death by a thousand cuts and it is easy to get accustomed to all the bleeding. This is all somewhat speculative and open to interpretation, so my question here is something like ‘to what extent can a future-oriented and seemingly optimistic theory of happiness – like Hartmut Rosa’s Resonance – co-exist with a slow apocalypse?’ Is it too much to ask for a theory like Rosa’s to address a global collapse? Almost certainly. While there is much about Resonance that is agreeable and effective, what is the place for a theory of happiness in a time of real and everyday crisis? Is it an irresponsible distraction from the reality of a time where happiness has no place. Or, if this is a new normal, is it an essential component of learning to live in an apocalyptic new age?