Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Dany Adone (University of Cologne)
Dany Adone is Professor of Linguistics in the English Department, University of Cologne, Germany. She is also codirector of the Centre of Australian Studies, University of Cologne, Adjunct Professor at Charles Darwin University, Australia. and honorary Professor at the University of Seychelles.
She has written or edited several articles/books on Creole and sign languages in Mauritius, Seychelles, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. She is currently working in close collaboration with Indigenous communities and scholars in Northern and Western Australia and in the Seychelles on language documentation focusing on decolonising methodologies.
Keynote Speech: Decolonising Linguistic Research
Most discussion on including Indigenous Knowledge into a Western research and education paradigm comes from cultural and literary studies (e.g. Kovach 2012, Smith 2012, Neumeier and Schaffer 2013). Conversations and discussions with Indigenous scholars have long started, but these conversations are still rare in Linguistics. In this speech I discuss what Contact Linguistics offers in the discussion of Indigenous engagement and especially in the development of Indigenous research frameworks. Contact Linguistics deals with, among others, the study of mixed languages, Indigenised Englishes and Creole languages. In this speech I will explore factors to be addressed when developing a ‘two-way research methodology’. The urgent need for research to be defined by Indigenous voices, i.e. action research based on the needs of the communities involved should be a priority. Another important factor is the recognition of Indigenous Knowledges as a valid approach in research. The often ‘dualistic constructs’ used in European cultures do not allow space for the holistic nature of Indigenous worldviews and give rise to conflict between Indigenous and Western research approaches. The triangulation between Land, People and Language, another central component of Indigenous Knowledge, has to be given more weight. ‘Place’ being responsible for giving identity is theoretically acknowledged but the distinction of languages that relies on locally based knowledge is rarely taken into account.
Bill Ashcroft (University of New South Wales)
Bill Ashcroft is a renowned critic and theorist, founding exponent of postcolonial theory, co-author of The Empire Writes Back, the first text to offer a systematic examination of the field of postcolonial studies. He is author and co-author of twenty-one books and over 200 articles and chapters, variously translated into six languages, and he is on the editorial boards of ten international journals. His latest work is Utopianism in Postcolonial Literatures. He is Emeritus Professor at the University of NSW and is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
Keynote speech: Australia and Postcolonial Risk
Australia has experienced forms of risk that arise directly from its origin as a colony and its subsequent descent into nationalism. An actual risk stems from its relationship with the environment and an invented risk arises from the xenophobia that has led to its bordering practices. The overwhelming and obvious environmental risk is that of climate change, which has resulted in a multi-year drought and unprecedented bushfires. The confected risk is that arising from the panic concerning asylum seekers and refugees. Launching from a discussion of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu this speech considers the extent to which colonial agricultural practices have led to environmental degradation and how the example of the indigenous relationship with the land might offer a different way of being in place. The invented risk of invasion by strangers and the hysterical expressions of xenophobia have resulted in draconian bordering practices. The speech considers the extent to which literature might open up forms of possibility that understand, cope with and see beyond the risks with which Australia is afflicted.
Behrouz Boochani (Independent writer, journalist and activist) and Omid Tofighian (University of Sydney)
Behrouz Boochani is Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Sciences at UNSW and Senior Adjunct Research Fellow with the Ng?i Tahu Research Centre, University of Canterbury (New Zealand). His book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Picador 2018) has won numerous awards including the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature. He is also non-resident Visiting Scholar at the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre (SAPMiC), University of Sydney; Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London; member of Border Criminologies, University of Oxford; Honorary (Principal Fellow) within Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne; Honorary Member of PEN International; and winner of an Amnesty International Australia 2017 Media Award, the Diaspora Symposium Social Justice Award, the Liberty Victoria 2018 Empty Chair Award, and the Anna Politkovskaya award for journalism. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time.
Omid Tofighian is an award-winning lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in citizen media, popular culture, displacement and discrimination. He is Adjunct Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media, UNSW; Honorary Research Associate for the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney; member of Border Criminologies, University of Oxford; faculty at Iran Academia; and campaign manager for Why Is My Curriculum White? - Australasia. His published works include Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues (Palgrave 2016); he is the translator of Behouz Boochani's multi-award winning book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Picador 2018); and co-editor of 'Refugee Filmmaking', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media (2019).
Keynote Speech: Manus Prison Narratives: Displacement, Exile and Knowledge
Literature, films, artworks, and journalism are used to offer unique insight into the lived experience and endurance of people subject to racialized government policies, intersectional discrimination, and systemic exclusion. They introduce unique philosophical standpoints and act as critical interlocutors in debates pertaining to border politics. This discussion between Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian focuses on the experiences and knowledge produced under conditions of displacement and exile and addresses the complexity of these experiences when they intersect with imprisonment in state-run refugee detention centers - particularly the phenomenon of indefinite detention. The discussion introduces narratives and critical perspectives often discussed, analyzed, and criticized but rarely prioritized in public discourse and silenced by prominent media platforms. The dialogue provides insight into the book No Friend but the Mountains: Writings From Manus Prison (Picador 2018, translated by Tofighian) written by Boochani who was held in indefinite detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea from 2013 to 2019 as part of the Australian government’s policies on refugees. Boochani and Tofighian discuss how this work presents an extraordinary aesthetic, philosophical, and political challenge to think through and interrogate the mechanics of detention within a framework of colonial dispossession and the neo-colonial strategies that maintain and reinforce border violence.
Anne Brewster (University of New South Wales)
Associate Professor Anne Brewster is based at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include Australian Indigenous literatures, Women’s literatures, minoritised women’s literatures, critical race and whiteness studies, violence studies, cross-racial research methodologies and explorative critical writing methodologies. Her books include Giving This Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia, (2015), Literary Formations: Postcoloniality, Nationalism, Globalism (1996), Reading Aboriginal Women's Autobiography (1995, 2015), Towards a Semiotic of Post-colonial Discourse: University Writing in Singapore and Malaysia 1949-1964 (1988) and, with Sue Kossew, Rethinking the Victim. Gender, Violence and Contemporary Australian Women’s Writing (2019). She is the series editor for Australian Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Peter Lang Ltd.
Keynote Speech: Australian and Indigenous Women Writing about War
Although Zizek suggests that apocalyptic narratives can work to normalise crises many Indigenous cultural producers argue that Indigenous people across the globe inhabit worlds which their ancestors would have considered dystopian/apocalyptic (Whyte). They suggest that apocalypse is a powerful metaphor for genocide and the anthropogenic environmental damage inflicted on Indigenous peoples. They argue that Indigenous futurism provides a strategy both to ‘move forward’ and to affirm survival and healing within the present (Dillon 2016). This speech examines Claire G Coleman’s novel (The Old Lie, 2020) and its vision of a return to Country against a background of militaristic apocalypse.
It also analyses the work of Australian diasporic women novelists who write about political violence alongside Indigenous writers such as Coleman. Iranian-Australian novelist Shokoofeh Azar describes how settling into Australia as a refugee and feeling ‘safe’ allowed her to write a novel about the violence of the Islamic revolution she had fled. Her acclaimed novel The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (2017) allows her imaginatively to ‘return’ to Iran with the task of commemorating the impact of horrific political violence on civilians. Mobilising a distinctive magic realism overtly embedded in historical ‘fact’ Azar renders the trauma of catastrophe effable, and generates a sense of futurity within the space of diaspora.
If within the canon of white modernist literature futurity has traditionally been considered the exclusive property and prerogative of whiteness, then contemporary Indigenous women writers and racially minoritised women writers enable the future to be occupied with Indigenous and minoritised gendered imaginaries.