2023 Annual Paul Priday Lecture: Dreams of Flight: The Lives of Chinese Women in the West

Chau Chak Wing Museum | 5pm, 17 March, 2023

In this lecture Fran Martin will draw on a 5-year ethnographic study of the social and subjective experiences of fifty young women from China through the years of their university study in Australia.* 
Although around 60% of outgoing students from China are female, the gendered dimensions of China’s educational diaspora have to date been little discussed. My study was interested in how educational mobility affects post-90s middle-class women’s negotiations of the contradictory gendered life scripts and self-understandings available to them today.

One of the study’s premises was the observation of a tension in contemporary Chinese public culture between, on the one hand, a neoliberal-style discourse of self-reliant, self-entrepreneurial professional subjecthood that has strong attractive power for well-resourced, middle-class, urban singleton daughters; and, on the other hand, a neotraditionalist discourse of women’s inherently family-centred “nature” and their biological destiny to marry and have a child(ren) by age thirty.

Some of the key findings draw on fieldwork and interviews to explore the type of subjectivity that was ultimately produced through participants’ experiences of transnational educational mobility. The research reveals an overseas-graduate subjectivity marked by decreasing identification with the neotraditionalist model of femininity, and correspondingly increased identification with mobile enterprising selfhood.

 *These findings were recently published in Dreams of Flight: The Lives of Chinese Women Students in the West (Duke U.P. 2022).

Drinks and Canapes will follow the lecture. About the speaker:
Fran Martin is a Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne and a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She is a leading scholar of her generation in feminist inter-Asian cultural studies, focusing on sexuality, intimacy, gender, mobility television, film, literature, Internet culture and other forms of cultural production in the contemporary transnational Chinese cultural sphere. Her talk draws on a deep ethnographic study she conducted about women from China living in Australia to attend university.

About the Paul Priday Annual Lecture in Gender and Cultural Studies
Dr Paul Priday was a role model in his work as an “ad man” embodying the opposite of what Madmen represented. As advertising colleagues said, he was a gentleman as well as a stellar creative across many of the top advertising agencies. Like many in the 1960s and 70s, he worked his way up in the industry without having attended university. Lecturing in the Business School and giving guest lectures to a Gender and Cultural Studies class on Consuming Cultures inspired him to go to school. He quickly did a BA Hons at the University of New England, and then joined GCS for his PhD. Elspeth was lucky enough to supervise Paul’s brilliant multi-sited ethnographic research in three multinational ad agencies – in Sydney, Delhi, and Shanghai. His objective was to find out why women rarely featured in the heady ranks of the creatives – a “manspace” par excellence. He graduated with his doctorate in 2016 shortly before his premature death. With this series we honour his research and most especially his work within the Department to harness what he called “the rocket science” of gender studies for debates beyond the university. Paul’s spirit continues to add to our research culture of intellectual generosity and openness.

Book launch: Horror film and Otherness

Professor Adam Lowenstein (University of Pittsburgh)

March 7th at 6pm at UNSW (Robert Webster Building Room 327)

What do horror films reveal about social difference in the everyday world? Criticism of the genre often relies on a dichotomy between monstrosity and normality, in which unearthly creatures and deranged killers are metaphors for society’s fear of the “others” that threaten the “normal.” The monstrous other might represent women, Jews, or Blacks, as well as Indigenous, queer, poor, elderly, or disabled people. The horror film’s depiction of such minorities can be sympathetic to their exclusion or complicit in their oppression, but ultimately, these images are understood to stand in for the others that the majority dreads and marginalizes.

Adam Lowenstein offers a new account of horror and why it matters for understanding social otherness. He argues that horror films reveal how the category of the other is not fixed. Instead, the genre captures ongoing metamorphoses across “normal” self and “monstrous” other. This “transformative otherness” confronts viewers with the other’s experience—and challenges us to recognize that we are all vulnerable to becoming or being seen as the other. Instead of settling into comforting certainties regarding monstrosity and normality, horror exposes the ongoing struggle to acknowledge self and other as fundamentally intertwined.

Horror Film and Otherness features new interpretations of landmark films by directors including Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephanie Rothman, Jennifer Kent, Marina de Van, and Jordan Peele. Through close analysis of their engagement with different forms of otherness, this book provides new perspectives on horror’s significance for culture, politics, and art.

Adam Lowenstein is a professor of English and film studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film (2005) andDreaming of Cinema: Spectatorship, Surrealism, and the Age of Digital Media (2015), both published by Columbia University Press. Lowenstein serves on the board of directors for the George A. Romero Foundation.

Professor Lowenstein will give a presentation about the book, which will be followed by a Q&A. There will be a reception after the Q&A.

The event is co-hosted by the Sydney Screen Studies Network (SSSN) and the Screen Studies Association of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (SSAAANZ).

Prof Lowenstein will give a presentation about the book, which will be followed by a Q&A & reception.

Please register here:


Announcing two new CSAA Executive Committee members

The Cultural Studies Association of Australasia is excited to announce two new Executive Committee members.

Replacing Jay Daniel Thompson as Website and Social Media Officer is Andrew Hutcheon (Edith Cowan University, Western Australia).  

Replacing Elizabeth Stephens as President of the CSAA is Rebecca Olive (RMIT University, Melbourne).  

Rebecca and Andrew will join current Exec members Holly Randell-Moon (Treasurer), Michael Richardson (Members’ officer), Panizza Allmark (ex-officio, Editor, Continuum) and Rob Cover (Secretary) on the committee.  

Congratulations to the new members of the CSAA team, and an enormous thank you to our outgoing president and social media officer for all their valuable work keeping CSAA thriving, particularly during recent complex years. 

We are looking forward to CSAA’s continued success in its 31st year in 2023.  

Elizabeth Stephens: Celebrating 30 Years of the CSAA: Reflections of a Departing President

In 1992, the year the CSAA was officially inaugurated as an association, Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia, the Mabo Case had finally overturned the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ in this country, and, in the former colleges of advanced education and institutes of technology that had just been renamed as universities under the Dawkins Act, new-minted Departments of Cultural Studies were graduating their first cohorts of students.

I was one of those students, in the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies at Curtin University. This was during the years that Graeme Turner, Noel King, John Hartley, Jon Stratton, amongst others, were passing through its Brutalist corridors. Around the same time, at nearby Murdoch University, Ien Ang, Niall Lucy, Tom O’Regan, John Frow, and others were also introducing some of the first Cultural Studies courses in the country. It was an exciting time.

That it was possible to study popular culture, or the practices of everyday life, or the entanglements of power/knowledge, as subjects of a university course was a revelation to teenaged me. Like many of my student peers at Curtin, I was a first-generation university student and largely disinterested in, as well as unfamiliar with, the sort of texts and cultural forms on which more traditional humanities courses then focused. Discovering Cultural Studies made my own cultural experiences and positionality comprehensible in new ways, legitimising texts and subjects that had previously seemed outside serious scholarly consideration.

Over the past thirty years, the CSAA has not merely survived but flourished—no mean feat in Australia given that at least twenty of these years have been under a conservative government, one increasingly hostile to politically engaged teaching and research. The institutional and academic success of Cultural Studies as a field of research in this region is truly testimony to the commitment of the CSAA’s community of scholars.

This success is especially remarkably given that Cultural Studies has always been a rather scruffy and undisciplined sort of academic discipline. While this has often posed challenges to its institutional footing, it has also been a source of strength, and a key to its endurance. The CSAA has long acted as an incubator for new and emergent fields of research, many of which have since become established as important fields of research in their own right: the environmental humanities, affect studies, critical race study, queer theory, disability studies and more have all had important sites of emergence and engagement within the CSAA community. It is important that the CSAA continue to welcome and foster new fields of research as these emerge in the future, even as it retains a growing sense of its own history and methodological specificity.

To have had the opportunity to serve as President of the CSAA over the past four years, and to complete my tenure as the association celebrates its 30th anniversary, has been an honour and a real joy. It goes without saying that the last few years have been enormously difficulty and disruptive for the university sector as a whole. I thank both the CSAA Executive and National Committees for their dedication and service during this period: Rob Cover, Holly Randell-Moon, Jay Daniel Thompson, Michael Richardson; and Anita Brady, Karin Sellberg, Daniel Marshall, Katrina Jaworski, Dennis Bruining, Lola Montgomery, Jude Elund, Megan Rose, Elham Golpushnezhad and Brydie Kosmina.

I hand over leadership of this community to our incoming President knowing that the CSAA, and its future, are in good shape. This is evident in the fact the CSAA has enjoyed no less than two national CSAA conferences this year. The first of these was held in Perth at Edith Cowan University in June, having been originally scheduled as the 2020 annual conference. Many thanks to the organization team of Panizza Allmark, Thor Kerr, James Hall, Jessica Taylor and Laura Glitsos for their perseverance in putting on this fantastic conference.

The second will be held at RMIT University from 1-3 December – next week! This coincides with the CHASS consortium of humanities association conferences and marks the official 30th anniversary of the CSAA. All thanks to Rob Cover, Jay Daniel Thompson, Anna Hickey-Moody and Mark Gibson for their hard work on this conference, and for the many celebratory panels and events they have planned.

This series of blog posts celebrating the CSAA, which will conclude at the end of this year, has provided a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the history of the CSAA and its role in teaching and research in this region. I thank (in order) Mark Gibson, Greg Noble, Rebecca Olive, Lisa Slater, Sukhmani Khorana, Lola Montgomery, and Baden Offord for their earlier contributions to this series. Thanks as well to the CSAA’s Social Media and Website Editor, Jay Daniel Thompson, for his hard work on this series.

All the posts can all be found and enjoyed here on the CSAA website: http://csaa.asn.au/csaa-blog/.

Elizabeth Stephens is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland and the outgoing President of the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia.

Baden Offord: Meeting at the Crossroads

My free dive into cultural studies began in the borderlands of my PhD research that focussed on LGBT human rights, queer theory and Southeast Asia in the mid-to-late 1990s. Having re-located from Eora to Bundjalung Country and finding an academic home at Southern Cross University in Lismore in 1994, I was fortunate to be at the foundation of a School for Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies in 1999.

What emerged was a moment that brought together an incredible constellation of friends, scholars and thinkers: Wanning Sun, Gerard Goggin, Helen Wilson, Ros Mills, Fiona Martin, Justine Lloyd and later on Rob Garbutt, Kim Satchell, Dallas Baker, Rebecca Olive, Erika Kerruish and Soenke Biermann, among others. These wonderful folk were the kind of touchstones you needed in an academy where passion could flower with scholarship and critical enquiry.

Handed the task of establishing a cultural studies program, I set about understanding how cultural studies would work in a regional context. It was exciting, challenging and daunting! My free dive was not without its moments of confusion, anxiety and pathos, as well as moments of sharp clarity, seriousness and fun. At that time, the energies to activate a cultural studies presence in a rural and regional university were, fortunately unencumbered by the limits and expectations sometimes imposed on and by metropolitan and sandstone universities (like the University of Sydney, where I had studied Indian History, Indonesian and Sanskrit.) in which tradition might trump exploration and experiment.

Something about being in Lismore, at the junction of colonial, agricultural, alternative, Indigenous, media, environmental, counter-cultural, activist and protest-based regional experience and belonging/unbelonging, resonated strongly with the Birmingham roots of the cultural studies project, at least it seemed to us. Emboldened by Nick Couldry’s definition of cultural studies as “an expanding space for sustained, rigorous and self-reflexive empirical research into the massive power-laden complexity of contemporary culture,” we set about framing our approach to cultural studies pedagogy through identity, space and place.

At the heart of this was learning about the best of cultural studies traditions, concepts, methods, and attempting to forge a distinctive way to understand and express the deep structural features of social and cultural life (particularly through the lens of race, gender, sexuality, class, dis/ability), as they shape and mark our lived experience.

As I write this reflection post the catastrophic flooding of the Northern Rivers region earlier this year, I’m reminded of the precarious nature of our academic lives, of how our cultural studies scholarship too can be extinguished by the neo-liberal and managerial oriented university.

I wrote up the entire cultural studies unit, ‘Unruly Subjects: Citizenship’ (which later became a core unit in several humanities degrees) over three days in a motel room in Lismore, surrounded by the thoughts of Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall, Ziauddin Sardar, Ruth Lister and Elspeth Probyn. Sadly, I’ve heard the motel was destroyed by those recent floods. The unit, too, has finally been pulled from the SCU curriculum after 21 years. I suspect the activist thrust of the unit proved too much for management.

But what emerged at Southern Cross University was a cultural studies curriculum and critical pedagogy that offered imaginaries and paths to, and practices, of, hope – where hope is a verb (to use Bjork’s approach) associated with radical transformation. The passion was to develop a cultural studies education that enabled ‘affective voices’, agency and mutual respect drawn directly from the relevance of everyday life and issues of social justice.

Importantly, along the way I was indebted to the CSAA and the ACS as associations of cultural studies folk where the pedagogy of our curriculum and the investigations in our research could be tested and given critical and creative oversight.

I was lucky to attend, present and co-present at many of the annual conferences and events with my PhD students and colleagues over 20 years. With my colleagues, undergrad and postgrad students at SCU we even managed to host the 2010 CSAA conference ‘A Scholarly Affair’, held in the Byron Bay Community Centre. I vividly remember salient talks by postcolonial Indian theorist Vinay Lal, environmental humanities scholar Deborah Bird-Rose, Goorie author of Bundjalung and European heritage, Melissa Lucashenko, and sociologist Raewyn Connell. The conference extrapolated from Toni Morrison’s insight that ‘racism is a scholarly affair.’

The rich, generative and often wild energies of these gatherings can’t be overstated when they work at their best. The generosity of academics and scholars was generally amazing. Even when I felt an outsider (as a queer, non-drinking, Maori academic from a regional uni in sandals), the scope of the CSAA was just open enough to create and sustain interstitial and intersectional relations.

I am immensely grateful to have been a part of this activist and intellectual community. For example, it gave me the strength to move beyond having a ‘mouth full of blood’ to having the intellectual and creative verve to engage with my own lived experience about suicide through a decolonising frame. It strikes me as a moment of poignant reflection that during my PhD research I presented on a panel alongside Rob Cover in the catalysing queer conference ‘Activate/Reactivate’ at Sydney Uni, I believe held in 1997-1998. Through the years, he and I have met at many cultural studies crossroads. His work in critical suicide studies has radically contributed to cultural studies scholarship. So, it’s noteworthy that he’s now part of the CSAA conference team organising the 30th anniversary. He is just one example of how powerful these crossroads are!

Baden Offord is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies and Human Rights at Curtin University and is of Māori Pākehā heritage. His research in cultural studies has contributed to innovations in understanding human rights, cultural citizenship, critical pedagogy, and issues of social justice. Among his recent publications are: (co-edited with Fleay, Hartley, Woldeyes and Chan) Activating Cultural and Social Change: Pedagogies of Human Rights, (Routledge, 2022) and the essay ‘Becoming human: lived experience, suicide and the complexities of being’, (https://overland.org.au/2019/07/becoming-human-lived-experience-suicide-and-the-complexities-of-being/). In 2021 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) ‘For distinguished service to tertiary education in the field of human rights, social justice, and cultural diversity.’

Into the Archives: An RMIT Culture Salon Celebrating the AFIRC Research Fellowship

Date and time – Wed., 12/10/2022, 6:00 pm AEDT
Location – The Capitol 113 Swanston Street Melbourne, VIC 3000

For over 10 years, the AFI Research Collection Research Fellowship has supported scholars to delve into the wealth of the archive.

To celebrate the announcement of the recipient of the 2022 Research Fellowship, past fellows James Findlay (2021) and Jessica Balanzategui (2020) present their research, share the gems of Australian film & TV history they’ve uncovered within the archive, and screen a classic that asks the enigmatic question: Have you ever, ever felt like this?

Jessica will discuss key highlights from her AFIRC Fellowship, “Changing Children’s Television Genres in Australia and Changing Paradigms of Quality Child-Appropriate Television.” The project examines how the cultural and industrial landscape around children’s television transformed between 1960-2000, focusing on landmark shifts that impacted children’s genres and public perceptions of their “quality”. These developments include the introduction of the “C” (for children) rating in 1979 after five years of heated negotiations between government, policy, and industry, and the introduction of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation in 1982 and of children’s television standards in 1984.  Jessica will outline some of the policy and industry advocacy that drove these shifts, and trace how shifting expectations around children’s television in Australia played out in news media commentary. This presentation will illuminate some surprising controversies and public debates as children’s television developed into a robust and internationally renowned sector of the Australian screen industry.

James will be discussing his AFIRC Fellowship project, Framing the frontier: Australian settler colonialism on television after 1970, which examines television’s representation of Australian frontier history over the past 50 years. As a mythic arena of pioneering, invasion, celebration and violence, the frontier on screen evokes historical experiences deeply intertwined with changing ideas of race, gender, and the legitimacy of the colonial project. This research is highlighting how television drama and documentary has ascribed meaning to the processes and outcomes of settler colonialism for audiences as well as TV’s role in shaping and reshaping attitudes concerning the most urgent and contentious Australian histories.

A discussion and Q&A with host Stephen Gaunson will follow the presentations.
Free admission – book here

Job: Lecturer or Senior Lecturer (Teaching) in Film, Victoria University of Wellington

The following is the advertisement for the position of Lecturer or Senior Lecturer (Teaching) in Film at Victoria university of Wellington. To apply, and for further information, please click here.

  • Do you have expertise in film production and industry experience in film?
  • Are you able to teach film production at an undergraduate and postgraduate level?
  • Do you have a critically reflective teaching practice?

Mō Te Herenga Waka – About Our University

Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington is a global-civic university with our marae at our heart. This iho draws off our heritage and is further defined by our tūrangawaewae, in particular Wellington, Aotearoa, and the Asia-Pacific, all of which are expressed in our position as Aotearoa New Zealand’s globally ranked capital city university.

Our core ethical values are respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity, and empathy. These core ethical values are demonstrated in our commitment to sustainability, wellbeing, inclusivity, equity, diversity, collegiality, and openness. With, and as, tangata whenua, we value Te Tiriti o Waitangi, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, whai mātauranga, whanaungatanga, and akoranga.

Kōrero mō te tūranga – About the role

Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington invites applications for a permanent full time position (1.0 FTE) as Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Film production to begin in 2023. The appointee will have the opportunity to contribute to a vibrant critical and creative program in Film at Victoria, and to other academic and creative communities in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Job share (two 0.5 FTE positions) will be considered. Please indicate your preference in your application.

Ō pūmanawa – About you

We seek applications from people with expertise in film production and with significant experience in the film industry in Aotearoa New Zealand or Oceania. The successful candidate will have a PhD in Film or equivalent industry experience and a strong record of creative practice. We expect the appointee to contribute productively to fulfilling the University’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations. Candidates will need to show high quality and critically reflective teaching practice in film production—as Lecturer, evidence of the capacity to teach film production and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students; as Senior Lecturer, previous experience teaching film production and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students is required.

Ētahi kōrero hai āwhina i a koe – Why you should join our team

Victoria’s Film Programme has established a reputation as a centre of excellence for creative-practice, meeting high demand amongst students for film production teaching and activity. Its staff and students produce award-winning films and make strong contributions to the screen industries in Wellington and Aotearoa, helped in recent years by the highly visible Miramar Creative Centre, which houses the MFA (CP) in Film Production. This work is supported by extremely strong traditional research and teaching that provide the backbone for innovative creative practice. The Film Programme is committed to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to diversity and inclusion in teaching and production work.

Lola Montgomery: The Kind of Thing That Happens

It’s December 2019. I’m about to present a paper at the CSAA conference at the University of Queensland. I’m in a spectacular lecture theatre where I saw the great Meaghan Morris present a paper just yesterday. But the story actually starts back in the 1990s.

My sojourns through the varied terrain of cultural studies began on the Gold Coast, when I took a double major in theatre and visual art at Griffith University. It was as incongruous as it sounds, a bunch of baby goths, stage kids and writers, all flung together finding harbour in a town that wasn’t known for the likes of us. All first-year students, back then, needed to enrol in a subject in their first semester called ‘The Arts in Perspective 1’ and I fully expected us to be quite firmly reminded that the arts were of very little importance; this was the beginning of the Howard era, after all. I was in the first cohort to pay extra for HECS under newly increased fees, and the mood of the country was moving. Pauline Hanson was screeching the airwaves and suddenly ‘refugee’ was a dirty word.

I was expecting to stay humble.

I remember the first lecture. It was a kind of welcome to uni address and then Dr Patricia Wise said something startling, ‘most of you will end up with a PhD.’ Through the next two semesters, she would guide us through a cornucopia of theory texts, which offered lenses to understand, or try to, the place of the artist, or just the place of us, within the world we were coming of age within. When Port Arthur’s bullets shattered our minds, we contextualised it through traditional gender roles and the harm these things can do. I, like many of my cohort, found voices to articulate things we had begun to notice but not yet really say, not on our own.

In a traditional structure of a one-hour lecture and two-hour tute, we learnt a kind of revolution. Instead of ill-formed feelings and anecdotes about our observations of the world, we learnt to communicate them as ideas, of some value – augmented by French theory even! For a bunch of Gold Coast misfits, arty budding intellectuals on the glitzy and seedy Glitter Strip, this was transformative.

I left Cultural Studies aside for two years – my passion was for art and drama, but when my honours year came hurtling towards me, theory returned, and with gusto. I devoured texts by Morris, Barthes, Probyn, Foucault, Spivak, Gatens, Hall, Broadhurst, and the ones we didn’t understand so easily, Deleuze and Guttari (which I always liked to round to D&G, like fashion provocateurs of the day Dolce e Gabanna), Agamben, and so many more. Again, who was there to champion this way of thinking that took our experiences and made them deep thoughts, and eventually works of art, but the same Dr Pat Wise, or Pat as she was colloquially known. I learnt how to tell high theory through storytelling, long before I’d heard of Autotheory.

Then a PhD beckoned with the roll of the new millennium. I’d just completed my honours degree and had become accustomed to this weave of theory and art. Pat became my supervisor.

Now, back to 2019, with the setting being UQ for the CSAA conference. I’m on a panel alongside my actual next-door neighbour – and we live in the mountains outside of the city so it’s quite remarkable, one of the circus performers-now-PhD- academics that I went to uni with, and two or so other

cultural theorists discussing their applications of theory to corporeal practice. One of my colleagues, who I now teach cultural studies alongside, sits to the side smiling.

The now-Associate Professor Pat Wise is watching a panel of presentations of at least three of her former students, all from that unexpected little Gold Coast enclave and I can’t quite imagine what seeing that fruition might feel like. She’s seen it all, from me, and from many, weaving through my Cultural Studies career like the roots of a rhizome.

I now teach Cultural Studies and have postgrad students of my own. I’m even the state rep for the CSAA, and I have some new research. It’s leaning on Lacan this time, and Femme theory. Afterwards she tells me ‘I was dead impressed.’ I impressed the impressive.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at a CSAA conference.

Dr Lola Meghann Montgomery is a senior lecturer in the Master of Creative Industries at SAE Institute. Her PhD was an exegesis and creative component, focusing on the lives experience of burlesque performance.

Sukhmani Khorana: ‘Favourite Teaching Moment’

It was with great trepidation and much hope that I accepted a secondment as Academic Program Leader in University of Wollongong’s brand-new South-West Sydney campus, which was to be housed in a couple of floors of a Council building in the Liverpool CBD. For those unaccustomed to Sydney’s western and south-western suburbs beyond the recent incessant focus on Parramatta, Liverpool is about 25 kilometres from the centre of Sydney, a lower median income than the New South Wales average and could be classified as ‘super-diverse’ as no single ethnic group dominates.

Also worth noting are the growing cohort of young people, many of whom are children of migrants and refugees. Liverpool and nearby Fairfield are the two Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Sydney where most newly arrived refugees are resettled, leading to particular needs for housing, education, and employment infrastructure.

In other words, this new position would have been ideal for operationalising many conceptual tools in my growing scholarly arsenal on multiculturalism and its embodiment in the Australian context. I had also been writing my first monograph on food in inter-cultural contexts and was equally excited to expand my inner-city palate and foodie know-how. Despite these obvious intersections with my 1.5 generation migrant identity and academic pursuits, my first trip to Liverpool for early admission interviews for UOW’s Bachelor of Arts program turned out to be a checklist of privilege and positionality.

During the interviews themselves, I was heartened that so many students who hailed from racialised backgrounds were interested in pursuing an Arts degree. Some were especially interested in majoring in politics and international relations, while others were keen to explore teaching pathways alongside a major in cultural studies or sociology. This interest in understanding their world through the lens of the humanities existed despite the fact that many hailed from schools where ‘Culture and Society’ was not on offer as an HSC subject. They nonetheless understood how the vocabulary of a discipline akin to cultural studies could enable them to self-represent and claim belonging on behalf of their communities.

However, many were candid about how they had an uphill battle ahead convincing their parents about the value of an arts education. Still others had lived complex lives as always-already politicised subjects in Western Sydney and wanted to find the language to both articulate their experiences and advocate for better conditions for their families in Australia as well as in the Global South.

Stepping away from the campus and my teaching and governance hats, what I was less prepared for was the intensity of guilt I would experience in the course of being a walker/ethnographer/insider-outsider in the streets of Liverpool. This was the first time I encountered my own class and educational privilege vis-à-vis many people of colour who call western or south-western Sydney home. While I had been well-versed in the pedagogical and aesthetic dimensions of cultural diversity, my training and life experience did little to expose me to the habitus of these suburbs and the visceral reactions such exposure would evoke.

What I have been endeavouring to do for the last five years is learning from and collaborating with these communities rather than imposing my own understanding of what would work here. This constitutes very slow research and very patient teaching and my cultural studies training has equipped me for both. It means re-conceptualising cultural capital and what it means to be at home and continue to want to stay in a place that others see as deprived. It implies embracing ‘productive discomfort’, an idea that many cultural studies scholars and colleagues have actively practised and championed

Dr. Sukhmani Khorana is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.

Applying for the AFI Research Collection Fellowship


RMIT’s AFI Research Collection, in partnership with RMIT Culture, and the Screen and Sound Cultures Research Group at RMIT University, is pleased to announce the 2022 AFI Research Collection Research Fellowship.

The AFIRC invites proposals from individuals wishing to undertake research that utilises the Collection’s resources and promotes the AFIRC. We actively encourage applicants who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, from the CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) and/or DGSS (Diverse Genders, Sexes and Sexualities) communities and/or people living with disabilities, who meet the requirements of the Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to showcase the unique holdings of the AFIRC, which include special collections, film stills, newspaper clippings and other significant artefacts from the Australian film and television industry.

The appointed Fellow will have access to the Collection under the guidance of the AFIRC staff. The Fellowship will provide a stipend of $5,000 (AUD) which includes travel costs if the recipient is not from Melbourne.

The Fellow will be required to participate in an accessible public event that engages on a topic related to their work. This could be in the form of an informal In-Conversation, or a panel style event and will be facilitated by RMIT Culture.

The AFI Research Collection Fellowship is open to individuals who have a demonstrated interest and experience in Australian screen culture and research through research outputs or AV outputs.

Applications close on 11:55 pm (AEST) Sunday 4 September 2022.

For further information, please see the following site.