News and events

The 2009 Inaugural Edward Said Memorial Master Class

When two become one: the collision of identities in a (post-?) colonial context

18 September 2009

The University of Adelaide's School of History and Politics and the Hawke Research Institute jointly held the 2009 Inaugural Edward Said Memorial Master Class. Prof Saree Makdisi from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted this master class for higher degree students, early career researchers and scholars from South Australia's universities.

This Inaugural ESM Master Class focused on the intriguing questions that arise in the transition from colonial to postcolonial experience. How can the conflicting historical narratives of the colonist and the colonised be reconciled? To what extent is a culture's identity compromised by tolerating or even accepting the culture of the other in a shared nation? Are some acts of oppression beyond forgiveness, and does it matter when two cultures must find a future in one nation? Professor Makdisi addressed these questions within the paradigm of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the hypothetical case of a post-conflict Arab/Jewish nation. The same questions, however, linger in South Africa, Australia and many other postcolonial nations.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California in Los Angeles, UCLA. He has published widely on his area of expertise, British romanticism, and is a regular contributor on contemporary Arab politics and culture. Widely published in his academic area, Makdisi has also written many commentaries on Palestine for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, London Review of Books and the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2008 Makdisi published his book Palestine inside out: everyday occupation. The book combines the personal experiences of daily life under occupation with an analysis of how the occupation functions as a whole. He is the nephew of the late Edward Said and the grandson of Anis Makdisi, a distinguished professor of Arabic at the American University of Beirut.

Foucault: 25 years on

25 June 2009, Magill Campus

The Centre for Postcolonial Studies and Globalisation marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Michel Foucault with a conference to reflect on the influence of his work.

Twenty five years after his death, reflecting on Foucault is an enormous task. His influence permeates disparate and innumerable fields and informs so much of our thinking, along with that of many great theorists who have followed him. Foucault's influence is one of ramifying and far reaching interdisciplinary complexity, but he draws us together too, providing a common theoretical baseline to diverse disciplinary endeavours. He shows us the connections between things. Just as his life and his work connects up theoretical pursuits as diverse as queer theory and postcolonial studies, so his influence draws together and draws bridges between theorists. In so doing, Foucault's legacy muddies the theoretical waters, forcing strange synergies and theoretical configurations such as the antifoundational humanist. Growing from the murky ferment of French colonial history, the father of poststructuralism's story is as complex as that encounter, and his legacy is as mutating, unsettling and transformative. A reflection on Foucault needs to accommodate a consideration of the enormity of the shadow that such a legacy casts over continuing intellectual production.

> Proceedings

> Conference program (PDF 653 kb)

UNESCO Chair in Transnational Diasporas and Reconciliation Studies

14 October 2008

Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice Chancellor of UniSA's Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences and Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies has been appointed a UNESCO Chair in Transnational Diasporas and Reconciliation Studies. The Chair will complement UNESCO's work in the field of social transformations and will provide a valuable contribution to international dialogue and policy development on international migration and social integration. The aim of the Chair is to promote and emphasise research in the areas of transnational diasporas and reconciliation studies. This will be accomplished by holding master classes, workshops and conferences, and inviting international scholars, especially from the postcolonial world.

This project brings together scholars and experts in the field with a particular focus on diaspora studies, reconciliation studies, postcolonial studies, security studies, and cultural theory in an effort to develop new approaches to some of the most pressing issues of our times. Such research and collaborations are directly relevant to UNESCO priorities including peace, environment, human rights, cultural diversity, dialogue among civilisations as well as the basic elements necessary for sustainable development.

> More information

Strangers in a stranger land: political identity in the era of the governance state

Associate Professor Jim Jose, University of Newcastle, 25 February 2009, Magill Campus

The 'governance state' is characterised by radically reconfigured relations between public and private authority such that sovereign political authority comes to be dispersed along several axes of organised power. Paralleling the dispersal of sovereign political authority is a concomitant dispersal of familiar forms of political identity. Individuals and groups become disconnected from the familiarity of their respective social fabrics by the routine operations of a governance state having little or no concern with the nation-building agendas (and their related understandings of citizenship) of the past. Political protest is tolerated, even normalised, but the spaces for its manifestation satisfy neither the political nor emotional needs of citizens. The individualising of ethical positions creates a kind of closure in which resisting the state's authority comes to be interpreted by individuals as simply resisting their selves, their governance-state identities. This is precisely the kind of situation confronting us as contemporary citizens, an unfamiliar political terrain in which we find ourselves negotiating as strangers in a stranger land.

Jim Jose is Associate Professor in Politics in the Newcastle Business School at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. He has taught politics at a number of universities in Australia and is the author of Biopolitics of the subject: an introduction to the ideas of Michel Foucault (1998), and numerous articles on political theory, feminist theory and gender politics, and Australian politics and public policy. He is also a contributor to Anarchists and anarchist thought: an annotated bibliography, ed Paul Nursey-Bray (1992). His research interests include political theory; theories of governance; and postcolonialism and the imperial imagination.

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