The CSAA 30th Anniversary Conference will host an exciting array of plenary sessions, including keynotes and roundtables across the three days.

Keynote: Dr Vicki Couzens

Yoolongteeyt Dr Vicki Couzens is Gunditjmara citizen and Keerray Wooroong language speaker from the Western Districts of Victoria, Australia. Vicki acknowledges her Ancestors and Elders who guide her work. She is employed at RMIT as a Research Fellow developing her Project ‘watnanda koong meerreeng , tyama-ngan malayeetoo (together body and country, we know long time)’ The Project investigates how revitalisation of cultural knowledges and practices, focussing on language and creative cultural expression, impacts Aboriginal individuals, families, communities and builds resilience and capability towards sovereign nation building aspirations, opportunities and realised living legacy.

Talk topic–coming soon!

Keynote: Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer and socially-engaged artist in the School of Media & Communication at RMIT University. Hjorth has two decades experience leading mobile media projects to explore innovative methods around intergenerational connection, intimacy, games, play, loss and death in the Asia-Pacific region (Japan, South Korea, China and Australia). Hjorth has also worked extensively on how mobile media is used for grief, loss and recovery—including the Fukushima disaster (2011), Queensland floods (2011) and Australian bushfires (2020). She is passionate about creative, inventive and playful methods for community engagement, communication science, research translation and sharing images of animals doing funny stuff.

The Mourning After: A cultural studies approach to grief, witnessing and mobile media in Australia

Once upon a time, Australian media images of beautiful beaches and “dropbear” koalas represented the everyday. However as climate change disasters and pandemics become more commonplace—the unprecedented becoming precedented—narratives of grief and witnessing dominate our contemporary media culture. Mobile media practices—from Instagram pictures to online funerals and mass media images of grief—represent, interpret and memorialise grief as part of everyday life. Media narratives including mass animal death, unanticipated futures, disenfranchised (unacknowledged) grief, solastalgia (how the environment in crisis is impacting our sense of wellbeing) and more-than-human ecological grief, ecogrief. Grief is an important cultural practice which is crucial in recovery from loss and developing resilience. Given much of these narratives of grief are experienced in, with and through our mobile devices as both witnesses and companions, what can mobile media teach us aboutgrief as a reflection of contemporary Australian culture?   Drawing on a cultural studies approach to grief as a social, cultural and political practice, this talk seeks to understand Australia’s media culture as a fabric of differentiated textures of grief—that is, it is experienced in diverse ways by different people for numerous reasons. I explore some case studies that draw from human and more-than-human contexts to make sense of the plethora of relational grief practices omnipresent in our quotidian lives. I also turn to the role of indigenous knowledges and cosmology and creative practice methods to not only make visible some of these tacit rituals but also to develop a cultural studies grief literacy framework (as opposed to a psychological one). In understanding the complex role grief plays in Australian lives as a cultural practice we can think about methods for hopeful futures, social action and change.

Keynote: Associate Professor Fran Martin

Fran Martin is Reader in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. She recently concluded an ARC Future Fellowship project whose findings have been published in Dreams of Flight: The Lives of Chinese Women Students in the West (Duke U.P. 2022).  Fran’s prior research focussed on television, film, literature and other forms of cultural production in the PRC, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, with a specialization in cultures of gender and sexuality. Her monographs include Situating Sexualities: Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film, and Public Culture (HK U.P., 2003); Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary (Duke U.P. 2010); and Telemodernities: Television and Transforming Lives in Asia (with T. Lewis and W. Sun, Duke U.P. 2016).

Australian education export: What is it good for?

This paper draws on a recently concluded 5-year study of the social and subjective experiences of fifty+ young women from China through the years of their university study in Australia. It focusses on the ethical dimensions of Australia’s engagements with these students; that is, the extent to which current practices of Australian “education export” contribute to various kinds of public good. I begin by contextualising what I term the “transnational education assemblage” that links China and Australia through the vector of hundreds of thousands of mobile students, as the result of education’s commercialization in both nations. I will consider how Australian degrees are marketed to students and families in China by commercial education agents and universities, and the ethical implications of this advertising when considered in light of students’ actual experiences living in Australian cities. Drawing on these analyses, I propose that for Chinese students, Australian international education as it is currently practiced may tend to support intensifying class stratification (in China), sub-optimal social and personal wellbeing (in Australia), and identification with a neoliberal ethos at the expense of deeper cosmopolitan connection. For Australian universities, meanwhile, this type of internationalization represents one aspect of the privatization and marketization of education: properly a public good. However, centering gender in our analysis complicates this picture. This is because for Chinese women students, subjective alignment with neoliberal-style values through international education can in fact provide gendered benefits vis-à-vis their positioning in systems of familial and patriarchal power at home. The paper concludes with a utopian speculation on a future in which we might better realize international education’s potential to support mutual transformation for both Chinese students and the cultures of Australian universities.