ARC Discovery Grants

The Cultural Model of Ageing in Australian English

Prof Kate BurridgeProf Farzad Sharifian, Prof Keith Allan, Dr Reka Benczes 

2014-2016:  $170,000

Prolonged old age is one of the most significant medical and societal breakthroughs of our time. As countries like Australia prepare themselves for this ‘longevity revolution’, the current research delivers the much needed linguistic support for this important interdisciplinary area. By exploring the expressions that contemporary Australians use to talk — directly or indirectly — about growing old, the project will reveal how our society now conceptualizes a topic so often considered taboo. In addition to scholarly outcomes, this work has a very practical application in the form of information booklets and professional development courses aimed to improve the quality of aged-care services and ultimately the course and outcome of ageing.

Pacific Exposures: Australian and Japanese Photographic Exchange Since the Late Nineteenth Century

Dr Melissa Miles, Professor Robin Gerster

2014-2016: $201,000

his project reveals the historical importance of photography as a medium of cultural connection between Australia and Japan. Amateurs and professionals from both countries have long used their cameras as interpretive instruments to define the foreign encounter. Decades before the rupture of the Pacific War of 1941-45, travelling photographers helped bridge the cultural and geographical distance between Australia and Japan. In the aftermath of military conflict, and since the normalisation of bilateral relations in the 1950s, photography has facilitated mutual understanding, diplomacy and trade. This project examines photography’s role in their shared cultural history, and how it continues to shape Australia’s engagement with Japan today.

Rethinking the Victim: Gendered Violence in Australian Women’s Writing

 Prof Sue Kossew, A/Prof Anne Brewster 

2014-2017: $240,000

This project, the first to examine gendered violence in Australian literature, argues that literary texts by Australian women writers offer unique ways of understanding the social problem of gendered violence, bringing this often private and suppressed issue into the public sphere. It draws on the international field of violence studies to investigate how these writers challenge the victim paradigm and figure women’s agencies. By including white, Indigenous and minority women writers in its case studies, and by interviewing selected writers, it will shed new light on the role of gendered violence in the diverse and interconnected cultural histories of the nation and will significantly extend the parameters of the Australian literary canon.

 Improving Communication with Aboriginal English Speakers: A Study of cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English

 Prof Farzad Sharifian 


The project will explore cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English. Often unfamiliarity with Aboriginal cultural conceptualisations on the part of non-Aboriginal people leads to miscommunication, disadvantaging Aboriginal speakers, especially in institutional contexts (for example, schoolrooms, courtrooms, Centrelink offices). The aim of this study is to alleviate such problems, and significantly advance Aboriginal English research, by exploring culturally constructed conceptualisations, in particularly cultural-conceptual metaphor, underlying the use of Aboriginal English, using the the analytical tools of Cultural Linguistics. The study will also make a significant contribution to the development of Cultural Linguistics.

Sonic Practice in Japan: sound in everyday life

Prof. Carolyn S. Stevens; Assoc. Prof. T. Kohn, Dr. R. Chenhall, Prof. T. Bestor, Prof. J. Hankins, Prof. S. Hosokawa.

2013-2015: $178,000

This anthropological research focuses on ‘sonic practice’ and social relations in Japan, a way of understanding how sound is made significant to people in their everyday life. Outcomes include collaborative and sole-authored publications, and a digital repository that will be of interdisciplinary significance in the social sciences and humanities.

 Performing Authorship in the Digital Literary Sphere 

Dr Simone Murray


This project undertakes the first detailed analysis of literary authorship in the digital era to understand how networked communication technologies have made authorship both more accessible and more elite than ever before. Research findings will be disseminated internationally throughout the project via an interactive weblog open to the public.

 Locating Science Fiction

Professor Emeritus Andrew Milner

2012-2014 $239,000

The project aims to devise, develop and apply a new ‘cultural materialist’ paradigm for science fiction studies. This new paradigm will sidestep the current impasse between the ‘critical theory’ and ‘popular fiction’ approaches that currently dispute the field. It will proceed through two stages: a cultural materialist theorisation of the genesis and structure of science fiction as a genre; and a case study of science fictional representations of catastrophe, especially plague, nuclear war and extreme climate change.

Repatriation and release of Japanese war criminals 1946 1958: Southeast Asia, Japan and the Great Powers

Dr Beatrice Trefalt, Prof Sandra S Wilson, Prof Robert B Cribb
2011 – 2013: $265,000

Japanese war criminals held in Southeast Asia were repatriated and released in Japan from the late 1940s. Releases were negotiated between Japan and the nation that had convicted the prisoner. The project provides new understandings of the emergence of Southeast Asian states in regional diplomacy and of Japan’s re-emergence as a regional power.

A History of Taiwan

Professor Bruce Jacobs
2010 – 2012: $86,000

Taiwan, a middle-sized Asian nation with a population about twenty per cent greater than Australia, is one of four stable democracies in Asia along with India, Japan and South Korea. As such, it shares democratic values with Australia. We also have strong trade and investment relationships with Taiwan. China’s claim that Taiwan belongs to China has made our relationship with Taiwan difficult, though in fact we have a strong ‘officially unofficial’ relationship with the island. This history will substantially strengthen our understanding of this key Asia-Pacific partner both in government and among Australia’s citizens.

Bilingualism and Multilingualism in a National Movement: Ukrainian Writers in the Nineteenth Century

Professor Marko Pavlyshyn
2010 – 2012: $110,000

This analysis of the role of languages with different social and political roles in the formation of a modern Ukrainian literature will advance the study of Eastern Europe in Australia, foster international research links and open avenues for collaboration between humanities and social science scholars in Australia and countries of the former Soviet Union. It will contribute to research training and enhance the standing of Australian scholarship in Slavic and East European Studies. By contributing to knowledge about the gestation of nations – political and cultural units into which most people today believe themselves to belong – the project will advance the national priority goal of understanding our region and the world.

Hiroshima and Here: A Cultural History of Australian Responses to Nuclear War and Weaponry

Professor Robin Gerster

2010 – 2012

Since the destruction of Hiroshima in August 1945 through to today’s global nuclear dilemma, Australian cultural responses to nuclear weapons have been prolific and diverse. Yet this collective body of expression lies neglected, awaiting discovery. As the nation considers the political, economic and moral implications of being a major world supplier of uranium during a period of extreme regional and global instability, this is exceptionally timely research. In providing a ground-breaking model of national cultural response to one of the great international issues of our age, it will help foster academic activity and public interest in a developing field whose importance can only increase.

Digital dissent in the People’s Republic:  the language of protest and criticism in Sino cyberspace

Professor Gloria Davies
2009 – 2011: $200,000

As Australia’s relations with China continue to deepen, it is vital for Australia to acquire in depth knowledge of how rapidly China is changing as a consequence of digital information flows. The project provides that knowledge through its analysis of digital dissent.  The project explores how non state players in the People’s Republic respond and react to urgent problems in their midst. It will also shed light on present day tensions in China between state and civil society.  More specifically, the project will deepen Australia’s critical engagement with China by focussing on such issues of consequence as censorship, corruption, environmental pollution, governance reform and calls for democracy and human rights.

Aboriginal-English speaking students’ (mis)understanding of school literacy materials in Australian English

Professor Farzad Sharifian 
2008 – 2010: $144,000

Aboriginal students have a right to quality education that gives them skills for full participation in Australian society. However, in the past the education system in Australia has largely failed to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students and has to a large extent failed to equip teachers of Aboriginal children with the relevant professional development that they need. This project will directly focus on this issue of highest national priority and will make an attempt to explore Aboriginal-English speaking students’ understanding of school materials. The results will be used in Aboriginal teacher education.