Bright futures: collaborative research opportunities through the Monash Arts Faculty

Advance your organisation’s goals and contribute towards your future success by joining with us to advance research excellence in the humanities and social sciences. Recent Australian Research Council (ARC) funding success at the Monash Arts Faculty demonstrates the excellence in collaborative research opportunities supported by our University. 

Research success by the Monash Arts Faculty

The Monash University Arts Faculty is pleased to announce a large number of successful and outstanding Australian Research Council (ARC) funding applications in 2013. As a result of these achievements, Monash Arts researchers have exciting plans to conduct research that will have a major social, cultural, economic and political impact.

ARC funding awarded within Monash Arts includes 10 successful ARC Discovery Projects, 1 Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA), 1 Future Fellowship and 2 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRAs). Further, with the Monash Arts Faculty as the Administering Organisation (AO), there were an additional 7 grants that were accrued in the recent ARC results.

Up by nearly 20% in it’s overall ARC success rate since the 2011-12 funding round, Monash Arts is now firmly established as a hub of research excellence in the social sciences and humanities.

Research priorities with impact at Monash

Monash Arts is firmly represented within the University’s newly established four research priority areas which aim to bring together academic excellence through cross-disciplinary research collaboration. These areas link Monash to the Australian Government’s Strategic Research Priorities.

Recent Discovery Project ARC wins under each of the four priority areas below demonstrate the success of cross-discipline collaboration at Monash in advancing research excellence. These projects are due to commence in 2014.

Liveable Places and Sustainable Environments engages our researchers in the investigation of issues surround the global challenges of climate change and creating sustainable environments and more liveable cities and communities for future generations.

  • Extratropical Cyclones and their Associated Precipitation:  Understanding, Model Evaluation, and Future ProjectionsDr Jennifer Catto

Understanding Cultures promotes understandings of past, present and future cultural and social forces, and considers new and evolving forms of global citizenship. 

Resilient and Inclusive Societies research promotes resilient and inclusive communities at home and abroad to achieve greater social, mental and physical well being for the community.

Peace Security and Borders research works to advance our understanding of the sources of conflict, violence and harm at local, regional and international levels. 

  • Preventing Mass Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict and Non-Conflict Countries, Prof Jacqui True
  • The Exploitation of unlawful migrant labour : crime, labour and regulationDr Marie Segrave (DECRA)

  • Rethinking the Victim: Gendered Violence in Australian Women’s WritingA/Prof Anne R Brewster (UNSW)

Join in the Monash Arts Faculty collaborative research success

Interested in partnering with us to extend the impact of what we do? 

We are seeking collaborative opportunities from industry, government and community groups who are mutually interested in supporting and contributing to the advancement of research excellence. We understand and support collaboration with stakeholders to strengthen and benefit research impact.  

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The Cinema of Sean Penn to launch at Readings St Kilda

9780231176255Monash University’s Associate Professor  Deane Williams, an expert in film and screen studies, will celebrate the launch of his new book, The Cinema of Sean Penn: In and Out of Place at Readings, Acland St, St Kilda on February 25 at 6pm.

Academic Dr Noel King will launch the book, which has been published by Wallflower, London and New York 2016.

Associate Professor Williams is editor of the journal Studies in Documentary Film and co-author – with Noel King and Con Verevis – of Australian Film Theory and Criticism.

Book synopsis

Although best known as an Academy Award winning actor, Sean Penn’s directorial works The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995), The Pledge (2001), and Into the Wild (2007), consist of some of the most interesting and singular films made in the United States over the past twenty years.

Associate Professor Dean Williams.Each of Penn’s directorial films and much of the cinema he has acted in are set in an immediate past in which a “stalled” time and a restricted locale apply narrative constraints.

At the same time, these films all feature a sophisticated web of intertextual relations, involving actors, songs, books, films, and directors, and the political lineage to which Penn belongs, which reveal the deep cultural structures that concern each particular film.

To read more about The Cinema of Sean Penn, click here.

 

Getting to know Master of Journalism grad: Jenan Taylor

Jenan Taylor has been shortlisted for Melbourne Press Club's Student of the Year.
Jenan Taylor won the Melbourne Press Club’s 2014 Student Journalist of the Year for her investigative story, A Quiet Farewell.

Jenan Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has graduated from the Masters of Journalism course, while also completing a Masters of International Development and Environmental Analysis.

She won the Melbourne Press Club’s Student Journalist of the Year for her unique pauper story, A Quiet Farewell. 

Last year, Jenan also won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism.

Name: Jenan Taylor
Course: Masters of Journalism/Masters of International Development & Environmental Analysis
Faculty/Division: Arts
Dept: Journalism
Campus: Caulfield
Year graduated: 2015

What was the best aspect of studying journalism at Monash?

“The tutors and lecturers were always really honest about the industry, and always willing to offer their advice “ – Sophie Goulopoulos. Ditto!

Did you balance uni life with a job?

Yes, I worked part-time as a media officer for a disability company and then did copy-writing stints for an aged care organisation, compiled annual reports for another mob, and managed to roll out a few freelance articles for a couple of health and ilifestyle magazines.

Why did you choose to study journalism at Monash?

I had also completed my undergrad and honours degree in Communications there and decided that if I was going to follow what I really wanted to do – journalism – then it would be under the guiding hand of Monash journalism.

What is your dream job?

Literary Journo – writing about everything from environment to medical to tech to crime to arts just as long as it involves being able to show that there is news in stories.

Who has been your biggest career influence and why?

There are a lot of journalists whose careers I’ve secretly followed for a very long time. Sarah Ferguson, Andrew Rule, John Van Tiggelen, Trent Dalton and US literary journalists, John McPhee and Katherine Boo, among many others, all demonstrate doggedness and originality.

First job?

Working in a corner Milk Bar when I was 16.

Worst job?

Working in the corner Milk Bar.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?

Cape Town, South Africa. I grew up there and the people, music and food are unforgettable. So’s the scenery. But there are places in Australia where you could step out the front door and almost believe there’s going to be a large mountain (Table Mountain) to greet you, too.

What is your favourite place to eat and why?

I’m a dumplings or curry person, really. So any place where the tables are packed with people with like-minded tastebuds is the place to be, for me.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Get all the experience you can get in the media, don’t be afraid to try new things and be flexible.

Tell us something about yourself that your uni colleagues wouldn’t know?
I have a black belt. In kung fu!

 

Prof. Margaret Kartomi won the Koizumi prize in Ethnomusicology

Professor Margaret Kartomi from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has recently received news that she is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Koizumi prize in Ethnomusicology.

The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in Tokyo in May 2016 in which Professor Kartomi will also give an address on her research work.

Named after distinguished Japanese musicologist Fumio Koizumi, the prize was established in 1989. The list of previous recipients of the prize includes such figures as John Blacking, José Maceda, William P. Malm, Bruno Nettl, Tran Van Khe, Jean-Jacques Nattier, Steven Feld, Simha Aron, and other ethnomusicologists whose work has shaped the international landscape of contemporary ethnomusicology.

This award is a rare distinction for outstanding achievement.

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What are the real risks of Zika?

by Michael Selgelid and Euzebiusz Jamrozik

Zika has raised alarm bells worldwide, prompting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of a “public health emergency”, El Salvador’s dramatic recommendation that women delay pregnancy for two years, and the US Centres for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation that pregnant women consider postponing travel to Zika-affected countries.

The concern is that Zika may cause microcephaly, a birth defect that leaves infants with smaller heads and/or incomplete brain development.

But despite all the hype, crucial scientific and ethical questions about the virus remain unanswered. Exactly how great is the risk that Zika infection during pregnancy would result in a baby with microcephaly? And what can or should be done to prevent this?

Need for more and better data

The belief that Zika might cause microcephaly is largely based on a recent spike in reported numbers of cases in Brazil. The virus has been detected in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women with microcephalic babies. There is also an apparent increase in the severity of microcephaly (smaller head sizes) in Brazil.

However, estimates of microcephaly cases in Brazil are in the process of being revised down. This suggests there may have been a transition from under-counting to over-counting of cases.

Other possible causes of increased microcephaly – infections such as rubella and cytomegalovirus (a member of the herpes family), as well as malnutrition and heavy alcohol consumption – should also be considered.

The World Health Organisation admits it has not yet been scientifically proven that Zika causes microcephaly.

Assessing the risk

Even if Zika sometimes causes pregnant mothers to have babies with microcephaly, this does not necessarily mean every infected mother would have an affected baby.

Assessing the risks of Zika thus requires knowing the percentage of infected pregnant women who give birth to babies with microcephaly. If this percentage is higher than the percentage of uninfected women (which has not, to date, been shown), it might be safe to conclude that Zika increases the relative risk of microcephaly.

Even then, the absolute risk that an infected pregnant woman will give birth to an affected infant might still be quite low.

Microcephaly usually affects only a tiny number of newborn children, perhaps around 0.02% (or 2 in 10,000).

If, hypothetically, it turns out that infection with Zika makes a pregnant woman 100 times more likely (than the average uninfected pregnant woman) to give birth to a baby with microcephaly, only (around) 2% of infected women would be expected to have affected babies. This could have significant public health impacts.

It is questionable, however, whether a 2% chance that infected pregnant women would end up with affected fetuses would provide a good reason for all women in countries such as El Salvador or Brazil to delay pregnancy.

It remains to be seen, but the absolute risk that an infected pregnant mother gives birth to an affected baby might turn out to be (much) lower or higher than 2%.

Selective abortion

Regardless of how high the absolute risk of Zika turns out to be, prenatal ultrasound testing could enable the detection and termination of severely affected fetuses.

However, such services are often not available. For religious reasons, abortion laws are especially restrictive in Latin America, where Zika is most prevalent.

The poor are often less likely to have easy access to prenatal ultrasound testing. Even with ultrasound, microcephaly is difficult to detect in early pregnancy, which means abortion, if used, would need to be in the second or third trimester.

Abortion, of course, is ethically controversial. In addition to cases of rape and when pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother, however, abortion to prevent birth of severely disabled offspring is one of the cases where it is most commonly considered to be ethically acceptable.

Abortion to prevent microcephaly, on the other hand, is not a decision to be taken lightly. Microcephaly varies widely in severity: some microcephalic children develop severe intellectual impairment, some are moderately affected, and a small proportion have few, if any, impairments.

Inclusive social policies should aim to provide a high quality of life for all children. But, equally, all women should have access to prenatal care (including testing for microcephaly, Zika and other infections) and be free to make their own decisions regarding termination of pregnancy. It’s time for Brazil to revise its highly restrictive abortion policy.

Protecting the vulnerable

The rates of Zika, like those of many infections and other risk factors for microcephaly, are highest in disadvantaged populations. These people already lack access to health care and disease control. Even simple measures to avoid mosquitoes (and sexual transmission) are often unavailable to those living in poverty.

Improved public health data collection (surveillance) and increased access to prenatal care (including testing for microcephaly, Zika and other infections) would help clarify the risks of Zika, enable prevention of birth of affected babies (for those who might choose abortion) and remedy unjust health outcomes more generally.

The most worrying aspect of the Zika crisis is arguably that it might be a sign of things to come. The same dynamics that are driving this outbreak also contribute to emergence and re-emergence of other infectious diseases. Urbanisation, deforestation, globalisation, inequality between rich and poor, and climate change all play a role.

Climate change promotes mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, which has recently spread to the continental United States. Other climate-sensitive mosquitoes carry malaria, which causes hundreds of thousands of childhood deaths every year.

Increased rates of mosquito-borne disease should compel stronger international action on climate change and investment in infectious disease surveillance, research, treatment and prevention. The World Health Organisation’s declaration of a public health emergency will hopefully lead to such outcomes.The Conversation

Michael Selgelid is the Director for the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University and Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Bioethics. Euzebiusz Jamrozik is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Bachelor of Global Studies Welcome Lecture: Special guest Skateistan’s Oliver Percovich

Skateistan1This year’s Bachelor of Global Studies Welcome Lecture will feature a keynote address by Oliver Percovich, founder of Skateistan. Skateistan is a multi-award winning non-profit international organisation combining skateboarding with education opportunities in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. 

Join us for this annual event to hear about Skateistan’s work globally and learn about the Monash Bachelor of Global Studies Program. The Bachelor of Global Studies is designed for students who aspire to be social change makers and allows students of the program to think about global challenges in innovative and critical ways. 

This event celebrates the new academic year, and will also be an opportunity to hear from Dean of Arts, Professor Rae Francis, as well as other teaching staff from the Bachelor of Global Studies Program. 

Event Details

Time/Date: Wednesday 2nd March, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Location: Theatre S1, 43 Rainforest Walk, Monash Clayton Campus

Registration: Register online for this event.

Find out more:

Bachelor of Global Studies

 

Timor Sea maritime border dispute under the microscope

The maritime boundaries dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste will be discussed by representatives from the Australian and Timor-Leste governments, and experts in international law at a public seminar in Melbourne next week.

A symposium hosted by Monash and Swinburne Universities on Monday 15 February will bring together representatives from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Timor-Leste government and leading academic experts from Australia and Indonesia to examine the dispute and inform potential solutions on maritime boundaries.

Co-convener Dr Sara Niner, from Monash University said it was important to include Indonesian perspectives in the symposium, as the delimitation of a maritime border in the Timor Sea would ultimately be a trilateral negotiation.

“Indonesia and Timor-Leste have recently commenced maritime boundary negotiations but Australia has not so far been willing to negotiate a maritime boundary with Timor-Leste,” Dr Niner said.

“The symposium will cover the historical context of the dispute, comparative boundary determinations, perspectives in international law, and updates on the current court cases.”

A two-hour public seminar addressing the social development impacts of the maritime boundary dispute will follow at the State Library on Tuesday 16 February (12-2pm). It will feature Monash alumna and Timor-Leste’s former first lady Kirsty Sword Gusmao AO as well as Monash University experts.

Dr Niner said the Timor-Leste Studies Association has organised the international maritime law symposium and the social development seminar to improve public understanding of the issues at stake in the dispute, and the development implications of the dispute for Timor-Leste and Australia.

‘Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea: Perspectives in International Law’ will be held on Monday 15 February, 10am-5pm, Auditorium 1-3, Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale Street.

‘Crocodiles in the Timor Sea: development and socio-economic implications of the maritime resources dispute’ will be held on Tuesday 16 February, 12-2pm, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street. 

A full program of speaker details and session times is available on the Timor-Leste Studies Association website, www.tlstudies.org/Seminars.html.   

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No prospect of release: Kevin Crump and the human rights implications of life imprisonment

Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Monash University and Wendy O’Brien, Deakin University

A NSW court last week dismissed Kevin Crump’s latest appeal against his natural life sentence. Crump, who has served nearly 42 years in prison for murder, has been formally denied any prospect of a meaningful life outside prison walls.

The decision provides a timely opportunity to reconsider the viability of terms of life without parole. It further entrenches the use of terms of life without parole in Australia despite moves overseas to restrict – and in some cases eradicate – them.

Background

Crump was sentenced in 1974 to two terms of life imprisonment for the 1973 murder of Ian Lamb and conspiracy to murder Virginia Morse. Crump was not convicted for Morse’s murder as it occurred in Queensland, outside the NSW court’s jurisdiction.

Unless expressly sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, prisoners sentenced to life in prison are ordinarily entitled to apply, in time, for a fixed (or determinate) sentence – after which they may apply for release on parole. This is no longer possible for Crump, whose prospects for release are hampered in two ways.

First, Crump’s application for sentence determination resulted in the 1997 decision that he serve a minimum of 30 years for Lamb’s murder, with a further sentence for the remainder of his natural life. Crump was also sentenced to a further term of 25 years for his role in the conspiracy to murder Morse.

Second, Crump’s initial sentence in 1974 attracted a judicial recommendation that he never be released. This carried no legal force at that time. But since then, the introduction and retrospective application of reform to NSW sentencing law has given this recommendation legal force. This stripped Crump of any meaningful prospect of release.

NSW now denies parole eligibility for prisoners with non-release recommendations until they have first served 30 years, and then been found to be so incapacitated by ill health or imminent death that they are unable to cause harm.

The High Court dismissed Crump’s challenge to this legislation in 2012. This left an appeal against the 1997 sentencing determination as his only remaining hope for release.

Crump’s appeal

In his latest appeal, Crump sought leave to appeal the 1997 sentence determination on the grounds of “miscarriage of justice” and “severity of sentence”. Crump argued that:

  • his involvement in Lamb’s murder was not “worst category” offending that warranted a term of life imprisonment; and

  • the conspiracy to murder and other convictions should not have been taken into consideration in determining Crump’s sentence for Lamb’s murder.

If these two points were supported, leave to appeal was sought for a determination of Crump’s natural life sentence. A revised sentence, it was argued, would be more proportionate to the gravity of the crime committed.

The Court of Appeal found that the sentence imposed on Crump was neither “manifestly or obviously excessive”. It also found that while Crump’s involvement in Lamb’s murder was not “worst” case, the minimum sentence imposed must reflect the overall criminality for all offences.

With Crump’s concurrent life sentences upheld, he has now been denied any hope of release.

Rethinking life without parole

Every state and territory in Australia permits sentences of life without parole. Life sentences are imposed with the understanding that, given the gravity of the offence, there is a need to prioritise denunciation, just punishment and community protection.

As such, terms of life imprisonment have come to be associated with the worst of the worst: people who have been convicted of mass murder, killing children, or killing a public figure.

Popular perception may well hold that Crump’s brutal crimes warrant a sentence of life without parole. Recent high-profile homicides committed by parolees have, understandably, exacerbated public concern surrounding the release of serious violence offenders and have engendered support for life terms of imprisonment.

However, cases that generate a groundswell of community fear and outrage can have a pernicious effect on the legal responses affecting those before the law. Concerns surrounding the community’s protection, the (in)adequacy of decision-making by state parole boards and the effectiveness of prison as a site for rehabilitation do not justify the denial of human rights for those convicted of the most serious offences.

All persons before the law, regardless of the offence committed, deserve to have their human rights preserved.

The decision to impose whole life orders and remove all possibility of release arguably breaches international human rights standards that expressly ban inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, and promote proportionality in sentencing.

Australia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In Article 10, it expressly provides that the essential aim of prison should be to provide prisoners with treatment aimed at their reformation and reintegration.

In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that all persons sentenced to life imprisonment have a right to both the prospect of release as well as a review of sentence. It said that a failure to provide both of these rights breaches international standards against inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

Australia is by no means bound by this ruling. But, as a country that claims to uphold the human rights of all people – including those before the law – Australia should take notice of international practice.

The Crump decision signals the need for a national review of the use of whole-of-life terms of imprisonment. This would ensure that Australia is apace with emerging ideas about best practice in the European life-sentencing debate. It would also provide an opportunity to introduce sentencing reform that seeks to prevent further human rights infringements for individuals before the law.The Conversation

Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a  Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University. Her co-author, Wendy O’Brien is also a lecturer In Criminology at Deakin University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Radio regular: Politics lecturer joins ABC Radio segment

Zareh Ghazarian
Dr Zareh Ghazarian will be a regular on ABC Radio from 3 February 2016.

Dr Zareh Ghazarian, a lecturer from the School of Social Sciences, will feature in a new fortnightly segment to discuss national politics on ABC Radio.

The regular appearance of Dr Ghazarian continues the strong tradition of Monash academics showcasing the teaching and research capabilities across the University. Dr Ghazarian himself is a familiar voice in Australian media, and is regularly sought after for political commentary.

“This is an exciting opportunity to transmit research to a wide audience,” said Dr Ghazarian.

“It will also allow our research to have broader recognition”.

“There will be no shortage of important issues to discuss, especially as this is an election year in Australia as well as in the United States of America”.

The segments will be from 9.30 to 10am on ABC Central Victoria every second Wednesday starting 3 February and can be heard on ABC radio, digital and online.

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Professor Rita Wilson elected at the Executive Council of international translation body

Congratulations to Professor Rita Wilson, Head of School of LLCL, who has just been elected at the Executive Council of IATIS, the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies.

The IATIS is a world-wide forum designed to enable scholars from different regional and disciplinary backgrounds to debate issues pertinent to translation and other forms of intercultural communication.

The role of the governing body of IATIS, which Prof Wilson was elected to, is to establish an organisational structure that will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise and resources among scholars in various parts of the world; to stimulate interaction among scholars in different geographical regions; and to encourage scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to explore areas of mutual concern.

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LLCL’s Anna Poletti chairs Social Media and Identity discussion at NGV

 The School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics’ Dr Anna Poletti will host an ‘Open Studio’ discussion as part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibition. 

The third event in the ‘Open Studio’ Series, the discussion (‘Social Media and Identity‘) will centre on Warhol and Ai’s representations of themselves and relate this to how social media affects the way we represent ourselves online and offline. 

Dr Poletti, along with other speakers, will pose the following questions:

  • How do we balance the use of social media as a tool for personal expression and experimentation with our knowledge of who is looking at our posts?
  • Can we use social media to resist or reframe our relationship to social, professional or personal identity categories such as “teacher”, “artist”, “mother”?
  • What is the relationship between what we see on social media and “real life” (whatever that may be)?

Date: Sunday March 20th / 2 pm

Location: NGV International 

Tickets: Bookings are not required. Exhibition Fees apply and entry to the exhibition can be purchased at NGV on the day. 

Dr Anna Poletti is a lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University, and is also Director of the Centre for the Book – a print culture research centre based in Monash Arts. 

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Lacking a script, individuals drove the evolution of prime ministerial power

Article by Paul Strangio, Monash University; James Walter, Monash University, and Paul ‘t Hart, Utrecht University

The Australian Federation was established to address issues that seemed best resolved collectively rather than by each of the colonies acting alone (such as in defence), to co-ordinate activities that would benefit from uniformity (such as immigration and postal services), and to break down barriers to national economic development (like border tariffs between colonies).

The constitution’s purpose was to define specific powers, to be exercised at federal level, with all residual powers to remain with the states. In deference to established ideas of states’ sovereignty, federal power was intentionally circumscribed. In effect the prime minister’s power was constrained.

The issue for each prime minister described in our new book, Settling the Office: The Australian Prime Ministership from Federation to Reconstruction, was how to work effectively within those bounds. Almost all at some stage decided that the limitation of the prime minister’s remit was unequal to the challenge and tried to amend the Constitution.

Only four out of the 24 referenda they initiated were passed:

Despite these frustrations, prime ministers embraced the view that their office was “the blue ribbon of the highest possible ambition”. Each would share something of Edmund Barton’s goal to create “a nation for a continent”.

The leadership task was to harness those twin drives, of personal ambition and national creation, to the resolution of concrete questions. How was a prime minister to identify “national” issues and to become the national voice for collective action? And how could he gain the authority to speak and act in the national interest?

The prime ministership’s changing nature

Alfred Deakin and his contemporaries invented the Australian prime ministership. But it was not settled as a platform for national leadership until John Curtin and Chifley managed to turn it into the pivot of government to which we have since become accustomed.

Its evolution from the early Federation years to the postwar nation-building years was not a matter of linear progression. There was no grand design to guide it, no “Canberra consensus” to drive it forward. The office was made up as its holders went along. They shaped what it meant to be prime minister through their personal leadership styles and their responses to the circumstances they encountered.

Precedent, procedure and public service support structures could not be leveraged to provide the prime minister with an institutional authority that could be wielded when other political powerhouses – state premiers, partyrooms and factions – flexed their muscles. They simply did not yet exist.

Neither were foreign examples, even obvious ones such as Britain or Canada, turned to in search for a script for the office.

The absence of such a script allowed for the great stylistic contrasts between Deakin, Andrew Fisher, Billy Hughes and Bruce in particular. Who leads a government matters – it always does – but in the early decades of the Australian Commonwealth it perhaps mattered most.

For the early prime ministers there was little else to fall back on but their personal skills, zest and wits. Much would depend on individual preferences: to capitalise on charisma (Deakin), to personalise every battle (Hughes), to insist on process (Bruce), to prioritise the cause (Fisher). There was little administrative support. Cabinet processes were informal and fluid.

Parliamentary majorities, delivered by a disciplined party system, were not yet assured. Some prime ministers, such as Fisher and Bruce, took an interest in building up institutional arrangements for the office. Others, particularly Hughes but also James Scullin and Joseph Lyons, ignored or abolished some of the fledgling support mechanisms their predecessors had put in place.

All had to learn the exercise of party management, cabinet discipline, proper administration and public communication as the preconditions for authority.

What the early prime ministers had in common, however, was that they lacked institutional clout. The initial federal settlement had delivered scant powers to the Commonwealth. All prime ministers from Barton to Chifley struggled to appropriate more, in protracted, sometimes intense and often frustrating clashes with the states, industry and the unions.

Bruce saw most clearly the need to develop the office as a public institution with the processes and resources to ensure control. But facing an extraneous challenge – economic decline – he would over-reach. His institution-building was subsequently eroded. The cleanest route for changing the balance of powers in favour of the Commonwealth government – by referendum – rarely delivered the desired outcomes.

Instead, prime ministers often depended upon critical moments created by unusual external events to provide them with a rationale to wage such battles. The two world wars in particular provided opportunities for increasing the power of the Commonwealth – and thus for the prime minister.

In 1914, Fisher no longer had the stamina to try; Hughes seized the moment energetically but erratically. Twenty years later, Menzies lacked political momentum to exploit the advent of war to increase federal power.

Curtin and Chifley did so more methodically and much more successfully. They took hold of the purse strings, laid the foundations of a national welfare state, and built a professional federal public service. They succeeded where their mentor Scullin had failed when he was confronted with that other great international crisis – the Depression.

Instead of being able to leverage it to strengthen the office, Menzies had been overwhelmed by the divisions that the challenge had created in his party and across the country. And he could not call on the emergency powers conferred by war.

But even a deft institution-builder like Chifley would experience the limits of prime-ministerial power when he tried to nationalise banking, even though, by 1949, the office had acquired institutional clout. His failure of judgement is a salutary reminder that while we need to understand the possibilities of the institution – and the historical contingencies in which it is enmeshed – we must never lose sight of the character of our leaders.


This is an edited extract from Settling the Office: The Australian Prime Ministership from Federation to Reconstruction by Paul Strangio, Paul ‘t Hart and James Walter (The Miegunyah Press).The Conversation

The writers of this post are Paul Strangio, Associate Professor of Politics at Monash University; James Walter, Professor of Political Science at Monash University, and Paul ‘t Hart, Professor of Public Administration, Utrecht School of Governance, at Utrecht University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Journalism trials support tutorial program for international students

International students taking an introductory journalism unit at the Caulfield campus say they benefitted from a trial support tutorial program.

The program aimed to help them with generating stories, writing in English in a manner appropriate for journalism formats, and approaching people for interviews.

Six students enrolled in ATS1328 – particularly those who had recently arrived in Australia for their studies – were encouraged to attend the support tutorial program run by journalism academic Nasya Bahfen.

“While these international students enrolled in journalism demonstrate the ability to find strong story ideas through their networks – from social media, for example, or through scouring local council websites – we concluded it would benefit the students to guide them with the mechanics of developing the ideas into fully-fledged stories to complete the unit’s assignments,” explained Dr Bahfen.

All six students successfully passed the hurdle requirement of ‘pitching’ a successful story idea to the unit chair for their final assignment.

They followed through with some very impressive stories for that final assignment including a story on safe spaces for queer international students, and one on a potluck project bringing recent immigrants and international students together with longer term Australian residents.

One ATS1328 international student successfully pitched her story to Mojo (the Monash journalism outlet) on life after football.

Among her interviewees was a retired Sydney Swans footballer now working for a local council in Melbourne, from a prominent Aussie Rules football family.

Another student in the program interviewed the head of the state’s dairy industry regulator following up on a story of a child who died from anaphylactic shock after consuming a coconut drink that wasn’t labelled correctly with dairy ingredients.

Students say they have applied the knowledge gained in the ATS1328 support tutorials to other journalism practice units they are taking, and have sought advice from Dr Bahfen and from the unit chair about further journalism practice units to take in second and third year.

The tutorial support program will be further developed for future semesters and international cohorts.

Links to some of the students’ stories:

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New York Field School delivers Journalism students to iconic industry sites

The students and staff in Manhattan, New York.
The students and staff in Manhattan, New York.

Masters students have benefitted from a life-changing experience when they participated in a new Monash overseas program, Journalism Futures: New York Field School.

The students, under the guidance of Journalism lecturers Deb Anderson and Stephanie Brookes, learned from journalism and political leaders in major organisations in New York and Washington DC over 10 days in December.

Each student drew from scholarly and popular literature as well their immersive experience to formulate an individual research project, adopting a case-study approach to their topic.

A range of iconic and cutting-edge newsrooms and institutions opened their doors to the students.

In New York, site visits included the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press (AP), Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, The New York Times printing facility, Mother Jones magazine, the Paley Center for Media (Museum of Television & Radio) and the US National 9/11 Memorial Museum.

In Washington DC, the students gained exclusive access to the Press Gallery and a US Senate office at Capitol Hill. Then they visited BuzzFeed, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, US News & World Report and Georgetown University’s media school – also meeting journalists from The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Politico reported.ly and The Hill.

“It was such a thrill to show students the ways change and innovation are sweeping through these newsrooms,” said Dr Anderson, who created the program together with Dr Brookes.

The Wall Street Journal newsroom’s digital hub - Journalism study tour
The Wall Street Journal newsroom’s digital hub.

“We designed the unit to show what it is like to be a media practitioner today – and how news values are shifting to capture shifting audiences.

“In turn, the class of Monash students on tour showed us different ways of thinking about the future of journalism. They shared their hopes, dreams and creative responses to challenges facing the news media.

“Stephanie and I felt privileged to share such an experience with these incredible minds, for these students will help shape the future of the news industry.”

Monash Head of Journalism, Associate Professor Phil Chubb, said the students enjoyed a productive study tour.

“Reading the Facebook site set up for students doing this trip while they were away – as well as after they got back – was an eye opener,” Assoc Professor Chubb said.

“For many of the students this Monash field trip to New York and Washington was a life-changing experience. I was proud of our staff and students.”

Student Tiffany Korssen at The New York Times printing facility.
Student Tiffany Korssen at The New York Times printing facility.

Dr Anderson and Dr Brookes aim to expand the program this year, building on feedback from the 2015 cohort, adding more sites to the tour.

“With the New York Field School we aim to give Monash students the confidence to approach and work with people in leading communications and news outlets,” Dr Anderson said.

“It’s about gaining an international edge in a very competitive job market. It’s also about students learning from each other in a foreign context –connecting with their peers.”

Master of Communications and Media Studies student Cameron Grimes agreed. He said the 2015 tour was an unrivalled opportunity to meet people in the global media industry.

And he found one of the best parts of the tour was “connecting with other students and learning about each other’s interests and passions”.

Master of Journalism student Tiffany Korssen used the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience for her CV. She applied for a coveted News Corporation traineeship while on the US study tour – with success.

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Sociology’s Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett awarded MPA Supervisor of the Year 2015

Dr Helen Forbes-MewittCongratulations to Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett who has been awarded the honour of MPA Supervisor of the Year for 2015.

Each year, the Monash Postgraduate Association asks postgraduate students from all faculties to nominate an academic who they believe has made an outstanding contribution in the area of postgraduate supervision.

At a ceremony held on 14 January 2016 hosted by the MPA Executive and attended by postgraduate students, senior academics and administrators,Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett, was given the award.

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and supervises students researching a range of topics relating to human security and cultural diversity. 

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New international Journalism unit teams up with Engineers Without Borders

Applications are now open for Journalism’s new international unit, which will run in 2016 and 2017.

This unit will see small groups of journalism students join an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) study tour of either Cambodia, India or Nepal.

Students will be tasked with finding and creating journalism stories about EWB and other non-government organisations working in these developing countries. 

Monash Journalism teacher Nick Parkin will personally lead the tours, and will give practical advice and direction to students as they go about creating engaging works of international journalism.

Find out more about the unit, how to apply and deadlines on the School of Media, Film and Journalism’s website. 

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Journalism students bring tennis history to life in new interactive website

To celebrate Australia’s rich history in tennis, Monash Journalism has collaborated withThe Australian newspaper and Tennis Australia to produce historical digital interactives of the Australian Open tennis tournament.

The project, which documents the story of Australia’s Grand Slam, was written and designed by Monash journalism students and Masters of Multimedia Design students over a six-month period.

Journalism’s creative director and student, Matt Johnson, coordinated the team of students, researchers and designers to create visual histories of the Australian Open.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 9.56.09 am

View the Australian Open – The story of our Grand Slam here.

The multimedia design students include a team of talented international students who have shared design ideas with journalism undergraduate students.

Mr Johnson said the many obstacles faced by the cohort during the experience made completing the final products all the more exhilarating.

“Collaborating with the multimedia and journalism students from diverse cultural backgrounds while piecing together two major projects in a restricted period of time was an immense challenge,” Mr Johnson said.

“I think the execution of the final products is a testament to the resoluteness the cohort carried throughout the six months.

“The two pieces hold journalistic merit while being visually driven and have given us a taste of the interactive flavour of modern-day online journalism.”

School of Media, Film and Journalism digital coordinator Julie Tullberg and multimedia design lecturers Jeff Janet and Neil Minot have developed the collaborative program since producing Troops in Terror Zone for The Australian in 2014.

The second project, Saints’ long road to heaven, was highly commended in the 2015 Ossie Awards.

The production of digital interactives, which features cutting-edge technology, is an innovative step for this level of cross-faculty collaboration within the teaching structure of the digital and multimedia units.

The journalism students involved contributed the research, interviews, writing, filming, subbing and guided the narrative direction of the project, while the design students brought this vision to life through striking design and interactive elements.

Mrs Tullberg said the journalism and multimedia design students developed many skills in the program, including problem solving, team building, writing and editing skills.

“Our students have enjoyed challenging themselves to produce outstanding journalism for industry,” Mrs Tullberg said.

“The journalism and multimedia design students worked well together, sharing ideas and building friendships while exceeding expectations within the program.”

The historical tennis project is a tribute to Australian players, who have inspired a nation through their heroic efforts on the Australian Open’s centre court, and entertained millions of fans worldwide.

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To fight terrorism, Indonesia needs to move beyond security measures

Noor Huda Ismail

Indonesian police have named a convicted terrorist, Afif Sunakim, as one of five perpetrators of Islamic State-linked bombings and shootings in Jakarta that killed eight people, including four attackers, last Thursday.

Indonesia is considering amending its counter-terrorism laws to respond to the phenomenon of returned foreign fighters from Syria.

But fighting terrorism purely through security measures will not be enough. Indonesia should devise policies to rehabilitate and monitor former convicted terrorists to prevent recidivism. The government should also work with civil society to counter the spread of extremism online.

Preventing recidivism by ex-terror convicts

The Indonesian police have arrested more than 1200 people on terrorism charges, according to data from the counter-terrorism unit. Some convicted terrorists seemed to become more radical behind bars. At least 40 convicted terrorists have re-offended after release.

Afif Sunakim was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to seven years in jail for his role in a militant training camp in Aceh. In prison, he became the masseuse for Aman Abdurrahman, one of Indonesia’s most influential jihadi ideologues and a vocal promoter of Islamic State (IS).

My series of interviews with terrorist recidivists suggests that the majority of them believe that jihad is a religious obligation. In a purely linguistic sense, the word “jihad” means struggling or striving. It can refer to the internal as well as external struggle to be a good Muslim. However, for terrorists, jihad means to fight against Indonesia’s secular regime.

There is a common understanding among jihadists that if they are imprisoned, they are simply taking leave. Upon release, they will be ready to rejoin the movement. With this kind of belief, no matter the situation former terrorist inmates face, there is a big chance they will return to their terrorist groups and carry out further attacks.

A prominent terrorist, convicted in 2004, is an example of such recidivism. He was released in 2008. He was then involved in weapons training in Aceh in 2010. In his opinion, as long as what he believes in is right, he will have no other option than to act, whether inside or outside prison. He said:

A committed mujahideen will not be limited by any condition or situation beyond himself.

Additionally, there is a desire among convicted terrorists to experiment or retry what they failed to achieve. A convicted terrorist now on the run after a prison break in Medan was involved in the Lippo Bank robbery in Medan in 2003 and again in the CIMB Niaga Bank robbery in 2010. He said:

If jihad acts fail, it is most likely that improved jihad acts will be tried again later.

The choice for a released convicted terrorist is stark. Do I return to the pathway of jihad or do I re-enter society to follow a normal life? If he lives in a difficult social and economic situation, with a lack of education and a family that does not support him, it is most likely that a former terrorist inmate will return to the jihadist community, where he will be protected and cared for.

A 2013 report by the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict showed that Indonesia’s judicial system has insufficient funds, infrastructure and resources to handle the successful rehabilitation of former terrorists. This lack of post-detention care leaves terrorist inmates at risk of returning to violence, because they are not being properly assessed. They do not receive sufficient re-programming to prepare them to return to mainstream society.

Indonesia needs to set up special placement, supervision, development and rehabilitation programs for former terrorists. The government must train corrections officers to actively engage with former inmates, to support them in finding a new calling in life and to mentor them while doing so.

Countering radical narratives online

The second challenge is to stop IS spreading extremism over the internet.

IS propaganda has created a hype and fad among Muslim youths around the world about a fantasy idea that violent armed struggle against non-Muslims and Muslims identified as “enemies of Islam” is a “jihad” that requires urgent participation.

IS has also created a false hope and a perception that the perfect government system based on the purest Islamic principles has been implemented and is working – but that it still requires Muslims from “impure” Muslim and non-Muslim lands.

Until now the Indonesian government – let alone civil society – has made no systematic effort to challenge the arguments of jihadists on social media. The jhadists are cleverly targeting individuals at risk, mainly young people. These at-risk people tend to spend their time online rather than offline and enjoy being “liked” on Facebook.

If extremists have successfully employed social media to spread their message on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we also need to create a campaign on social media to counter their movement. We can take a closer look at how “creative” extremists use technology to spread their ideology by monitoring their videos and reading their tweets and online posts.

With the help of civil society, the Indonesian government could launch campaigns on social media to challenge the extremist narratives.

Terrorism is rooted in a belief in an extreme ideology. If we want to prevent acts of terror from happening again, we should strive to prevent the young from being won over by extremists’ messages. We should also find a way to change the minds of those convicted of terrorism so they will not return to their old ways.The Conversation

Noor Huda Ismail is PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations at the School of Social Sciences

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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David Bowie in the divided city of Berlin

by Andrea Jean Baker

Music icon, David Bowie has died.

Bowie’s life has been under the microscope since he burst on the scene in 1969 with the hit, Space Oddity. But few have examined how the divided city of Berlin saved this extraordinary artist when he was at his lowest ebb.

By the mid-1970s, the struggling rocker Davy Jones, who took the stage name of David Bowie, was at his peak. But as he told music magazine NME in 1980:

that whole period stretching through to ‘76 was probably the worst year or year and a half of my life.

It’s hard to imagine a time when he went unrecognised, but, in 1976, when Bowie arrived in West Berlin and walked into a cabaret bar to sing a Frank Sinatra song during a karaoke night, Bowie was booed off stage as the punters did not know who he was!

“I never felt free as I did in Berlin”, Bowie told journalist Charles Sharr Murray from NME.

Berlin: the place to be

Away from the limelight, the boy from Bromley, Brixton (via Los Angeles) arrived in Berlin a “superstar haunted by ghosts”, according to German music journalist Tobias Rüther in his book Heroes, David Bowie and Berlin (2015).

He detoxed from his drug habit, painted (like the German neo-expressionists, such as Erich Heckel) and composed some of the most daring music of his career; Low and Heroes in 1977, and Lodger two years later, after he’d left Berlin.

Katya Lucker, head of the Music Board, the contemporary peak music organisation set up in Berlin in 2013 told me, “Bowie was a seminal player in the Berlin music culture.”

Bowie told Tobias Rüther American and British rock and roll was a toothless tiger. He was more intrigued by the radical German electronic music of the 1970s by bands such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Neu!, with their monotone rhythms, endless repetition and improvisation.

In the divided city, he became good friends with Edgar Froese, the founder of Tangerine Dream, who helped Bowie find an apartment (150 Hauptstrasse, Schoneberg) and (eventually) get off cocaine and heroin.

By the time he left Berlin, he was clean, Froese told me a few months before he died in January 2015. He also recommended the famed Hansa recording studio to Bowie. Located near the Berlin Wall, the studio was once a Nazi ballroom.

Recording at the Hansa studio, the “Big Hall by the Wall” gave Bowie a “sense of being on the edge…I have to put myself in those situations to produce good writing, I need the dangerous level, emotionally, mentally and physically,“ he told Froese.

The Berlin Trilogy

Inside the Hansa studio, along with his long-time collaborator Tony Visconti (who also worked with Marc Bolan and T Rex), and Brian Eno (formerly of Roxy Music, known as “the music for airport man”), Bowie nutted out his Berlin Trilogy.

The first album Low, which was recorded in France but completed in Berlin, moved away from pop conventions to simple, electronic ambient sound, with hardly any lyrics.

The hit of the album, Sound and Vision was, according to Slate magazine, a song “about depression and isolation […] that was set to a melody so bright and catchy that it became a No. 3 single in the U.K.”

Its spacey effects, created by Eno’s AKS synthesizer and Visconti’s Harmonizer, kept other music producers guessing for years.

In 2015, Mojo magazine ranked Sound and Vision fourth out its 100 greatest Bowie hits. While Heroes, the titular hit of the next album, described by journalist Neil Stewart as a “howl of outrage and despair,” was ranked second. It’s the most famed song of the Berlin Trilogy.

In 1978, Bowie began work on Lodger, which was about about a homeless traveller, with no connection to Berlin. Recorded in Switzerland and New York City, Lodger was influential as “world music”, but is the least celebrated of the Berlin Trilogy.

“Nothing else sounded like those albums. My complete being is within those three. They are my DNA,” Bowie told Rüther.

But who was the greatest influence on Bowie during his time in Berlin? Iggy Pop, who some say Bowie exploited by controlling him sexually and artistically? Or Eno? Visconti?

I’d say it was the city of Berlin, although the name of the city is never mentioned in any of the 32 tracks Bowie wrote there.

Like Berlin, Bowie was in the process of becoming more powerful in everyone’s imagination. In Berlin, the once hypnotic and volatile David Bowie healed and grew.


The ConversationAndrea Jean Baker is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Q&A: why did terror hit Jakarta’s streets – and what happens next?

by Noor Huda Ismail, PhD candidate in the School of Social Sciences

Explosions and gunfire on Thursday left seven people dead in Jakarta. The blasts and gunfight between Indonesian police and the suspected attackers took place near the busy Sarinah shopping mall in central Jakarta. Indonesian President Joko Widodo spoke of “acts of terror”.

Five suspected attackers are reportedly among those killed. What affiliation if any they had to a terrorist group is currently unknown.

Since 2000, Islamic hardliners in Indonesia have carried out several high-profile bombing attacks. Notably, the Bali bombings in 2002 killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

The Conversation spoke to Noor Huda Ismail, a counter-terrorism analyst from Monash University, on the landscape of Indonesia’s terror groups and the threat the country faces.

The last major terrorist attack in Indonesia took place in 2009. Why has terrorism now returned to the country?

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism police have largely succeeded in destroying the local terrorist group networks that carried out bombings between 2000 and 2009.

The 2002 Bali bombers Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron – members of the Jemaah Islamiyah group – were executed in 2008. Noordin M Top, who was involved in both the Bali bombings and the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing and was also a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, was killed in a raid in 2009.

But, in recent years, some Islamic militants have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS).

Enough time has passed since the 2009 hotel bombings in Jakarta for radical Islamic groups to consolidate their strength to strike in Indonesia.

Additionally, some Indonesians have returned from fighting in Syria and created small terrorist cells back home. A lot of terrorist groups in Indonesia are fragmented and they want to show they exist.

The group that carried out this attack might have planned it for January given that law enforcement alertness over the terror threat is not as high during this period. This is because police increase their alertness for possible terrorist threats at the end of the year. Indonesian police carried out raids at the end of 2015 and reportedly foiled terrorist attacks.

Is there any difference between this and previous attacks?

Previous attacks have involved terrorist groups utilising big resources. They had to secure ingredients to make a bomb and find a vehicle in which to plant the explosives. The attacks usually had a single target and were not followed by other blasts. Also, previously only two or three people carried out such operations.

In this attack, witnesses say suspects were brandishing rifles and throwing grenades. There also appear to have been more people involved. The police should find out how the attackers got these rifles. It’s not possible for terrorist groups to obtain these weapons on the island of Java. The police should look at possible links with Islamist militant groups in the Philippines.

Is the attack in Jakarta linked to IS?

News reports say IS had issued a warning to the Indonesian police that “there will be a concert in Indonesia” and the country will be in the international news. However, the police have yet to determine which group carried out the attack.

What extremist groups are operating in Indonesia?

Indonesia has big radical groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah, Jamaah Ansyarushi Syariah, and Jemaah Ansyorul Al-Khilafah, which believe that the secular Indonesian government should be overthrown and that the country should be an Islamic state under sharia law.

Indonesia also has many small terrorist groups. While not officially connected with these big groups, they look up to them and their leaders for inspiration.

Aside from being fuelled by their ideology, the groups also harbour resentment towards law enforcers, especially the police who hunt and sometimes torture their captured fellow “fighters”.

The terrorist groups in Indonesia use smartphones and social media to communicate with each other. Sometimes they use courier services too. A number of them have lines of communication with networks in the southern Philippines and in Syria.

What has been the strategy of Indonesian law enforcers in fighting terrorism?

The Indonesian police, in co-operation with the Australian Federal Police, share intelligence on possible terrorist threats and carry out raids on militant groups.

But there is a loophole in Indonesian law that prevents law enforcers from processing returned foreign fighters. Indonesia does not have a regulation that makes it illegal to join paramilitary training or to carry out violence abroad. As a result, even though police can identify and capture returned foreign fighters, they cannot charge them with any wrongdoing.

We should also realise that law enforcement alone is insufficient in eradicating the terror threat. Therefore, disillusioned returned foreign fighters should be approached to co-operate and work with police to change the mindset of radical groups from within.The Conversation

Noor Huda Ismail is PhD Candidate in Politics and International Relations in the School of Social Sciences at Monash.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Interpreting student Courtney Reid takes her work to Frankfurt Book Fair

Courtney Reid, a student in the Master of Interpreting and Translation Studies, has had the rare opportunity of translating a book during the course of her post-graduate studies, and to see her published translation featured at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2015.

She recounts the events surrounding the rather unexpected request to translate an Indonesian book, Temanku Teroris?, written by Noor Huda Ismail, who is also a PhD candidate in the School of Social Sciences at Monash, her contact with the author, with the publisher of her English translation, and her trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair where Indonesia was the chosen ‘Guest of Honour’ country.


Monash University MITS student, Courtney Reid with Pangestu Ningsih, the CEO of Noura Books
Monash University MITS student, Courtney Reid with Pangestu Ningsih, the CEO of Noura Books

When I first met Noor Huda Ismail in mid-June 2015, I could never have imagined that I would be translating his book Temanku, Teroris? ‘My Friend, the Terrorist?’ within six weeks for the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair. It has been an incredible and insightful journey. It all started from an Indonesian friend of mine saying “Courtney, my friend’s book has been chosen for the Frankfurt Book Fair and he wrote on Facebook today that he’s looking for a translator…” So, of course, myself being a young and upcoming translator, I jumped at the opportunity and said “I’ll do it!”

Amongst this whirlwind I have been very fortunate to be able to work closely with Huda and ask him why he wrote this story is a particular way, why he chose particular words and most importantly, why he wrote this book. Through his literary journalistic style he provides us with an insight to how easily young men can be swept in to the web of terrorism. He also reminds us to be empathetic towards all the victims of terrorism, including the families of the perpetrators and the children who become orphans in either the real of social sense.

This memoir is very significant to highlighting the fact that many of us take different paths in life, and for those who Huda went to school with, as they were intoxicated by and drawn to the idea of waging a holy war in the name of Islam. This memoir focuses on the story of one of Huda’s closest school-friends, Fadlullah Hasan, sentenced to a life imprisonment due to his involvement in the First Bali Bombings on the 12th of October 2002. They went to an Islamic boarding school, Al Mukmin Ngruki in Solo, Central Java. The founders of this school were also the founders of Jama’ah Islamiyah, Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Bashir.

My friend the terrorist? Book coverHuda brings to light an exciting, honest and moving story. However, as the title suggests there are still questions surrounding Hasan’s story that invite thought and debate. The author, Huda dwelt on this question in an expository way. He focused on his close relationship with Hasan during his school days and how he looked up to Hasan until they were reunited with Huda working as a journalist for The Washington Post covering the first Bali bombing in 2002. By this time, Hasan was locked behind bars. Huda makes it very clear himself, that he does not consider the trajectories of these young people’s lives to have been pre-determined. He firmly believes that “no one is born a terrorist.”

During the translation process there were a number of instances of implicitness where the meaning would be clear to an Indonesian reader but to an Anglophone reader it would be unclear. An example of this was when Huda was talking about his childhood memories in the village with his friends where they would fish in a local drain and he reminisced: “We dammed up the drain and drained it out with a bucket to find the fish. During that process all of my friends would cry because they knew that their fathers would beat them up.” I myself was confused when I translated this section and asked Huda why he was talking about his friends’ fathers beating them up. Huda then clarified this for me and said: “Their fathers’ would beat them up because they would come home covered in dirt, being dirty is bad in Indonesia as it suggests misfortune and a lack of care on the part of the parents”. Therefore, in the translation, I chose to add “if they came home covered in dirt” to the end of that section. For this example, I felt it was necessary to add this explanation to ensure that the meaning was not lost on the reader.

I was also lucky enough to be invited to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Indonesia was selected as the Guest of Honour country, which means that the Book Fair affords a privileged and prominent position to the literature of that particularly country and to writers writing in the national language/s of that country. The theme was “17,000 Islands of Imagination” with a focus on presenting the diverse cultural and literary landscape of Indonesia. There were events on poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, history, politics, children’s books, comics and cookbooks. There were also traditional musical and dance performances, tea and coffee tastings, spices, photographic exhibitions and films shown at night.

As a rule, the Frankfurt Book Fair seeks to facilitate the exhibition of 500 to 1,000 titles of translated literature from the Guest of Honour country. The Indonesian Pavilion was enchanting, intriguing and inspiring.

With the vast array  of Indonesian culture and Indonesian literature in Indonesian and translated into other languages, as well as the presence of prominent Indonesian authors, the Frankfurt Book Fair was an unforgettable experience. It has introduced me to the world of literary translation, and to the processes of working with the author, publisher and marketing staff to see a translated work presented at a major international forum.


 

In preparation for the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair and for the role of ‘Guest of Honour’ country, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia established the “I-LIT Program” (Indonesian Literature in Translation) in 2014 and approved grants of US$1 million for the translation of Indonesian literature into other languages and for its promotion worldwide.

Further details can be found at: http://www.buchmesse.de/en/guestofhonour/about/

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Explainer: what does the ‘male gaze’ mean, and what about a female gaze?

Janice Loreck

The “gaze” is a term that describes how viewers engage with visual media. Originating in film theory and criticism in the 1970s, the gaze refers to how we look at visual representations. These include advertisements, television programs and cinema.

When film critics talk about the gaze, they are often referring to the “male gaze”. But what does that really mean? And is there a female equivalent?

Where did the idea of a ‘male gaze’ come from?

The “male gaze” invokes the sexual politics of the gaze and suggests a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women. In the male gaze, woman is visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire. Her feelings, thoughts and her own sexual drives are less important than her being “framed” by male desire.

A key idea of feminist film theory, the concept of the male gaze was introduced by scholar and filmmaker Laura Mulvey in her now famous 1975 essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.

Adopting the language of psychoanalysis, Mulvey argued that traditional Hollywood films respond to a deep-seated drive known as “scopophilia”: the sexual pleasure involved in looking. Mulvey argued that most popular movies are filmed in ways that satisfy masculine scopophilia.

Although sometimes described as the “male gaze”, Mulvey’s concept is more accurately described as a heterosexual, masculine gaze.

Visual media that respond to masculine voyeurism tends to sexualise women for a male viewer. As Mulvey wrote, women are characterised by their “to-be-looked-at-ness” in cinema. Woman is “spectacle”, and man is “the bearer of the look”.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) offers a famous example of the male gaze. In the scene below, the audience is introduced to Cora Smith, the film’s lead female character. Using close-ups, the camera forces the viewer to stare at Cora’s body. It creates a mode of looking that is sexual, voyeuristic, and associated with the male protagonist’s point-of-view.

It also establishes some important plot points: that the hero desires Cora, and that Cora recognises his lust. But the strongest message is that Cora is sexy. Indeed, the viewer learns that Cora is sexy before they even learn her name. Even if a viewer isn’t attracted to women in “real life”, the scene still makes sense. A lifetime of seeing women sexualised in television, music videos and advertisements has made us very comfortable with assuming the male gaze.

Finding the male gaze

The male gaze takes many forms, but can be identified by situations where female characters are controlled by, and mostly exist in terms of what they represent to, the hero. As Budd Boetticher, who directed classic Westerns during the 1950s, put it:

What counts is what the heroine provokes, or rather what she represents. She is the one, or rather the love or fear she inspires in the hero, or else the concern he feels for her, who makes him act the way he does. In herself the woman has not the slightest importance.

This can be see in the different ways the camera repeatedly positions us to look at women’s bodies. Think of Rear Window (1954), for a literal framing of women’s bodies, or She’s All That (1999), which revolves around a make-over. For a modern example, the Transformers film series (2006-2014) presents women as sexual objects to be desired.

Filmmakers often attempt to avoid presenting female characters as “mere” sexual objects by giving them complex back stories, strong motivations and an active role in the plot of their story. Yet the masculine gaze is still commonplace. Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) has significant personal motivations, yet she is still clearly there to be looked at.

Different ways of looking

Although written 40 years ago, Mulvey’s essay still provokes strong reactions. One common response is that both women and men are objectified in cinema.

After all, isn’t Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) as sexy as Gilda Mundson (Rita Hayworth) in Gilda (1946)?

Isn’t Fitzwilliam Darcy as beautiful as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC teleseries of Pride and Prejudice (1995)? Surely this indicates the presence of a (heterosexual) female gaze.

Such arguments don’t consider how insistently women are presented as sexual objects.

The Hawkeye Initiative is a project that draws attention to the different ways male and female superheroes are posed in comics and movies. Take this illustration as an example, which poses the male heroes of The Avengers in the same hyper-sexualised position as the film’s sole female protagonist, Black Widow.

The illustration makes a good point about double standards. But its humour derives from the fact that it is unusual to see men sexualised in the same way as women.

Another argument is that cinema doesn’t invite women to desire men’s bodies. Rather, female viewers are positioned to identify with a heroine who is herself desired by a man. According to this logic, it is not Fitzwilliam Darcy’s wet undershirt that inflames the female viewer in Pride and Prejudice. Rather, it is Darcy’s longing for Elizabeth that truly appeals.

Is there a female gaze?

Many films that represent women’s desire do so in “non gaze”-related ways. Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993) expresses the heroine’s passionate nature through the film’s famous score.

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999) conveys female experience through sound and visual aesthetics, portraying the teenage protagonists’ inner life. This scene uses warm tones (yellow, salmon), feminine symbols (flowers, unicorns) and music to express female adolescence.

Coppola uses a similar strategy in Marie Antoinette (2006), using florid set design to communicate women’s claustrophobic life at Versailles.

The argument that women’s desire is best expressed through sensation rather than a gaze may evoke the cliché that male desire is “visual” whereas women’s is “sensory”. But men’s inner lives have always been conveyed via sound and sensation. Action films like Rambo (2008) or Casino Royale (2006), for example, bombard the senses with male anguish and aggression.

So is there a female gaze? Certainly, beautiful men abound in cinema. But I’d argue that there is no direct female equivalent of the male gaze. The male gaze creates a power imbalance. It supports a patriarchal status quo, perpetuating women’s real-life sexual objectification.

For this reason, the female gaze cannot be “like” the male gaze.

Instead, films that centre women’s experiences are deeply subversive. Think of Fish Tank (2009), a coming-of-age story about a disadvantaged girl’s vulnerability, or In the Cut (2003), a story about a woman’s sexual discovery.

Films about women’s sexuality often face censorship ways that prove their subversiveness. For instance, the makers of The Cooler (2003), Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Blue Valentine (2010) claim that their films were rated R or NC-17 for depicting cunnilingus. Such scenes focus on female pleasure and undermine women’s “to-be-looked-at-ness”. Censorship bodies like the Motion Picture Association of America, however, seem to treat cunnilingus as “more graphic” than other forms of sex.

Films like The Piano, In The Cut or Marie Antoinette show that cinema can use music, erotic scenes and visual aesthetics to express a feminine point of view. In doing so, such films counter the gaze, depicting women as subjects rather than objects “to be looked at”. Whilst not replicating the male gaze exactly, they challenge the enduring dominance of masculine worldviews in film and media.


 

Janice Loreck is a Teaching Associate in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Australian television premiere of ‘Death or Liberty’

The documentary drama Death or Liberty will have its Australian television premier this month on ABC TV. The documentary is based on Monash University academic Associate Professor Tony Moore’s book of the same name.

Death-or-Liberty

Between 1793 and 1867 the British Government banished its radicals, dissenters and rebels to harsh prison colonies at the very edge of the known world: Australia.

The British Government thought that distance would silence these rabble-rousers, but instead they left an inspiring legacy. Republicanism, trade unionism, responsible government, universal suffrage and free speech… all arrived on Australian shores shackled in chains.

The Death or Liberty documentary brings to life a forgotten history of these convict rebels, and features celebrated musicians, England’s Billy Bragg, Australia’s Mick Thomas and Tex Perkins (narrator) and Ireland’s Lisa O’Neill, as well as historians and experts headed up by authors Thomas Keneally and Monash’s Associate Professor Tony Moore.

… this is a seriously stylish film … The landscapes are stunning, the historical commentaries lively and well informed, and the music superb.

Author and Associate Professor Frank Bongiorno, ANU.

As the Republican debate is re-ignited in Australia, Death or Liberty promises to play an important role in the debate, a film that helps people understand that the rights we take for granted today were won for us by brave men and women… many of them transported because they stood up for what they believed in.

“For a republic to compete with the tradition and majesty of the British monarchy, it must first engage our imaginations, harnessing culture and history to an alternative dream of Australia — one that appeals to the heart as well as the head, the land as well as the law, past heroes as well as the future,” said Dr Tony Moore  (Independent Australia, 2011).

Associate Professor Tony Moore’s book, Death or Liberty: rebels and radicals Transported to Australia 1788-1868, is being re-released by Allen and Unwin/Murdoch Books to coincide with the documentary.

Death or Liberty will be broadcast on January 14th at 9.30 pm, ABC1.

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Student ambassador in Myanmar: 2016 Colombo Plan scholar James Barklamb

James Barklamb and Andrew Robb
Monash student and Columbo Plan Scholar, James Barklamb, meets the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon. Andrew Robb.

2016 Columbo Plan Scholar, James Barklamb, is currently studying a double degree at Monash (Bachelor of Arts and Law, majoring in International Relations). James was one of 100 recipients Australia wide (8 at Monash) to be awarded the scholarship, which allows students to study for an extended period overseas with the full financial support of the federal government.

James outlines what he will be doing in Myanmar next year and talks about the support he received from Monash to achieve the scholarship:

“As one of two inaugural Columbo scholars to be sent to Myanmar, I will be engaging with one of the most significant political and governmental transitions in the recent history of the Indo-Pacific: the transformative election victory of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.

The next few years in Myanmar promise to be a period of rapid development, democratisation and international engagement, and I am extremely fortunate and excited to be a part of this.

As an ambassador for, and agent of, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I aim to engage with influential business, non-profit and academic organisations, in a manner that will strengthen the growing diplomatic, political and economic ties between Australia and Myanmar.

I will be immersing myself in the social challenges confronting Myanmar’s citizens, and aiming to build on my work within the Access Monash Program, as a Monash Community Leaders Scholar, and the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience as an advocate for educational access and social mobility.

Having worked with the Southern Ethnic Advisory and Advocacy Council in supporting students whose families have sought refuge in Australia, I hope to particularly focus on documenting how the spectre of ethnic conflict affects the educational development of Myanmar’s youth and drives refugee movement.

I also hope to build on my work in Rwanda at the Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (through Monash’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation) by addressing Myanmar’s politically and ethnically sensitive governmental transition.

As a 2016 scholar, I owe a debt of gratitude to both the ACJC and the Arts Faculty more broadly, for supporting my studies and developing an internship network that places interns in positions of real responsibility and encourages students to be bold in engaging with leaders in their field of interest.

The incredible opportunities which will come my way in Myanmar are a testament to the global outlook and reach that Monash pursues for all its students. In particular, the dedication and commitment of Trevor Goddard and his team at Global Engagement, as well as the team at Monash Abroad, were undeniably crucial in supporting the success of all nine Monash scholars.”

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The Psychology of Atomic Resistance: Monash’s Maria Rublee at Princeton seminar series

M.V. Ramana, Frank von Hippel, Maria Rost Rublee and Zia Mian
M.V. Ramana, Frank von Hippel, Maria Rost Rublee and Zia Mian, at the Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security Seminar Series.

Monash academic Associate Professor Maria Rost Rublee recently presented at the Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security Seminar Series.

She spoke to a group of about 25 Princeton academics, who were mainly nuclear physicists and nuclear engineers, on the topic of ‘The Psychology of Atomic Resistance’. 

Maria’s presentation examined whether the enormous effort to achieve nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament makes any tangible difference.

She explained that foundations pour in millions of dollars, and individuals devote their lives to the cause, so assessing the effectiveness of their efforts is important.

Maria outlined the specific strategies and tactics that anti-nuclear activists use in their attempts to redefine the value of nuclear weapons in today’s international system, and what the “best practices” for these anti-nuclear groups can be.

Maria Rost Rublee is a senior lecturer at Monash’s School of Social Sciences.

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Sumatran music research at Monash focuses on Lampung province in post-authoritarian Indonesia

melinting1Monash researcher Professor Margaret Kartomi has been awarded another ARC discovery grant for the project: “Revitalisation and Sustainability of the Musical Arts of the Indigenous people of Lampung in Post-authoritarian Indonesia.” 

With partner investigators Associate Professor Bart Barendregt (Leiden University), Dr Rina Martiara (Indonesian Institute of Arts Jogjakarta, and research fellow Dr Karen Kartomi Thomas (Monash University), she will carry out field work in 2016-2018.

The project recordings and other field data will be added to the Music Archive of Monash University, and papers will be published and presented at an international conference on the topic.

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