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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Critical Matters: A review of book reviewing in a one day symposium

CritMatt-web-1181px-orangeblueMonash University’s Centre for the Book is hosting a one-day symposium on Thursday April 9th entitled:

Critical Matters: Book Reviewing Now

The first of its kind ever held in Australia, this symposium brings together over 30 book reviewers, editors and academics to discuss the state of literary criticism in the public sphere today.

For more information on the symposium participants and topics, visit the Centre for the Book website.

Public Panels

Performance Space, The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 2pm – 4.30pm.

For more information on the Public Panels click here.


For your free tickets to the Public Panels click here.

For more information about this symposium contact Dr Melinda Harvey.

Centre for the Book

The Centre for the Book is the only research institution of its kind in Australasia. It is widely regarded as the epicentre of print culture research. The centre forms part of a small and prestigious network of like entities in Toronto, London, Washington D.C., Edinburgh, Oxford and Madison, Wisconsin.


All things being equal

Are we making headway in getting greater women’s participation in Asia-Pacific politics? 

by Jacqui True

Benazir Bhutto – former President of Pakistan. Photo by Thierry Ehrmann on Flickr.
Benazir Bhutto – former President of Pakistan. Photo by Thierry Ehrmann on Flickr.
License: CC BY 2.0 (

Globally women make up just 22 per cent of parliamentary legislatures, and in Asia-Pacific that figure is even lower. What could and should be done to address this?

At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings this month in New York, many of the 10,000 plus NGO delegates asked why governments have failed to follow through on their 1995 commitments to achieve gender equality.

Had governments equally invested in women and girls – the majority of their citizens – as they promised to do, we might expect far greater gains for prosperity, sustainability and peace across all countries.

Twenty years after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, there are some encouraging signs of progress for women in the Asia Pacific region, but significant barriers to women’s participation in politics remain.

Currently women’s representation in parliamentary legislatures in all four sub-regions of Asia Pacific is below the global average of 22.1 per cent.

In South Asia it is 19.76 per cent, Southeast Asia is 18.09 per cent, East Asia 17.6 per cent and the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand, is just 3.65 per cent.

Though the global proportion of women representatives has nearly doubled since 1995, in Asia (South Asia, SouthEast Asia and East Asia together) the rate of increase has been modest, rising from 13.2 per cent in 1995 to 18.5 per cent on average in 2015.

Gender quotas and reservations have significantly improved women’s political representation at national and local levels, with notable results in Afghanistan, Mongolia, Nepal, New Caledonia, Timor-Leste, and the non-independent territories of French Polynesia.

Political and post-conflict transitions provide special opportunities to institutionalize gender quotas with Timor Leste (38.5 per cent), Nepal (29.5 per cent), and Afghanistan (27.7 per cent) adopting either legislative quotas or reserved seats and, as a result, leading the region in women’s representation.

Timor-Leste can be considered a best practice case because women’s organisations mobilized to get behind women candidates and achieved more than 20 per cent women representatives in the parliament even prior to the adoption of a gender quota law.

It is worth noting that globally, 15 out of the top 20 countries for women’s political representation have put in place one or more of three fast-track measures to promote women candidates, political party gender quotas, legislated gender quotas, or reserved seats for women.

There are a number of major obstacles to increasing women’s political representation across Asia-Pacific, not least of all the moralising statements by some leaders that politics is not a “rightful” place for women; or the fact that political parties—especially in unstable regimes—are often family-run enterprises with financial resources that enable elite women’s participation but delimit that of non-elite women.

This explains why even successful leaders like Indira Gandhi (India), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Corazon Aquino (the Philippines), Park-Geun-hye (South Korea) and Yingluck Shinawatra (Thailand) and have all endeavoured to publicly appear as good wives, daughters, and sisters. 

Violence against women is not only the single biggest issue in the region today in terms of gender justice, but it is a major concern for increasing women’s participation in the public sphere.

Violence against women does not end when women acquire political power; indeed women who stand up and speak out politically and on human rights are often seen as transgressing traditional religious, ethnic and caste norms and are the explicit targets of political violence and harassment.

Acts of violence against women with public profiles have been reported in a number of Asia Pacific countries.

The murder of Afghani women politicians over the past year, as Taliban insurgents increase their presence, is most egregious.  As recently as last month, there was the killing of Angiza Shinwari, a member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also seen numerous cases of  harassment, beating, murder and suicide of political women. Both that violence and the constant threat of it strongly dissuade women from participating in public life, let alone seeking political office.

Ending violence and increasing women’s political participation must be seen therefore as inseparable goals. The evidence is mounting that women’s political participation cannot be further increased without addressing the pervasive violence against women and girls in the home, in the public sphere and at work.

As well as pointing to the significant economic impacts of violence against women, such as decreased productivity, work hours and increasing public services costs, the World Bank argues that, “women can function more freely in society and the business world when not faced by the threat of violence”.

In 2014, the Bank’s Women, Business and Law report on women’s economic opportunity and rights, based on surveys in 100 countries on six areas and indicators, piloted a ‘Protecting Women from Violence’ legal indicator to monitor this barrier to women’s participation.

By contrast with the limited progress in women’s political representation in Asia Pacific, there have been considerable advances in applying the UN Treaty on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the development of pro-gender equality laws and policies across the region.

For instance, the outlawing of domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, and human trafficking has recently been undertaken in many Asia-Pacific countries.

This protection of women’s rights to security is a crucial foundation for greater progress in women’s political rights as citizens and decision-makers. 

New research shows the positive effects of women’s political representation on state responses to addressing violence against women.

For example, in India the reserved seats for women in Panchayat are associated with higher shares of local investment in infrastructure and public goods valued by women, improved perceptions of women leaders by men and greater aspirations for younger women and more reporting of violent crimes against women.

To see more substantial progress, an Asia Pacific Census of women’s political participation that would collect and monitor women’s participation at different levels and in different jurisdictions is long overdue.

As well as  counting women  in public life, this census could also create indicators to measure the meaningful outcomes of women’s representation, with a view to implementing laws and policies to address seemingly intractable gender inequalities and, most urgently, persistent and egregious violence against women and girls.

Governments and societies are stepping up gender equality in political participation. The social and economic benefits are evident.  But the walk towards addressing gender inequality and women’s political representation in Asia Pacific must address pervasive patterns of violence against women and girls and become a regional priority as well as a global priority in order to realise the rewards from gender-equal participation.

This post first appeared on the Asia & The Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum website.

Professor Jacqui True is a Professor of Politics & International Relations and an Australian Research Council Professorial Future Fellow at Monash University, Australia. She is aspecialist in gender and international relations. Her current research is focused on the prevention of mass sexual violence and the political economy of post-conflict violence against women in Asia Pacific.

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Monash student wins Melbourne Press Club Student Journalist of the Year

Jenan Taylor has won the Melbourne Press Club’s Student Journalist of the Year
Jenan Taylor has won the Melbourne Press Club’s Student Journalist of the Year

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

Jenan, a Master of Journalism student, has earned praised from judges for her “original and compassionate” investigation into what happens when a pauper dies.

Her article was published in The Weekend Australian Magazine.

Jenan said the possibility of winning an award was the last thing on her mind when she started working on her story.

“The article turned out to take an unusual approach, which, although it picked at the fabric of contemporary issues,  didn’t hang on any current hot topic,” Jenan said, who was awarded at the Quills at Crown Palladium on Friday night.

“I’m overwhelmed that all the hard work paid off further in the form of this Student Journalist of the Year award. So much of this achievement has had to do with the skills I’ve been taught and the guidance I’ve received from all my journalism lecturers here at Monash over the years.”

Jenan said she was particularly grateful to Associate Professor Philip Chubb and Monica Jackson for their encouragement.

Master of Journalism student Tiffany Korssen was a finalist in the 2014 Student Journalist of the Year award for her investigation, Suicide Survivors Left in the Lurch.

Her story revealed the lack of treatment and care available for suicide survivors that captured the personal experiences of those concerned.

Head of journalism Associate Professor Philip Chubb said having masters’ students shortlisted for this major award was a testament to the strength of University’s program.

“Having Jenan win feels like a terrific vindication of our efforts and direction,” Professor Chubb said.

“More importantly, this prize is a life-changer for Jenan, who had a great idea for a piece of feature journalism and then worked hard to bring it off brilliantly.”

Bill Birnbauer, a senior lecturer in investigative journalism, said Monash journalism’s students repeatedly won the industry’s top journalism awards because “we teach them the fundamental basic skills of news breaking, feature writing and digital production”.

“We imbue in them a questioning and determined attitude to get to the unvarnished truth,” Mr Birnbauer said.

“They do the rest themselves. Jenan’s story was one of the most original, crafted and touching stories I have read in a long time.”

Monash alumna, Monique Hore, teamed with Herald Sun senior journalist Ruth Lamperd to win the 2014 Quill for Best Coverage of an Issue or Event for White Death.

Ruth and Monique’s five-month investigation revealed a cover-up over a deadly asbestos factory.

“Receiving a Quill award alongside Ruth is a huge honour,” Monique said.

“I enjoyed working with the residents of Sunshine North to raise important health questions. As a young journalist, it was also brilliant to work with someone so experience as Ruth.”

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The long and lonely political journey of Malcolm Fraser

By Shaun Carney

It was the greatest political transformation of any major Australian public figure in modern times. Malcolm Fraser,“the crazy grazier” who in 1975 did whatever it took to “rescue” the nation from its first federal Labor government in almost a quarter of a century, moved progressively away from the party for whom he had once been a conquering hero.

The drift from the Liberal Party began as soon as Fraser exited the parliament in the wake of his government’s 1983 election defeat. And as the years rolled by, it picked up pace.

Having been granted life membership of the party in 2000, the honour came to mean little, if anything, to him. Following Tony Abbott’s ascension to the leadership in December 2009, Fraserterminated that membership because he believed the party to which he had devoted his best years had lost its right to call itself “liberal” and had become “a party of fear”.

Fraser’s ideological shift continued even after that, as he moved into his 80s. By 2014, in his book Dangerous Allies, he argued for Australia to end its alliance with the United States – an alliance that is a fundamental and unshakable tenet of his old party’s comprehension of the nation’s place in the world. It had once also been a bedrock element of his own approach to world affairs.

By then, Fraser’s estrangement from the Liberals had itself become a fundamental feature of public debate. The rift had deepened with his long-running criticisms of the party’s approach to asylum seekers, multiculturalism, Asian immigration and a range of defence and foreign policy issues, especially its willingness to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

From party leader to exile

The transition from hate figure for the Labor Party and its supporters to advocate for many policies that are to the left of the contemporary ALP will long be a subject for examination and discussion. Fraser argued that he hadn’t changed; it was the Liberal Party that had changed. A more credible assessment is that both had changed.

Fraser was a unique combination as a politician. He possessed a fierce will to power. To satisfy that, he devoted himself to mastering the nation’s formal political structures.

Essentially, in 1975 Fraser took over the Liberal Party on his second attempt to unseat Billy Snedden as leader and then forced the Queen’s representative, Sir John Kerr, to bend the Constitution to conform to his ambition. In order to attain the power that he regarded as his party’s natural right over an unworthy and illegitimate Labor administration, he was willing to put at risk Australia’s social order.

Yet, throughout his prime ministership and his lifetime, Fraser’s chief public policy concerns were personal, ethical and social. The “hard” policy areas of financial, industrial, trade and labour relations reform – what might be regarded as the biggest pieces of machinery of government and the economy – did not animate him in the way that multiculturalism, migration, refugee resettlement, the environment and Indigenous affairs did.

Fraser was, despite the lengths he had gone to challenge political conventions on his path to power, so determined to appear to run a government that was above board that he was willing to ditch ministers and MPs at the faintest whiff of bad behaviour, often at his own political cost. This was of a piece with his great passion of trying to fight racism wherever he saw it – most notably and controversially in South Africa.

Over the years, Fraser and the Liberal Party grew less tolerant of each other. What made Fraser’s falling-out with the party he had led to three successive election victories so remarkable was that it was so unusual. Labor’s history is studded, right from its earliest days, with what its adherents refer to as “rats”: Joseph Cook, Chris Watson, Billy Hughes and a large segment of his cabinet, Joe Lyons.

But the return traffic has been thin.

Fraser could never be said to have thrown in his lot with the ALP, of course. Often, his specific policy criticisms were equally applicable to the Labor Party. But they carried extra weight in terms of providing a critique of the non-Labor side because of his storied career as a Liberal world-beater.

Legacy poses a dilemma for Liberals

Just how the next generation of Liberals come to regard Fraser – as a flawed, fallen hero or faithful, principled critic – will be fascinating to see.

What can’t be ruled out as an explanation for Fraser’s unique political journey is his own personality. The first thing that struck me when I was sent to Canberra to cover his government for the now-defunct Melbourne Herald in 1979 was how alone Fraser the prime minister was.

In every encounter I witnessed, he seemed … removed. This was often taken for aloofness but it looked to have deeper roots, a reflection of personality rather than attitude.

Fraser’s early childhood appears to have been a carefree, Huck Finn-style, if quite isolated, life on his family’s farm in the Riverina. But it introduced a sadness to him that was still evident in him in his advanced years.

In his 2010 autobiography, Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, co-authored with Margaret Simons, he recalls how he was sent away, aged 10, from his idyllic, self-absorbed life to board at Tudor House in the southern highlands of New South Wales. For the first time, he was surrounded by boys his own age, but by his own admission it was:

… too late. The die was cast. I had been solitary for too long so I was still in part self-contained or reserved or whatever. I don’t think anything really was going to alter that.

Nothing did. Left to his own devices after he veered from the parliamentary track, that lonely, unreachable, idealistic boy took off yet again to tread his own path.

Adjunct Associate Professor Shaun Carney works in the School Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article has appeared on The Conversation.

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Making Australia Great despite themselves: PMs stake rival claims

by Remy Davison.

Six prime ministers. Four decades. Two recessions. Australia: 24 million Not Out.

Not out in the cold, that is. As Singapore’s former prime minister, Lee Kwan Yew grimly warned Bob Hawke, a few more decades like the ‘70s and Australians would wind up “the poor, white trash of Asia”.

Lee was wrong. Australia became rich, multicultural and deeply integrated with the Asian economy. Not by accident. But not strictly by design either.

Making Australia Great: Inside our longest boom (ABC 2, Tuesdays, 8.30pm) is journalist George Megalogenis’ affectionate, politico-cultural journey through the milieu of Australia’s economic reform and renewal, from Menzies to the present.

The first episode, “Bad Hair Decades”, commences with a brief look at Australia as it was under Menzies. Complacent. Sheltered. White. Protected. Full employment. When a single-income families had dad as the sole breadwinner, mum in the kitchen, and a house with a white picket fence. It was an image that resonated so strongly with John Howard that he made it the centrepiece of his ill-fated 1988 “Future Directions” strategy.

But most of the first episode looks at the end of the long boom in Australia: the unhappy end to the optimism of Whitlamism; the gloom and doom of Fraserism; and Labor’s U-turn under Hawke and Keating, unleashing Milton Friedman-style deregulation on the Australian economy.

All the iconic images of the 1970s and 1980s are present: the Dismissal; Midnight Oil; and the Alan Bond-backed Australia II yacht bringing the America’s Cup to Fremantle.

The ABC has clearly delved deep into its impressive colour and black-and-white archives to bring the stagflationary ’70s back to life. Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. A soundtrack courtesy of The Saints, Skyhooks and The Angels.

By the 1980s, Bond, Christopher Skase and John Elliot are the faces of the new, confident, wealthy Australia. The nouveau riche are the true winners under Hawke and Keating. Melbourne Bitter and Carlton Draught give way to Moët Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. The soundtrack shifts from proto-punk to New Romantic. John Farnham and Iva Davies sport magnificent mullets without tears.

But the ALP’s champagne economy, driven by asset bubbles and credit binges, quickly runs out of fizz, resulting in a colossal hangover: the “Keating recession”.

Occasionally, Making Australia Great really tries to do too much. Frank Sinatra being held to ransom by Bob Hawke and the Transport Workers’ Union? Enough already. We get it: unions were powerful.

Even the poor old Leyland P76 is trotted out as a “symbol of a broken economic model”. Not really. It was a symbol of a broken British economic model. The UK’s most successful exports to Australia in the 1970s were poor automotive design and a militant form of organised labour. Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery.

As a professional pedant, I have a few nits to pick: the program doesn’t mention the UK’s entry into the EU in 1973 that blew Australia’s export markets into the weeds, halving the country’s share of world trade inside a decade.

I suspect Megalogenis also misses the critical link between the US, Chinese and Australian economies. It was US outward foreign direct investment and debt-financed credit expansion that drove much of the China boom. Without US Treasury notes, eagerly purchased by thrifty Beijing, Chinese industrial production would never have achieved the dizzy heights it did between 2003 and 2008. It is US debt that funded Chinese growth (if you want to be hyperbolic, you can also argue that America shipped its old industrial plant, lock, stock and barrel, to China).

Even more importantly, it was China’s thirst for raw materials that drove the Australian boom. If Keating, Howard, Costello or Rudd truly believe they were the creators of Australia’s economic resilience, they’re fooling themselves. Canberra claims the credit, but the budgetary surpluses were Made in Beijing, pure and simple.

Our former leaders are not exactly complimentary about each other’s economic management. Hawke complains that neither Whitlam nor Fraser understood economics, but Hawke’s ACTU nevertheless demanded self-defeating, inflationary wage rises. Keating labels Hawke, “the pyromaniac who nearly set the economy on fire – twice.”

Australia, both Megalogenis and Peter Costello claim, has something to teach the world. Like what? How to have the largest household debt in the world? Locking a generation out of the housing market?

To be fair, Australia has much to be proud of. Wealth is considerable; Australians are among the richest people on earth. Multiculturalism has bred tolerance, not ethnic violence. Economic inequality is relatively low by global standards (although the wealth gap is increasing). Absolute poverty is comparatively uncommon.

Unsurprisingly, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Costello, Rudd and Swan, stake their rival claims for engineering Australia’s reform and resilience through economic triumph, turmoil and tragedy. But they would do that, wouldn’t they? When the child turns out well, everyone claims paternity.

This does become faintly annoying. It’s not the political elite who are making the sacrifices or paying the taxes. Politicians are merely over-remunerated cheerleaders standing on the side lines as the real heavy lifting is done by the overburdened, hard-working Australian labour force.

Politicians, as PJ O’Rourke rightly reminds us, “have never done anything worth a shit. They’ve merely gotten themselves elected.”

But there’s much of interest to look forward to in episodes two and three. The latter features new interviews with Rudd, Swan and Ken Henry and the fear wrought by the 2008–09 global financial crisis.

Here’s hoping there’s a happy ending. I’ll drink to that. Make mine a Moët.

Dr Rémy Davison is Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social Sciences, and Associate Director of the Monash European and EU Centre.

This article has appeard in The Conversation.

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Get literate in myth, religion and theology

by Constant Mews

Myth and religion are terms re-entering public debate in Australia. Certainly, myth is a notion still often used in a pejorative sense, to evoke a fantastical story that serves to legitimate particular interests. Yet – as retellings of the Gallipoli story reveal – there is a growing awareness that any community, whether a nation or a small neighbourhood, needs to debate the myth or imaginative narrative that gives it inspiration.

We look out for forgotten stories that might jolt us out of our comfort zone, and provide an alternative mythology; novels and films present mythic stories about ourselves. The most enduring of those poetic imaginings acquire the status of what we might call a classic, becoming part of a core bed-rock of stories to which we return to re-invent ourselves as a community.

They may not be historically accurate statements of fact, but they inspire and help us to re-imagine the world. Each religion has a collection of such mythic stories that constitute its holy scriptures.


Religion is still contentious as a term. For some, it’s synonymous with obfuscation and dogmatic beliefs, whereas for others it relates to a core body of values. As a teacher committed to promoting religious studies within a university context, I am intensely aware of how important it is to demonstrate that any religion offers not so much a set of beliefs as a vision of the world.

Religion (a word that in Latin means re-connecting) can be seen as a powerful set of cultural practices that offers meaning to a community, and a vision of order in the world. Religions can be used for pernicious ends.

Yet they also have the capacity to generate the virtue of faith or trust, at times when adversity may give cause for despair. Like myth, any religion is capable of a wide range of interpretations. Like Christianity, Islam is much richer as a religion than the caricature offered by extremists.

Only by becoming aware of the diversity of religious practice and understanding, both across time and within contemporary society (in Australia and internationally), can we move beyond naïve assumptions that religion is simply about dogmatism.

The fact that every religion, like every political system, has its own set of myths, does not mean that we should avoid teaching religion within a secular educational structure. Globalisation means that we no longer live in a society dominated by a single religious tradition. Secularisation offers a space for studying how myths and religions enable any culture to question the received truths of the economic and social order.

The term theology has a harder time than religion in the marketplace of ideas. For educated people raised to think of science as based on observation, and theology as based on unquestioned propositions, there is no place for studying theology within secular society, except within a confessional context.

Yet theology is any form of reasoned discussion about the principles of a religious tradition, embodied in its stories. The ancient Greeks used it to refer to poetic stories about the gods or God (for which Hebrew uses a plural word, namely Elohim).

In the Latin West, Augustine avoided using the word theology, because he thought it too pagan. For him, what mattered was Holy Scripture, the sacred stories of the Hebrews, given fresh meaning by Christ, revered by his followers as the living embodiment of Jewish wisdom.

Augustine preferred to think of Christian teaching as first of all about the Scriptures, the ancient songlines, as it were, of the Hebrews, made accessible through Christ to the world.

With the expansion in the 12th and 13th centuries of new educational structures in the Latin West – above all, of the university – theology was developed as a discipline that combined the best of the philosophical traditions of the Greeks with the wisdom of the Scriptures.

While Christian theology was shaped at medieval universities by male intellectuals, applying logic to Scripture, mystics (often women) drew on poetry to interpret religious experience. The writing and music of Hildegard of Bingen belongs more to theopoetics than to theology, retrieving an ancient impulse to communicate the spiritual life through song as more powerful than analytic prose.

Religious literacy

Myth, religion and theology are all rich concepts that defy easy definition. They are terms that are integral to religious literacy, the goal to which any form of religious studies must aspire.

Whether within primary, secondary or tertiary education, students need to be made aware of the variety of ways in which cultures have understood these concepts, as well as of the range of terms they have employed to communicate and discuss such ideas.

Theology is not a word that makes sense in every religion. Within Australian Indigenous communities, the sacred is communicated first of all through song, transmitted orally rather than through written text. In the case of Judaism and Islam, the key notion is that of Law, as a divine principle larger than the individual laws by which it is manifest.

In Buddhism, the cosmic law may be defined in terms of dharma rather than of a transcendent law giver. Myths and religions communicate core values in different ways.

Within a secular society shaped by multiple religious traditions, there is an urgent need for both believers and non-believers to understand the core principles of any religion, to prevent those traditions being taken over by narrow ideologues who preach hate and intolerance.

We need to promote religious literacy, not to enforce commitment to any particular religious tradition, but to better understand religious discourse and imagery. Only through such literacy, can we better understand the meaning of terms like myth, religion and theology.

Professor Constant Mews is a Professor for the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University 

This article has appeared in The Conversation.

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Women Confronting ISIS: Monash academic at symposium on women, extremism and local strategies

This month, Professor Jacqui True took presented at a day long symposium entitled ‘Women Confronting ISIS: Local Strategies and States’ Responsibilities’ held in New York. The symposium largely centred on women’s activism in the face of gender-based atrocities committed by ISIS, as well as state-sanctioned discrimination and violence, offering insights into grassroots activism lead by women in Iraq and Syria. ‘Women Confronting ISIS’ was a side event in the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) program.

Professor True was joined by a number of locally-based Iraqi and Syrian gender activists, as well as other international experts including Madeleine Rees (Secretary General of WILPF), Yanar Mohammed (Founder and Director of the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq) and Nawal Yazeji, co-president of the Syrian Women League.

The symposium was hosted by the CUNY School of Law and sponsored by The Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice, MADRE, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI), and the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI).

Watch/Listen to the speakers from the symposium on the CUNY website or below:

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A new degree sets new horizons

The Bachelor of Global Studies was officially launched last month by Dr Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, New York.

Dr Adams has a distinguished record working with governments and civil society organizations around the world. Drawing on his vast experience in the field, Dr Adams expressed his high hopes for the new degree to prepare independent and engaged graduates who can successfully address some of today’s and tomorrow’s global problems.

(L to R) Assoc Prof Susanna Scarparo, Assoc Dean Education, Dr Simon Adams, Dr Sarah McDonald, Education Coordinator
(L to R) Assoc Prof Susanna Scarparo, Assoc Dean Education, Dr Simon Adams, Dr Sarah McDonald, Education Coordinator

One hundred and twenty three pioneering students are enrolled in the course and its associated double degrees (Commerce and Science). This group will be nurtured to become leaders and agents for social change in areas, such as, the rich-poor gap, peace and conflict, and crime and justice.

To equip its students with the ideal skill set to address and implement change on the global challenges facing cultures and communities throughout the world the course has adopted a style that is both interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial. The degree offers three areas of specialisation – Global cultural literacies, International relations, and International studies – that are combined with other core units to foster a vibrant cross-pollination of ideas and areas of expertise.

“I am using this degree as a pathway…to work with NGO’s. I have a deep interest in forced misplacement of people around the world and want to be part of the movement that stops this. I thought the seminar was great, really loved hearing about Simon’s personal experiences, he’s an inspiration to the next generation of human rights workers.” Laura, BGS student

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Bachelor of Global Studies


Apply now to study in Italy, New York or Indonesia this year

Monash Arts offers students a number of opportunities to make their study experience an international one, with study intensives offered at our international campuses as well as study tours.

Below is a round up of some opportunities to study abroad. Applications for some units are  closing this week. 

Chindamo - Prato(1)Arts in Prato

The Monash Prato campus is located near Florence and we offer a number of units there each year.

Study a range of subjects including War, Media and Memory, Italian Transformations, and Intercultural Communication. Find out more about what is offered this year on the Prato website. 

Applications closing soon:

This year we’re offering a unit on Dante’s Medival world: Politics, religion and the city is being offered during the Summer semester at Prato.

Find out more about the unit. Applications close 27th March.

Jazz Rob - CopyMusic in New York

Monash Arts offers the New York University summer school for jazz and strings in July. Late applications will be accepted up until 4pm Friday 20 March 2015.

To find out more or to apply, visit the Study Overseas website. 

Study Tour Indonesia

Learn all about Australia’s past and present relations with Asia as well as some Indonesian language on our ‘Australia and Asia’ program this July.

There are 10 New Colombo Plan $3,000 scholarships available!

Applications close 2 April 2015.

Find out more on the Study Overseas website.

Other Travel Opportunities

Visit the Study Overseas website to see other opportunities for travel.



Oscar Schwartz wins The Lifted Brow Prize

Oscar Schwartz

Oscar Schwartz, currently undertaking a PhD in the Literary and Cultural Studies program, has just been announced as the winner of The Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction.

Schwartz won with his piece: ‘Humans Pretending to be Computers Pretending to be Human’ which is based on his PhD project (supervised by Professor Andrew Benjamin and Dr Anna Poletti).

The Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction is a prize looking to unearth new voices from Australia and abroad. The prize was judged by Rebecca Giggs, John D’Agata and Mallory Ortberg and includes publication in the 25th edition of The Lifted Brow, available this month.

Oscar Schwartz is a Melbourne writer exploring the relationship between digital technology and literature. He tweets at @scarschwartz, blogs at and has a podcast called The Future is Now.

Study at Monash:

Monash at ‘imprisonment’ panel discussion at Wheeler Centre

Monash Criminology’s Dr Anna Eriksson will join other academics and legal professionals in a panel discussion facilitated by Maxine McKew at the Wheeler Centre in May.

The aim of this event is to generate a new conversation about Victorian trends in imprisonment and to identify how innovation can reduce the imprisonment rate and result in better short and long-term outcomes for individuals and the community.


Dr Anna Eriksson (Monash University)
Ms Karenza Louis-Smith (Australian Community Support Organisation)
Professor Mark Halsey (Flinders University)
Ms Michelle McDonnell (Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria)

This is a Q&A panel, audience participation and questions to the panel are welcome.


Cost: This is a free event.

Location: The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Time: 11.30am for a 12pm start. The event is followed by a light lunch.

Bookings: Register online to attend…

Inquiries: Please contact:

Study Criminology at Monash:


MFJ’s Assoc Prof Adrian Martin launches Mise en Scène and Film Style

Adrian Martin, an Adjunct Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University’s School of Media Film and Journalism, launched his book, Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art, on February 26.

Associate Prof Martin’s presentation,  Using Multimedia Like We Mean It: Audiovisual Demonstration in Film and Media Studies Today, was delivered before the Monash  academic community and invited guests at the Caulfield campus.

The function also was a  farewell to Associate Prof Martin, who has worked with the Film and Screen Studies academic staff for some time.

Associate Prof Martin is renowned internationally as a film critic, who has been a prolific writer for more than 35 years.

Study Film and Screen Studies at Monash:


Survival Week Tips & Skills Sessions

The first deadlines for university assignments are quickly approaching. With Library advisors and academics busy with other students, the PAL Program is providing ‘drop-in’ style information sessions.

Drop by for even 30mins and ask a Librarian specialising in your area of study questions about your assignments, researching tips and referencing.  Includes a session on academic writing as well as a ‘tips and skills’ study and organisation session presented by PAL student mentors

  • Date: 25th March 2015
  • Venue: G04, 21 Ancora Imparo Way, Monash University Clayton (Building 55)

Come along to all these sessions or just pick the ones that are of interest.  Register for these sessions at

Morning Tea 11am-12pm including Coffee, Tea and assorted cakes

Time Speaker Role Area of Study Description
11am-11.30am Anne Melles Librarian Communication and Media studies, Linguistics, Literary studies and Spanish Drop-in session with an expert. Ask questions about referencing, essay layout or subject research for your first assignments.
11.30am-12pm Dr. Andrew Johnson Lecturer Academic and Professional writing What is the difference between high school and university level writing? Advice, tips and tricks for academic writing
12pm-12.30pm Sue Little Librarian Anthropology, Sociology, Criminology and Indigenous Studies Drop-in session with an expert. Ask questions about referencing, essay layout or subject research for your first assignments.
12.30pm-2pmA free lunch will be provided during this time PAL Ambassadors and Leaders Student ‘Tips and Skills’ Session Broad range within the Arts faculty 2nd year students and above present their own tried and tested study/research tips for tackling your first assignments
2pm-2.30pmAfternoon Tea provided Aline Scott-Maxwell Senior Librarian Indonesian, Chinese, European Studies and Languages Drop-in session with an expert. Ask questions about referencing, essay layout or subject research for your first assignments.


Jonno’s journey to the TV newsroom

Monash journalism graduate Jonno Nash has made the transition from one of the best print and digital newsrooms in the country to the world of television.

Jonno,  who reported at the Herald Sun until recently, was recruited by Channel 10 in a highly competitive climate.

“I’ve always wanted to step in front of the camera but held off those ambitions after pursuing print,” Jonno said.

“There is a creative element to packaging TV news reports which is appealing to me.

“Unlike print, there isn’t a rigid structure to TV reporting. The journalists guide the audience through the narrative and let the images tell the story.”

Monash’s video journalism unit introduced Jonno to TV journalism.

“While I didn’t excel academically in this subject, I still value the skills I learnt in this course,” Jonno said.

“I still occasionally look at the video assignment pieces I produced. Despite not being polished pieces, I recognise this subject for pricking my interest in TV.”

Jonno said spending more than three years in the Herald Sun newsroom had been invaluable in improving his news sense and ability to craft hard and soft news stories.

“Fortunately these skills are transferable between mediums and has put me in good stead to chase and develop stories at Channel 10,” Jonno said.

Jonno said he built contacts while developing his career.

“I went out of my way to talk to as many industry professionals as possible,” he said.

“From sending an email to a Monash lecturer or arranging a meeting with a journalist on Twitter, I made sure I got my name out there and tapped into the knowledge of others.

“There are a number of jobs out there that aren’t advertised and getting the inside whisper on potential positions or an endorsement from an industry person can go a big way in securing a job in a metropolitan newsroom.”

Jonno said it was important to take on board any feedback to improve yourself.

“Don’t disregard the role feedback can play in improving yourself. Seek it and learn,” he said.

“If you article or piece is altered, find out why. Being adaptable and coachable are crucial components. I have also found investigating the pathways of media identities particularly valuable. LinkedIn is handy for this.”

“I have replicated aspects of work to that of my role models in hope I can one day reach their positions,” Jonno said.

” You’ll find they too endured a hard slog to get their foot in the door.

“Don’t be afraid to still do unpaid work. I still volunteer a couple of hours a week in hope that one day it might prosper into something attractive.”

Jonno said persistence was the key in the competitive field.

“Be ruthless and persistent. There aren’t many jobs out there and you’re competing against thousands of candidates outside your cohort across the country,” he said.

“Graduates are more willing to live interstate, so jobs aren’t handed out to locals.

“Send emails and make phone calls to editors and producers to sell yourself. It’s still very much a ‘who you know’ industry, so boost your profile by meeting as many people as possible.”

Study Journalism at Monash:


Monash Panel Discussion at Malthouse Theatre: ‘Nothing to Lose’

NothingtoLoose1CTP is proud to be part of the the first Monash Panel Discussion at the Malthouse Theatre.

Featuring professors from Monash University in the disciplines of Gender Studies, Theatre and Performance, Dr Yana Taylor (moderator), Dr JaneMaree Maher, Dr Claire Tanner and Dr Jodie McNeilly as well as Artistic Associate of Nothing to Lose, Kelli Jean Drinkwater.

Why are we so obsessed with body image? How does the media play into our image of self? And is ‘fat’ still a feminist Issue? To tie in with Force Majeure’s Nothing to Lose, this panel discussion will look at the shifting cultural fortunes of body image and beauty and ask how we perform our bodies to conform or challenge the status quo.

Panel Discussion: Nothing to Lose

A conversation series co-presented with Monash University.

Date/Time: Sunday 15th March/2 – 3pm
Location: Bagging Room (upstairs)

The first Monash Panel Discussion uses ‘Nothing to Lose’ as a starting point to discuss body image in today’s selfie-obsessed society.


30 free tickets set aside for Monash students who present their student cards at the Box Office. They need to be there before 1.50pm / 10 minutes before to pick them.

General admission / $10
Members / Free
Subscribers / Free

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Where are the women in radio?

Emma Nobel has produced Where are the Women?
Emma Nobel has produced Where are the Women?

Monash journalism Honours graduate Emma Nobel has produced an intriguing radio documentary, Where are the Women?, which was aired on Sydney-based FBi Radio’s All The Best on Saturday, March 7.

Emma’s practice-based project was submitted with an accompanying exegesis. All The Best is an influential radio documentary program in Australia starting careers of a new generation of audio producers now at ABC Radio National and independent media projects.

Click here to listen to Where are the Women?

Emma’s Honours supervisor, MFJ Head of School Associate Professor Mia Lindgren, said the radio documentary examined why there were so few female radio presenters on Melbourne radio.

“Emma interviewed leading radio broadcasters Jon Faine and Neil Mitchell about the lack of female radio voices,” Associate Professor Lindgren said.

Emma is keen for the dialogue about the lack of female radio voices to continue.

“Why don’t we hear more women on the radio? It’s a debate that’s been raging in Australia since the medium was introduced to our shores, but comparatively little academic research about the topic exists,” Emma said.

“The radio industry has neglected to pay close attention to the lack of women on air. As someone who wants to work in radio, I do wonder why there are so few female broadcasters in Australia and whether being female will be an obstacle in my own career.”

All the Best: Where are the Women?

Emma said many of the interviews suggested those in the industry felt that individual, rather than systematic, factors were seen to negatively impact women’s careers.

“Men dominated in all on-air positions across all stations in all timeslots every day of the week, though the findings may have been different had I been following this project during summer,” Emma said.

“ABC 774 often has women ‘fill in’ for their male colleagues while they are on holiday. Women were seen to be over-represented in ‘supporting’ production roles.”

Emma said her interviews with broadcasters across commercial, public and community radio, gave her a unique view of the industry.

“It was an eye-opening experience that allowed me an insight into the industry I want to work in, as well as unparalleled access to the broadcasters themselves,” she said.

“You bet I asked about getting a foot in the door! I was thrilled that All The Best included the documentary as part of their International Women’s Day special.”

Study Journalism at Monash:




Monash Journalism student wins Pulliam Journalism Fellowship

Monash journalism student Alana Mitchelson has been awarded the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship at the Indy Star in Indianapolis.

Alana is one of 10 fellows to be awarded the prestigious fellowship, which attracts applicants worldwide.

The fellowship involves a 10-week paid placement in the Indy Star newsroom and also attending writing workshops and seminars conducted by journalism experts.

Alana, who recently won the Sir Keith Murdoch Journalism Scholarship and completed a three-month paid internship at the Herald Sun, said she had hoped to work as a reporter overseas.

“I have had my heart set on undertaking an overseas reporting trip for some time as I wanted to develop a broader perspective of the journalism industry before seeking full-time work in Melbourne,” Alana said.

“After many hours of online research and almost 30 applications later, it is hugely encouraging that the Indy Star has faith in my abilities, especially having applied from such a distance, and that all my hard work is paying off.”

Alana said she was keen to learn more about American culture, make international professional connections and grasp a better sense of how journalism differs in the US.

“Being somewhat of an ‘outsider’, I hope to bring new ideas to the Indy Star and offer a fresh perspective,” she said.

“I am really excited to have been selected for such a prestigious fellowship and I am looking forward to challenging myself throughout this new venture.”

Click here to learn more about the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship.

Study Journalism at Monash:


Lecture: Dr Carrieri on Jewish musicians in Fascist Italy

la-difesa-della-razzaDr Alessandro Carrieri will talk on:

Memory and resistance of Jewish musicians in Fascist Italy

19th March, 5.30pm 

Caulfield campus, Building H, Room HB36

There are voices of resistance that are little heard but will remain alive forever. This is the case of Italian Jewish musicians and composers in Fascist Italy. After the announcement of racial laws by Benito Mussolini in Trieste on 18th September 1938, Jewish composers who continued to work in Italy during the two world wars were affected by racial (racist) laws. Prominent examples include Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Renzo Massarani, Vittorio Rieti, Aldo Finzi and Leone Sinigaglia. The situation for musicians and composers gradually worsened, they were excluded by theatres, orchestras and music conservatories. The works of Jewish composers were banned and they were defined as degenerate music.

In my presentation, I intend to analyse Aldo Finzi’s and Leone Sinigaglia’s musical experiences as an act of cultural and spiritual opposition to the Italian Fascist Regime. In fact, during the persecution of the Jews in Italy, their music was silenced as it was considered to be degenerate. Despite this, both Finzi and Sinigaglia continued their work as musicians clandestinely as an act of unarmed resistance. The activity of non-violent resistance should not be seen as a passive surrendering, but rather as one of the most authentic and profound forms of cultural and political opposition to Fascism.

Their music is a direct testimony of how Jewish musicians were able to resist the Fascist cultural policy through their art. Thus, their music becomes a historical document, a visual and auditory memorial of artistic resistance in Italy under Fascism.

Dr. Alessandro Carrieri is currently Teaching Associate in Italian Studies and Visiting Fellow at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. In 2013-14 he was a Research Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Science at the University of Trieste. His latest publications are: Lagermusik e resistenza. Viktor Ullmann e Gideon Klein a Theresienstadt, Silvio Zamorani Editore, Torino, 2013 and The Voice of Resistance in Concentrationary Music in «Political Perspectives» 2013, vol. 7 (2), University of Manchester.

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Screening: “Here and There: Everyday Life Narratives of Migrant Women from Turkey Living in Melbourne”

The digital stories that were produced in three workshops facilitated by Burcu Şimşek in the scope of the “Here and There: Everyday Life Narratives of Migrant Women from Turkey Living in Melbourne” will be screened on the first part of the event that will be held on March 4th, 2015 at ACMI.

Capture-2-e1425431881321-1024x730 (1)The project was supported by Hacettepe University Scientific Research Board, Moreland Turkish Association and Monash University Centre for Women’s Studies and Gender Research.

The event at ACMI, which is called “My Life Here While Your are There” will be run concurrently in Melbourne and Ankara and in the second part will enhance building an online storytelling bridge among migrant women living in Melbourne with their friends and relatives living in Turkey.

Find out more:


Violist Lisa Grosman appointed to the School of Music

LisaGrosmanThe Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music is thrilled to announce that violist Lisa Grosman will be joining the faculty as Lecturer in Viola, a position she is set to commence in March, 2015.

Lisa’s appointment is part of a new initiative by the String Faculty at Monash University to nurture and encourage the study of viola.  The initiative was introduced by Coordinator of Strings Elizabeth Sellars, and not only supports and enhances the educational experiences of current and prospective viola students, but will also provide undergraduate violin students the opportunity to study the viola for a year alongside their  violin specialization.

“Based on educational models often used in European Music Conservatories such as the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, this kind of training produces musicians who are flexible and perceptive in the chamber music setting and whose tonal palette is inevitably influenced by the viola’s rich and sonorous timbre” says Sellars.

As well as coordinating viola performance studies, Grosman’s expertise and performance experience will also be utilized in the exciting chamber music and ensemble programs running within the School. “Lisa Grosman brings to the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music a vast international experience as an orchestral and chamber player and as a music educator” says Head of School Professor John Griffiths. “This appointment demonstrates the School’s strong commitment to orchestral training and to enhancing the opportunities for stringed instrument performance.”

For more information, or to read Lisa’s biography please click here.

Study Music at Monash:


From tsunami to transformation

Keude Unga in the Jaya subdistrict of Aceh Jaya district
Keude Unga in the Jaya subdistrict of Aceh Jaya district

A decade after its devastation by tsunami, much of the Indonesian province of Aceh is at least as good as it was – and in some cases conditions are even better, say researchers who have assessed the area’s progress in the aftermath of disaster.

Nearly a quarter of a million people died and many more suffered during the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Aceh sustained the heaviest damage and had the most casualties: more than 220,000 people perished, another 500,000 were left homeless, and more than 116,000 houses were destroyed.

Its transformation since owes much to an unprecedented international response that raised billions of dollars for relief and reconstruction.

“Travelling through the areas that 10 years ago were scenes of total devastation, it is now increasingly hard to find signs that the tsunami ever occurred – except that most of the facilities and services are better than they were before,” said Monash University geographer Dr Craig Thorburn.

Dr Thorburn, who was initially an adviser to a major Australian tsunami recovery project, has continued to research the area’s rehabilitation and was invited to join the Aftermath of Aid Project, a collaboration by the Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technical University and Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh. With fellow researcher Dr Bryan Rochelle, he recently published a report, The Acehnese Gampong ten years on: A post-post tsunami assessment.

Dr Thorburn said the substantial financial investment was not the only factor at work. In August 2005, a peace treaty ended the long-running armed conflict between Acehnese separatists and the Indonesian military.

“The highly visible and largely successful rehabilitation and reconstruction of the province’s physical infrastructure and facilities has been accompanied by social and political changes hardly imaginable a decade ago,” he said.

There have been some exceptions to the success story. In particular, some people in villages that had to relocate were still struggling to resume productive lives, with many households lacking a reliable income source.

But most people in the study, even those who had lost assets or livelihoods, readily acknowledged that conditions were better than they had been before the tsunami.

“There were the obvious material improvements such as roads and electricity, and the relief of peacetime after years of conflict,” Dr Thorburn said.

“But people also felt more empowered because they had gained skills from their involvement in the recovery programs, and because they had increased confidence that their leaders were able to tackle problems as they arose.”

The Aftermath of Aid project is continuing, and will inform policy recommendations for both Australia and Indonesia, as well as international disaster relief organisations.

The Disaster Response Unit of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta (DFAT) commissioned the report.

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RISM/Italian Studies in the Community

Research in Italian Studies in Melbourne (RISM), is an initiative of Italian Studies at Monash University. RISM presents a series of seminars, based around an overarching theme, with the aim of bringing together scholars working in all the Universities of the Melbourne area as well as the general public.

The RISM seminars are regularly organised at the Italian Institute of Culture in Melbourne (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra) with whom RISM collaborates. Public lectures of international keynote speakers are also planned within the RISM series. For more information about RISM, please contact the organiser and founder Dr Patrizia Sambuco (

In the upcoming Semester 1 2015, the RISM seminars are:

19 March, 5.30pm
Dr Alessandro Carrieri, ‘Memory and resistance of Jewish musicians in Fascist Italy’
Caulfield Campus, Monash University

9 April, 6.30pm
Dr Mirna Cicioni, ‘Purists, Neo-Purists and Anti-Purists: Foreign Words in Italian, from the Fascist Campaigns to 2015′
Italian Institute of Culture in Melbourne (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra)

14 May, 6.30pm
Dr Patrizia Sambuco, ‘Egypt, Jerusalem, Libya: Journeys through Women’s Writings 1890-1938′
Italian Institute of Culture in Melbourne (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra)

11 June, 6.30pm
Dr Sabina Sestigiani, ‘Writing Colonisation: Violence, Landscape and the Act of Naming in Modern Italian and Australian Literature’
Italian Institute of Culture in Melbourne (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra)

Find out more:


‘Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood’ project on HiSNet

A new online resource supporting Australian families in early parenthood produced by The Health in Society Research Network (HiSNet)

The Health in Society Research Network (HiSNet) is a unique, interdisciplinary research network based at the School of Social Sciences dedicated to understanding health and illness experiences in the social context.

Under Sociology’s Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic’s leadership, the network is creating a unique database of a range of personal health and illness experiences elicited through narrative research. These are used to produce online resources to support people experiencing health challenges, contribute to health and social care service improvement, and influence health policy directions.

Based on narrative research conducted by Lead Investigator, A/Prof Renata Kokanovic and her team (Kate Johnston-Ataata, Caroline Hart and Nicholas Hill), the project is funded by Healthdirect Australia. The Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families website was launched in October 2014. This is the second online resource produced by Associate Professor Kokanovic’s research team, following the Experiences of Depression and Recovery in Australia website funded by ARC LP0990229.

The Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood website features the analysis of narrative interviews illustrated with excerpts from video and audio recorded interviews with 45 parents (36 women and 9 men) from a wide range of backgrounds and family arrangements, speaking about their experiences of becoming a parent.

People’s stories included their first thoughts about having children, experiences of conception and pregnancy (including surrogacy and IVF), difficult experiences such as miscarriage, premature birth or loss of a baby, labour and birth, and impact of becoming a parent on people’s relationships and their identity.

The research, the first of its kind in Australia, contributes to broadening the terms of the debates around emotions and distress in the perinatal period, and is unique in capturing in one study the diversity of family life in contemporary Australian society.

To date, the website has had over 3,500 visits, is being used as a resource in the NSW Year 11 and 12 subject ‘Community and Family Studies’, and features as an important resource on the Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) website supporting women experiencing perinatal distress.

The researchers were also invited by the Childbirth and Antenatal Educators Association (CAPEA) of NSW to participate in an educational webinar to discuss findings from the study and showcase the website.

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Monash academics draft working paper on ‘Women in Politics’

Monash Academics from the School of Social Sciences, Professor Jacqui True, Dr Swati Parashar and Dr Sara Niner, alongside Dr Nicole George from the University of Queensland, recently drafted a working paper addressing regional issues relating to increasing women’s participation in politics.

The paper, which focuses on the Asia Pacific region, is part of the ‘Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum working papers on Women in Politics by the Social Science Research Council.

The Asia-Pacific paper discusses the various forms of resistance that women’s participation in public life faces, including cultural and religious obstacles, as well as violence faced by women seeking public life or office.

The paper also offers ten key recommendations for increasing women’s political participation that target macro and micro efforts including state machineries, electoral mechanisms, political parties, international organisations, local civil society and international governance structures.

About the CPPF Working Papers:

One of the central tools for achieving gender parity is to increase women’s presence in spaces of political representation. Even when greater representation is achieved, however, a central question remains: will having more women in decision-making positions result in more gender-sensitive policies?

The CPPF Working Papers on Women in Politics series looks at how four different regions—the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa—have encouraged women’s political participation, and it evaluates the success of these efforts, examining the correlation between wider participation and changes in the political agenda, and noting specific policy measures that have been implemented and that may be needed to overcome barriers to gender parity.

Access the papers in this series on the Social Science Research Council website.

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Joint PhD program offers global research opportunities for philosophy student

Joint PhD student, Thomas Ryan
Joint PhD student, Thomas Ryan

Thomas Ryan is the first Monash University student to study at the University of Warwick as part of the Monash Warwick Alliance joint PhD program.

The four-year program offers students the opportunity to undertake research of global importance at the two research-intensive universities, engaging with established areas of Alliance research collaboration, while being guided by a supervisor at each location.

Thomas, who is researching the ethics of European philosopher Nietzsche as part of his PhDPractical Philosophy: a Therapeutic Revival, says the joint PhD program has offered him a range of opportunities.

“I am now part of the philosophy departments at Monash and Warwick and am able to interact with a whole new cohort of fellow graduate students and faculty, which has been really beneficial to my research.

Top UK and European philosophers who would rarely travel to Australia regularly visit the department, and because I’m working on a figure in European philosophy, there’s a long history of discussion and interpretation in which I can participate,” Thomas said.

Being based in the UK also allows Thomas the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops that will benefit his research:

“This academic year the Warwick Philosophy Department is hosting the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, the largest meeting of philosophers in the UK.  Being based in the UK, I’ll also be able to attend the Friedrich Nietzsche Society Conference, which is the most important conference in the study of Nietzsche,” Thomas said.

While in the UK, Thomas is also organising a conference, The Modern Appraisals of the Hellenistic Legacy, to be held in Prato, Italy later this year.

The conference is part of the project Prospects for an Ethics of Self-Cultivation, funded by the Monash Warwick Alliance Student led Activity fund.

The conference will be held in conjunction with Reinventing Philosophy as a Way of Life, an ARC-funded workshop convened by his supervisors Dr Michael Ure (Monash) and Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson (Warwick).

Thomas moved to the UK late last year and will be studying at Warwick for at least 12 months before heading back to Melbourne to finish his thesis. The move has given him another perspective on university life:

“It has been quite a change moving from Melbourne to a small town set in the Warwickshire countryside. Because of the quiet surrounds, campus life is much more active than I’m used to, but the philosophy department has been incredibly welcoming, which has helped with the transition,” he said.

Formed in early 2012, the Monash Warwick Alliance represents an innovation in higher education and research and aims to accelerate the exchange of people, ideas and information between Monash and Warwick Universities.

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