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Please note: the conference is in BUILDING 2 on the UC Bruce campus. 
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DAILY FORECAST (care of Describing Things in Canberra):  

Wednesday Canberra weather: regardless of any thing Neil Finn may have said, you don’t really have your own personal weather bubble. You can easily test this by travelling from the Woden Valley to the northside on foggy morning. Or getting on a plane in December and flying to Helsinki.

So those of you who are in Canberra today will probably experience much the same weather as each other. Warm to hot and slighty sticky. The weather equivalent of spilling cocoa on your new trousers.

Chemical interventions such as deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and anti-histamines are strongly indicated. Consider long before you commit to opaque tights, however hairy your legs are. Once the sun is over the yard arm, applications of gin and tonic may be beneficial.



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Monday, November 28 • 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Stolen Identities :: 2A12

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Brenda Fitzpatrick: Stories to Change the World (Just a Little Bit Stolen)

Advocates have used stories of suffering and survival to bring about change in policy and practice to confront violations of law and human rights.  There is an essential, accompanying requirement that the telling must not constitute theft. Identities must be protected. Ownership must be respected. But undoubtedly, sharing stories ensures awareness of the humanity behind what legal and theoretical debates. The personal can influence the policy. Stories are powerful instruments for change. This writer sets out to show how that might be done.
      There has been a change in international norms regarding rape in war. After centuries of acceptance that rape in war was inevitable there is now recognition of it as a deliberate tactic of war. There has been accompanying rejection and international response. The conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda – and the international criminal tribunals set up to deal with crimes in those arenas were instrumental in establishing tactical rape as a serious breach of international law, a war crime, an instrument of genocide and torture.
      In the United Nations, in the courts, in the public media and in academic debate, stories of victims and survivors played a part in effecting attitudinal change. Stories of indifference on the part of authorities were highlighted. The strength as well as the suffering of victims and survivors was told.
      Using these stories brings great responsibility – to avoid sensationalism, to protect and respect the owners of those stories. Used with respect they are powerful and can make a positive difference. 

Harriet Gaffney: Romancing Theft

This paper examines the legacy of Romanticism on Australian settlement.  It investigates how a public hungry for writing of all genres and schooled for centuries by the adventure tales of white heroes—“free”, as Patrick Brantlinger notes, “of the complexities of relations with white women”—came to believe in the authority of the theft of Aboriginal land, and to so casually disregard the violation of her people.
      Through close analysis of an account by the Victorian settler, Joseph Tice Gellibrand, this work seeks to unveil how word and action often belie one another, acting to legitimate what was in fact unlawful through what Foucault refers to as a “hazardous play of dominations”.
       Furthermore, I examine how the perception of legitimacy continues to operate in the contemporary Australian milieu, seeking to make clear through anecdotal evidence the connections between ideologies past and present, and to demonstrate how in this country (more perhaps than any other), the written word has everything to do with property, and ownership, and authority.
      In this way I conclude that it is through the written word, first and foremost, that we can help to bring about social change: through writing that seeks, as Jen Webb states, “to make things visible”, to “provide a platform” from which to disrupt the cultural orthodoxy and the phenomenology of colonialism and thus unsettle notions of settlement and sovereignty.  
      My work draws on Tim Fulford, Martin Green, Peter Kitson and Saree Makdisi’s explorations of British Romanticism; on the post-colonial discourse of Bill Ashcroft, Clare Bradford, Paul Carter and Stephen Muecke, and on Michel Serres exposition of the sensate realm of experience and the history of the Australian state of Victoria in an attempt to bring into being alternate narratives of place. 

Karen Gibson:  Re-Reading Jeannie Gunn and Laura Ingalls Wilder:  Racism, Myth-Building, and Reader Identification in Two “Pioneering” Narratives

Two books, both initially aimed primarily at juvenile audiences, have enjoyed immense popularity in their own countries of origin and around the world.  Yet, in recent years, both have received mixed reviews from critics regarding their portrayals of indigenous people.   Both authors reflect back on an earlier period of their own lives with nostalgia, a nostalgia that becomes entangled with early twentieth century myths of nation building and “settling” of “unoccupied” territories, resulting in often unfavorable representations of indigenous communities.  Despite these disparate readings by critics, both books continue to be used in educational settings and are often prominently displayed on library shelves.
      Drawing on post-colonial theories of children’s literature, this comparison of The Little Black Princess of the Never-Never (Australia; 1905) and Little House on the Prairie (U.S.A.; 1935) will focus on the books’ similarities, and the underlying messages they convey to young readers, in an attempt to understand their enduring popularity as well as to evaluate their potential value for a new generation of readers.  

Rosemary Sayer: Identity theft: The missing narrative identity of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia

More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide; the highest number since the end of WWII. In his book  Across the seas – Australia’s response to refugees: a history (2015) Klaus Neumann describes the response to refugees and asylum seekers as “one of the twenty first century’s most controversial and seemingly intractable ethical, political and social issues …”  Much of the public discourse about refugees and asylum seekers in Australia is de-humanising, negative and politicised. Governments and media have often created untrue narratives by grouping all asylum seekers and refugees together and exploiting people’s anxieties about security, borders and terrorism. This has resulted in a theft of identity for many individual people from a refugee background and the development of a misleading collective identity.
      In this paper, I will explore how narrative identity can be re-discovered and developed by refugees through a collaborative process of working with a non-refugee narrator. In producing an alternative narrative and different view of the lives affected, I will also explore whether greater community engagement can be fostered at the same time as expanding the scholarship of education and human rights. As Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith posit in Human Rights and Narrated Lives (2004) “personal narratives expand audiences around the globe to be educated about human rights abuses”. Life stories can engage and influence readers to become more informed, reflective and active. I will discuss how this collaboration can be empowering for refugees to help them reclaim their stolen identities and dispel misleading narratives being disseminated about them.



Jen Crawford

University of Canberra
Dr Jen Crawford is an Assistant Professor of Writing within the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra. She has also taught in New Zealand and Singapore. Her most recent collections of poetry are Lichen Loves Stone (Tinfish Press, 2015), Koel (Cordite Books, 2016) and 5,6,7,8, co-authored with Owen Bullock, Monica Carroll and Shane Strange (Recent Work Press, 2016). 


Brenda Fitzpatrick

Dr Brenda Fitzpatrick is a writer with extensive experience in refugee camps and conflict zones. Working with humanitarian organisations she helped inform and challenge global policy makers and leaders to recognise the use of rape as a weapon and a tactic of war, a breach of international law, a violation of human rights, a war crime, a crime against humanity and genocide. She is the author of many papers, reports and the book, Tactical Rape in... Read More →

Harriet Gaffney

Griffith University
Harriet Gaffney is a PhD candidate in the School of Humanities at Griffith University, with Honours and Masters degrees in Professional and Creative writing from Deakin University. Using fiction as methodology, her research seeks to unsettle notions of place and sovereignty in the post-colonial context.  In 2015 Harriet was awarded the Varuna Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship to further her work and was a finalist in the Melbourne Lord... Read More →

Karen Gibson

Director, WORD Studio, St Lawrence University, NY
Karen Gibson is currently Director of the WORD Studio (writing center) at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. She previously taught for the State University of New York. Her publications include an article on American modernist, John Dos Passos, as well as a study of narrative technique in the short stories of Native American author, Maurice Kenny. Her research interests are currently centered on children’s literature and writing... Read More →

Rosemary Sayer

Curtin University
Rosemary Sayer is a writer, former journalist and a business communications consultant. She is currently undertaking a PhD in life writing and human rights at Curtin University.  | Rosemary has written three non-fiction books. The biography of Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of Hopewell Holdings, The Man who Turned the Lights On, was published in 2006 and the biography of Trevor Eastwood, The CEO, the Chairman and the Board, was published in... Read More →

Monday November 28, 2016 1:30pm - 2:30pm
2A12 Building 2, UC

Attendees (16)