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This Academic's Life
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
Pivotal events and experiences that shaped the lives, careers and research of our academics. A podcast from the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.
Nov 1, 2019
Many people have ideas about what life in an Aboriginal community is like. They're often negative. Wiradjuri man and ANU historian Dr Lawrence Bamblett paints a different picture. He grew up on Erambie mission, and it's where he still lives today. “There are things that aren't so good obviously, but all communities have that," Laurie says. "Not all communities are defined by them in the way that we are. But for those of us who are inside the community, we see a different world – one where everybody cares about you.” Laurie started a reading program that has greatly improved childhood literacy within his community. He went on to do a PhD and become a teacher, but realised that in the course of successfully integrating into western society, he'd begun to lose touch with his roots. “The way that I spoke when I went to university wasn't really conducive to that because it was confusing students,” he says. “I used a mixture of Wiradjuri and English, and what they call Aboriginal-English. I eventually got out of that and I changed the way I speak.” “For a minority group, trying to push back against assimilation, those little day to day things become big things. So I feel like I've been disconnected from my community in those ways – I was so busy going out giving lectures and talking and teaching outside the community that I'm not passing it on inside the community in the way that I was meant to be.” He has found himself torn between two worlds: western society and academic life, which he thoroughly enjoys, and living more closely connected to his culture. Laurie recalled the words of the late and legendary Aboriginal activist Isabel Coe that they're not changing the system – the system is changing them. “Maybe I just need to accept that we can't change the system. It really does change us. But I'm not there yet. I'm not willing to concede that yet. I'm still trying to find a place where we can have one foot in each world.” Laurie Bamblett is a Wiradjuri historian, teaching at the Australian National University, who uses history as a tool of community development projects at his home community, Erambie Mission. His research interests include cultural resurgence and the ways that representations of identity affect engagement between Aboriginal communities and mainstream institutions and services. … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Intermezzo” by Podington Bear. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. The production assistant for this episode was Brandon Tan. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Oct 11, 2019
A place to call home
When we encounter someone who doesn't seem native to Australia, the question that rolls so easily off the tongue is 'Where are you from?' followed by 'Why did you leave?' For Tina and Renee Dixson, queer human rights activists who were forced to flee their country of origin, the answer isn't so simple. And the question can actually be a bit offensive. “Often those questions come across almost as justification for why you're here or whether you're deserving to be here,” Tina explains. “They go hand in hand with narratives of who is a real refugee, and almost the amount of violence you experienced to qualify.” In this episode, Tina and Renee reframe the conversation around people who have been displaced. We don't go into their origin story and discuss the reasons for that. And we challenge the notions mainstream Australia has about refugees: who they are and who they can be. The Queer Displacements conference is running from 14-15 November. Find the program and buy tickets here: http://bit.ly/QueerDisplacements Spaces are limited. Renee Dixson is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Renee’s research interests are digital humanities, queer theory, feminist theory, and the intersection of gender, sexuality and refugee status. Together with Tina, she is a co-founder of a refugee-led support and advocacy group for LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women titled the Queer Sisterhood Project; and a co-convenor of the first Australian conference on the issues of LGBTIQ asylum called Queer Displacements: Sexuality, Migration and Exile. You can follow Renee on Instagram @reneedixson Tina Dixson is a feminist academic and a policy professional, who has worked in the areas of LGBTIQ, refugee and women’s rights. Tina has a strong experience engaging with international human rights bodies and international policies on refugees. Tina is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University researching lived experiences of LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women in Australia. You can follow Tina on Twitter @TNDixson … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Inspiring filaments” by Podington Bear. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. The production assistant for this episode was Brandon Tan. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Sep 20, 2019
This Italian life
“I spend most of my days dreaming about Italy,” says ANU Italian Studies lecturer Dr Josh Brown. It's not just the romantic aspects of Italy that he's drawn to. Yes, he loves the art, culture, cuisine. But he's equally drawn to the mundane, the frustrating... and the smog. “That's the fascinating stuff for me,” he says. “And they are interesting from a sociological point of view in a certain sense. Because you think, why does this country have these problems and why does it have this image? And how do you live in these conditions?” In this episode, Josh reflects on what it means to be Italo-Australian, what it takes to fit in in Australia and in Italy, and whether it's possible to research and truly understand a place without living there. Dr Josh Brown is Lecturer and Convenor in Italian Studies, ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. After completing his PhD in history of the Italian language in Perth, he held a two-year position as Cassamarca Assistant Professor in Italian at The University of Western Australia. From 2016-17, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Italian Studies at Romanska och klassiska institutionen, Stockholm University, before coming to ANU in 2018. His research program follows several different lines of enquiry in language history, with a particular focus on languages in contact in non-literary writing. He is the author of several monographs including _Early evidence for Tuscanisation in the letters of Milanese merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402_ (2017) and co-author of _Canon Raffaele Martelli in Western Australia 1853-1864: Life and letters_ (with John J. Kinder, 2014). He is currently editing a volume on _Languages of_ _Renaissance Italy_ (with Alessandra Petrocchi), which will encompass a broad range of languages and language varieties including Hebrew, Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Middle English primary sources. More recently he has been investigating how tools from Digital Humanities can open up new questions for language historians. … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Inspiring filaments” by Podington Bear. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. The production assistant for this episode was Brandon Tan. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Aug 30, 2019
From politics lecturer to political candidate
Dr Kim Huynh has always felt like he wanted to do something a bit different. “Not necessarily better, but in many ways I'm an applied social scientist,” he says. “Everything I teach I want to apply: I want to apply ideas about leadership, I want to apply ideas about creativity, I want to apply ideas about what it means to belong in a society.” This urge has seen him try his hand at a lot of different things. One of the biggest was running as an independent candidate in the 2016 ACT election. “I knew enough about how the electoral system in Canberra works and the challenges of starting from scratch too, that I wasn't going to win. But at least I could've said I tried.” In this episode, Kim talks about how fleeing Vietnam with his family during the Vietnam War shaped his identity. He discusses his 23 years at ANU and how he is inspired by his students' courage – which was part of what motivated him to run for politics. Kim Huynh came to Canberra as a Vietnamese refugee when he was two and has lived here ever since. He has had a go at a few things. He worked in a bakery for much of his youth and now teaches refugee politics and political philosophy in the ANU School of Politics and International Relations. He ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 ACT election (GoKimbo.com.au). Kim’s currently having a go at being a roving reporter for ABC Radio Canberra. He’s written fiction (Vietnam as if... Tales of youth, love and destiny) and creative non-fiction (Where the Sea Takes Us: A Vietnamese-Australian Story). Kim’s academic efforts include co-authoring Children and Global Conflict and co-editing The Culture Wars: Australian and American Politics in the 21st Century. He’s also written for Australian newspapers and the BBC Vietnamese and is writing a book on Australia’s Refugee Politics. … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Blue blanket” by Podington Bear and “Rodney Skopes” by Blue Dot Sessions. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. The production assistant for this episode was Brandon Tan. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Aug 11, 2019
An education in sex and sexuality
Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen recalls a conversation she had with her father back when she was doing her PhD. He had driven two hours to pick her up from a retreat, and he asked what her PhD was about. “Gender,” Mary Lou replied, hoping that general term would sound sufficiently uncontentious. “Well, what's there to know, Louie?” he responded. “There's girls and there's boys, and that's all there is to it.” Mary Lou was raised by loving, conservative parents and went to a Catholic all-girl high school. She researches gender, sex and sexuality, and is also gay. In this conversation, she talks about how her life took the trajectory that it did. We discuss sex education in schools, including the confronting lesson she personally received in high school, and her research on attitudes and policy in the realms of religion, young people and sexuality. Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen works in the ANU School of Sociology. She has undertaken research in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Her research focuses on building transdisciplinary understanding of sexuality and gender across diverse lifeworlds, taking account of issues related to sexual citizenship, cultural and religious difference and technologies of sexuality, education and health. She is co-editor, with Louisa Allen, of the Handbook of Sexuality Education (Palgrave). … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “We may be remembered by what we did when we sat down” by Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Jul 18, 2019
My life with an accent
Dr Susanna Scarparo Associate Professor in Italian Studies in the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, and outgoing CASS Associate Dean (Student Experience). She studied literary studies as an undergraduate in Italy and holds a PhD in Italian and Comparative Literature from the University of Auckland. Her research program follows four main trajectories within the broad interdisciplinary fields of Cultural Studies and Italian Studies: Italian cinema, women filmmakers, contemporary women writers (with special attention to autobiography and biography), feminist theory (with special attention to sexual difference theory), global studies, migration and diaspora studies (focusing on narratives and life writing). She is the author of Elusive Subjects: biography as Gendered Metafiction (2005) and is co-author of Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women’s Filmmaking (with Bernadette Luciano, 2013), and Reggae and Hip Hop in Southern Italy: Politics, Languages and Multiple Marginalities (with Mathias Stevenson, 2018). She has co-edited Violent Depictions: Representing Violence across Cultures (with Sarah McDonald, 2006), Across Genres, Across Genres, Generations and Borders, Italian Women Writing Lives (with Rita Wilson, 2005), and Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Italian Culture: Representations and Critical Debates (with Charlotte Ross, 2010). She has also published numerous articles and book chapters on life writing, feminist theory, women’s historical fiction, Italian cinema and literature. She teaches Italian language and culture, and cinema, and has taught global studies, life writing, and literary studies … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “The Poplar Grove” by Blue Dot Sessions. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Jun 28, 2019
The choice she didn’t have to make
Dr Alison Behie is the Head of Biological Anthropology and the Deputy Head of the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology. Her research focuses on how all primates (human and non-human) adapt in the face of severe environmental change. She was awarded an ARC DECRA fellowship for a part of this work that explores how non-human primates adapt their behaviour and distribution to survive following severe weather events – with some of this work featured in her paper “Hurricanes and Coastlines: The role of natural disaster in the speciation of howler monkeys” and her most recent book "Primate Research and Conservation in the Anthropocene". Another key area to her work is to understand how stress during pregnancy in Australian women, caused by environmental disasters and other sources, impacts the development of children and their birth outcomes. This work has been published in papers including “Prenatal smoking and age at menarche: influence of the prenatal environment on the timing of puberty” and media outlets including the ABC ("What happens to pregnant women when disaster strikes"). This work hits close to home for Alison as she underwent two years of IVF to conceive her second child while maintaining her academic career and conducting research on pregnancy and child development. While doing both at the same time was often challenging, it has given her a new perspective on both her own work and the importance of work-life balance, for which she is an advocate. Follow Alison on Twitter @BioanthBehie … The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Curious” and “Discovery” by Jon Luc Hefferman; “Danse Morialta” by Kevin MacLeod; and “In Paler Skies” by Blue Dot Sessions. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.
Jun 6, 2019
The snake-catching sociologist
Sociologist Associate Professor Gavin Smith’s day looks like that of most other academics. He delivers lectures, does research, answers emails. The afternoon is when his day departs from the norm. That’s when he’ll go off to handle a snake that someone has found in their laundry or backyard. Here, Gavin talks about how he got into snake-catching, the connection he has with these feared and misunderstood creatures, and the snake-related sociological research he’s embarking on. Associate Professor Gavin J.D. Smith is the Deputy Head of the ANU School of Sociology where he researches the complex nature of tracking cultures in health, penal, work and familial contexts. This project is founded on conceptual ideas he has published in his monograph *Opening the Black Box: The Work of Watching* (2015, Routledge) and in influential papers such as Surveillance, Data and Embodiment: On the Work of Being Watched and Data Doxa. A key focus of his work is the examination of how people differentially experience forms of surveillance: from the perspective of watching and being watched. In his spare time he is a licensed snake catcher and educator with ACT Snake Removals. He is turning this practice into an object of study where he will fuse herpetological and sociological insights to analyse human-snake encounters. Follow Gavin on Twitter @gavin_jd_smith ... The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown. Other music used in this episode: “Fifteen Street” by Blue Dot Sessions. This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.