Category Archives: AAPS news

AAPS response to cuts to Pacific Studies in the ANU’s School of Culture, History and Language

The Australian Association for Pacific Studies has written to the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Brian Schmidt, to express its concern about the loss of positions in Pacific Studies.

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Professor Brian Schmidt
Vice-Chancellor
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601

Dear Vice- Chancellor,

Re: Australian Association for Pacific Studies concerns about the loss of Pacific Studies academics located in the School of Culture, History and Language

Research in Pacific Studies has long been a core strength of the Australian National University, and has historically been regarded as central to its role as a national university. The Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) strongly condemns the recently announced cuts in funding for staff in the field of Pacific Studies at the ANU. The Association remains concerned that these cuts will have prolonged, detrimental effects on the capacity of the Australian National University to engage in research and teaching on the Pacific region.

The Australian Association for Pacific Studies was formed in 2004 with the aim of advocating for the international excellence of Australian research and teaching in Pacific Studies, and of promoting public knowledge of the region and the study of Australia-Pacific relations. Our membership includes scholars from across Australia as well as from across the region—many of whom studied Pacific Studies at ANU—and who engage with diverse fields including anthropology, gender, geography, health, history, law, literature/cultural studies, media studies, linguistics, museums/cultural heritage, the arts, political science, sociology, adult education, sustainable agriculture and community development. The AAPS recognises and asserts both the particular significance of the Pacific region for Australia, and the particular responsibilities that Australia has to its Pacific neighbours. Australia is bound to the Pacific neighbours through rich histories of migration and exchange—including histories that long pre-date ‘Australia’ as a nation-state.

Australia’s relationship with our Pacific neighbours is defined by patterns of cultural exchange and through significant economic relationships, as well as through our geographical proximities and through shared ecological vulnerabilities that will only increase in the face of climate change. These relationships are defined by complex colonial histories, including Australia’s own colonial interventions within the region, which are already underrepresented in this country’s national narratives as well as in its school and university curricula. The recognition of this particular significance of the Pacific region for Australia drove the investment in and expansion of Pacific Studies in the post-WWII period. It is this significance that is now being run roughshod over by this wave of funding cuts, and with it the recognition—felt keenly by the post-war policymakers (Lal 2006)—that a successful, productive, and ethical Australian engagement with the Pacific must be founded in deep understanding of the region.

Nationally, the AAPS is concerned that the recent cuts to Pacific scholars in the School of Culture, History and Language, signal and reflect a withdrawal of sustained investment in scholarly engagement with the Pacific region. This is profoundly short sighted, and it will be damaging to the future of Australia’s relationships—cultural, political, intellectual, and economic—with our Pacific neighbours. Our members remain concerned that the effects of the cuts to the School of Culture, History and Language, will be multiple and severe. They include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • The loss to the ANU of high calibre, leading scholars in the field of Pacific Studies. These include Dr Vicki Luker, lecturer and executive editor of The Journal of Pacific History, ARC Future Fellow Stuart Bedford, Associate Professor Paul D’Arcy, and Associate Professor Mark Donohue. Those that have been, or will be lost also include a significant number of early and mid career researchers, and to this extent the cuts represent a profound attack on the next generation of Pacific Studies scholars and on the future of Australian Pacific Studies scholarship.
  • A radical reduction in the capacity of the ANU to support the growth of Pacific Studies scholarship by Pacific scholars. This has long been a strength of the ANU, and a key plank of its importance as Australia’s national university.
  • Nationally, the gutting of what has long been the heart of Australian Pacific Studies. Indeed, the ANU Pacific Studies Program is the only Pacific Studies Program in Australia.  These cuts threaten Australia’s position as a site of international research excellence in the field.
  • A marked diminishment of the kinds of scholarship and deep understanding that make possible vibrant people-to-people relationships between Australia and the Pacific Islands, as well as strong and successful political, economic, and security relationships.
  • The impoverishment of Australia’s sense of itself, and of its place in the Pacific region and in the world.
  • The impoverishment of Australia’s knowledge of its history, and of the kinds of futures it is able to imagine and build for itself.
  • The impact on the morale and capacity of our Asian Studies colleagues.

The AAPS calls on the ANU to act immediately to reverse these short sighted and deeply damaging cuts to Pacific Studies. We urge the Vice-Chancellor and the leadership of the ANU to demonstrate strength of vision by recognising the deep significance of the Pacific region for Australia, and to act with courage and integrity to ensure the ongoing centrality of Pacific Studies within the University.

Passed as a resolution of the Executive Committee of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies on the 3 June 2016.

Executive Members needed, AGM 3 April 2016. Cairns

AAPS is looking for new executive board members! We need a Digital Media Officer (to maintain our website), a Secretary, and a new President. Let us know if you are interested in any of these positions and make a contribution and change to Australian Pacific Studies! These positions will be filled and voted upon at the AGM on 3 April in Cairns.

Important: These are all voluntary positions. If you become an executive board member you will have to be able to committ yourself for at least a year. If you are living in Australia and seriously interested in fulfilling one of these positions, send an e-mail with short CV and motivation letter to: members@pacificstudies.org.au

CALL FOR PAPERS: AAPS Conference

CALL FOR PAPERS

Tides of Transformation: Pacific Pasts, Pacific Futures

The 6th Biennial Conference of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies

The Cairns Institute, James Cook University
Cairns, North Queensland, Australia
1-3  April, 2016

Through this interdisciplinary conference the Australian Association for Pacific Studies, in collaboration with the Cairns Institute, seeks to bring researchers together to share their knowledge and experience about critical dimensions of social and environmental transformation in the Pacific. The following panels have been submitted and accepted by the conference organising committee:

  • Pan-Pacific Music of Protest
  • Shifting Cultures, Shifting Languages: A Pacific Perspective
  • Transference: Continuity in Time, Time in Continuity
  • Possessing Paradise: Commodification and Desire in the Pacific
  • Tourism, Culture and Heritage in the Pacific: Transformation or Marginalisation?
  • Transforming Gender Relations in the Pacific
  • Adaptation, Resilience and Changing Land and Marine-based Livelihood Systems in the Pacific
  • Digital Transformations: Shifting Communication Spaces in the Pacific
  • Pacific Legal Systems, Past, Present and Future
  • Joining the Dots – Abandoned Histories
  • Managing and Understanding the Role of Archaeological and Cultural Heritage in the Pacific
  • The Interdisciplinary Panel on Climate Change
  • Mobile Labour, Mobile Lives
  • Aging in the Pacific: Intergenerational and Transnational Care
  • TransOceanik: Creole Connections across the Pacific, the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans
  • Through the Lens: Visualising Pacific Lives
  • Emerging Research: Postgraduate Student Panel

We now warmly invite papers for these panels.

Paper abstracts should be 300 words or less and should be accompanied by the contact details of the presenters. Please email paper abstracts directly to the panel convenors (see details in the the Call for Papers)

AAPS Conference Call for Papers

Deadline for submission: 1st December 2015. For general enquiries regarding the conference, please contact:

Kalissa Alexeyeff k.alexeyeff@unimelb.edu.au

Tides of Transformation: AAPS 2016 conference call for panels issued

The Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) will have it’s 6th Biennial Conference from 1-3 April, 2016, at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. The theme of the conference is Tides of Transformation: Pacific Pasts, Pacific Futures

Tides image

Conference Conveners: Professor Rosita Henry and Associate Professor Douglas Hunt (JCU).

Through this interdisciplinary conference the AAPS, in collaboration with the Cairns Institute, seeks to bring researchers together to share their knowledge and experience about critical dimensions of social and environmental transformation in the Pacific. We warmly invite panel proposals and papers that engage with issues that impact on the current and future wellbeing of peoples of the Pacific. 

Panel abstracts should be 300 words or less and should be accompanied by the contact details of the convenor/s. Please email panel abstracts to Kalissa Alexeyeff k.alexeyeff@unimelb.edu.au
(deadline: 30 September, 2015).

Paper abstracts will be called for once all panel proposals have been submitted 

Inaugural Epeli Hau’ofa Lecture Cairns

Associate Professor Tracey Banivanua Mar (La Trobe University) delivered an inspiring inaugural Epeli Hau‘ofa Annual Public Lecture entitled Black Australia: entangled histories on Queensland’s cane fields, followed by a moving presentation by Melbourne-based filmmaker Amie Batalibasi at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University on 29 May 2015.

Tracey Banivanua Mar

Banivanua Mar fittingly began her lecture by acknowledging the work and legacy of Faith Bandler who passed away on February 13, 2015. Banivanua Mar spoke of moments of resistant politics on the fringes of Queensland sugar towns in the nineteenth century, protests against deportation in 1906 and the Black Power inspired struggles for recognition in the 1970s, showing how through these Australian South Sea Islanders, Murris and Islanders in the Pacific have together produced powerful forces for change. Although often consisting of contingent moments of connection, rather than enduring political networks, she argued that this is a historical narrative yet to receive the acknowledgement it deserves. If measured from the criteria implied by Hau’ofa’s eloquent plea to overcome the smallness and disconnection of the colonial era, these political moments were significant formations of internal decolonisation. Amie Batalibasi discussedAAPS Presentation_ Amie Batalibasi_Image by Jacintha Bezgovsek WEB artistic projects that she had worked on with Australian South Sea Islander descendants. She showed examples from these collaborative films and discussed her latest project Blackbird, a short historical drama film set in the early 1870s that narrates the story of a brother and sister from Solomon Islands who are made to work on Queensland’s sugarcane fields. Her work provides a clear contemporary illustration of the political projects outlined in Banivanua Mar’s lecture and signalled the new ways Australian South Sea Islander histories and futures are being further decolonised.
(Image credits: Tracey Banivanua Mar photo by Iva Ponton; Amie Batalibasi photo by Jacintha Bezgovsek)

The inaugural lecture was preceded by the Annual AAPS AGM. The two and a half hour meeting covered election of the new Executive Committee and the implementation of membership fees voted on at the 2014 AGM. The AAPS Website, designed by Rachel Morgain, was presented and launched to much acclaim! Plans for the next AAPS conference were discussed. The conference Tides of Transformation: Pacific Pasts, Pacific Futures will be held at James Cook University in Cairns and is being organised by Rosita Henry and Doug Hunt, from 1 to 4 April 2016.

The AAPS executive expresses sincere thanks to Associate Professor Rosita Henry of James Cook University, Cairns Institute Director Professor Stewart Locke and Associate Professor Doug Hunt for facilitating our 2015 AGM and annual lecture, and for volunteering to host the 2016 conference. Thanks particularly to Jenny McHugh for her work on organizing these events.

AGM Cairns 2015

The Annual General Meeting for the Australian Association of Pacific Studies has been called:

Friday 29 May (1.30-4pm)
Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Followed by the Inaugural Epeli Hau’ofa Annual Lecture (5-7pm) 
Associate Professor Tracey Banivanua-Mar in dialogue with filmaker Amie Batalibasi