[csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz

Mark Gibson M.Gibson at murdoch.edu.au
Fri Jul 28 14:25:41 CST 2006

Looks like Greg might be the person to write the response piece. It would be
particularly effective, it seems to me, to name some of the Sydney academics
who have been involved in public discussions post-Cronulla. This surely is
the conclusive argument.

On the issue of communication contexts ­ recognising when it¹s  Œacademic to
academic¹ or Œacademic to public¹ ­ I personally would be inclined to frame
it as explanation rather than a demonstration of  Œdubious leaps¹ (ie.
Œgently, gently¹, as Paul suggests). The comparison with scientific language
is useful to a point, but I think we have to recognise that lines are
muddier in the humanities and social sciences. There are just not the same
protocols for deciding what sort of communication we¹re looking at. I
suspect that the range of people who might think they¹re being interpellated
by ŒEveryday Multiculturalism¹ is much wider than if it were ŒPotability
Analysis of Groundwater¹. There¹s a nice aspect to that ­ unexpected
encounters with people you wouldn¹t have thought would be interested ­ but
it can also cause problems, as perhaps in this case.

-- Mg

On 28/7/06 11:58 AM, "Gregory Noble" <G.Noble at uws.edu.au> wrote:

> Hi all
> Whether Emma Dawson is a decent person or not is beside the point - the
> article in questions rests on a dubious leap that is too frequent in
> contemporary journalism. The author says it is OK for academics to engage in
> abstract theorising, but then says we can't do it in relation to this topic.
> Indeed, it takes what is a simple call for papers and makles it stand for what
> the author sees as the left's failure to communicate with a broader public.
> That's just plain silly, for several reasons.
> 1. This is a document designed to address academics - and it's not
> particularly obscure in any case. If it is OK for academics to talk amongst
> themselves at some point, then it is ok for them to use a language that those
> addressed will comprehend.
> 2. To say we can't do this because the topic is of public importance is like
> telling scientists and engineers not to use terms drawn from mathematics and
> physics when they are considering solutions to Sydney's water supply and
> usage.
> 3. The conference is designed to get academics thinking differently about
> multiculuralism - get out of ther attack/defend mode and generate new
> approaches to understanding the complexity of the day-to-day experiences of
> diversity - this has ramifcations for informing interventions in public
> debate, but this process always requires some spoace for thinking away from
> the pressure of translating this into public debate.
> 4. The article assumes that because some academics use theory to talk about
> issues germane to everyday life that they are unwilling or incapable of
> changing register and communicating with a non-academic audience at other
> times. This is, of course, a non sequitur. It would be like me assuming that
> because the author has made a mistake in her logic that she is incapable of
> engaging with intelelctual debate.
> 5. Related to this, it claims that, apart from 2 exceptions, that academics
> have not engaged in public debates about multiculturalism specifically in the
> aftermath of the Crionulla riots. This is just factually wrong - I could name
> more than a dozen Sydney academics who have been involved in public
> discussions about these issues - it is a sdhame the author hasn't come across
> these items in the press, TV and radio - and on the internet
> I have read other work by the author and yes there are better examples of an
> engagement with these issues - and talking with her rather than against her is
> the best way to proceed. Perhaps the conference organisers might ask her to
> attend and give her paper and listen to others - maybe a specific session on
> the issues she raises.
> (oh, and by the way, let's not get sidetracked on the left/right terminology
> debate - they are the author's terms in any case)
> Cheers
> Greg
> Dr Greg Noble
> School of Humanities and Languages
> University of Western Sydney
> Bldg C - Penrith campus
> Locked Bag 1797
> Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia
> and
> The Centre for Cultural Research
> Bldg EBa - Parramatta Campus
> Tel  +61 2 47 360 365
> www.uws.edu.au/ccr
> Co-author of 'Bin Laden in the Suburbs' (Sydney Institute of Criminology,
> 2004)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: csaa-forum-bounces at lists.cdu.edu.au on behalf of Laknath Jayasinghe
> Sent: Fri 28/07/2006 1:07 PM
> To: csaa-forum at lists.cdu.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [csaa-forum] Another attack on CS in the Oz
> Err...
>   Sorry. I really do apologise for the repeat post, but that should read: "not
> remain on separate islands...".
>   Cheers,
>   LJ.
> Laknath Jayasinghe <think_broadly at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
>     Hi all--and good afternoon.
>   Actually, to be fair, I know Emma; and I know that both her politics and her
> heart is firmly planted in the right place. Although there are some things I
> could pick apart in the article, she does make a legitimate criticism--that
> cultual and media studies researchers should also engage with the broad
> community. I thoroughly agree with that. We do much exciting work in fresh and
> interesting areas, but quite often it seems that the ideas just don't get out
> to the broad public. Of course, given the climate of Nelson-Bishop, McGuiness
> and Bolt, the task is more difficult. We have to be more creative and more
> persistent.
>   In fact, this is something that Graeme Turner alluded to in a paper he
> delivered in 1999, arguing that--apart from the academic stuff we do--we
> should be doing more work in the 'public sphere', the broad public sphere,
> that is. I take my cue from him. I believe that we should build academic
> bridges, but remain on separate islands. The mass media here in Oz, from both
> my professional and academic experience, are open to articles and letters that
> take new and exciting ideas to the public--from all political positions. Of
> course, language must be modified and the ideas recrafted and tailored to the
> audience; very few allusions to Bhabha, Butler or Bourdieu here!
>   Also, must we always 'dichotomise' our debate into 'left / anti-left' etc.?
> I remember having a brief chat with Toby Miller after he presented a paper
> here  in Melbourne a few months ago, and he was aghast at the polarity of
> discourse in some Australian cult studs work. Much of the work we do is so
> inspiring--politically, ethically and academically. I know I'm guilty of this
> at times, but does our politics move within frames of the "either/ or"; or is
> it really a case of a trillion shades of grey?
>   Were the Cronulla Beach rioters, for example, "racist"? I don't think so. We
> need a more nuanced language to describe contemporary Australian, indeed
> global, politics. Left and right (and upper, middle, working class etc) seem
> such ancient terms and they so imprecisely get at what is really going on in
> contemporary everyday life. What do these terms mean, particularly at the
> level of a rapidly globalising and shrinking everyday? Perhaps commercial
> research organisations such as Roy Morgan Research and AC Nielsen are more on
> the ball in terms of describing and classifying some of the social and
> cultural trends in contemporary Australia.
>   I recently completed my MPhil in cultural studies at UQ, where I examined
> masculinities in Nick Cave's early performances. Now I'm at Unimelb's
> Melbourne Business School, researching a PhD in marketing (using much cultural
> and media studies research, by the way). It's certainly a more conservative
> space from the one I previously moved within. Ian Harper, an economist over
> here at MBS, was recently appointed by John Howard to chair the IR / Fair Pay
> Commission. Does that mean I must abdicate my "left-ish" politics? I certainly
> hope not!
>   Anyway, look forward to hearing the many and varied takes on this issue.
>   Cheers,
>   Laknath.
> Laknath Jayasinghe
> BSc, BBus (Mktg), MPhil
> PhD student (Marketing)
> Melbourne Business School
> The University of Melbourne
> 200 Leicester Street
> Carlton 3053 
> Australia. 
> p. +(613) 9349 8297 (Daytime)
> e. think_broadly at yahoo.com.au  Send instant messages to your online friends
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Dr Mark Gibson
School of Media Communication and Culture
Murdoch University
South Street, Murdoch
Western Australia 6150

Editor, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies

Director, Centre for Everyday Life

tel:   61-8-9360 2951
        0439 695 703
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email:  M.Gibson at murdoch.edu.au

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