You have until 14 February to make a submission. Go now. There are fears that this review “Is Actually About Entrenching Discrimination, Participant Says“. Please make a submission.
I submitted this essay for assessment (I got a HD) in the first trimester of last year. It’s relevant to a twitter conversation so I’m posting it here as submitted. All errors are mine.
Please research and critically discuss examples of the ways in which museums and/or governments are responding to the issue of repatriation. Do you think they are effectively addressing some of the problems of the past?
After the settlement of Australia by the British in 1788, the collection of Indigenous Australian remains and objects began with collected items ending up in both Australian and international museums, and in private collections. The acquisition of these remains and objects occurred in circumstances that today would be seen as illegal (Chamberlain 2005). Remains and objects were largely collected “to preserve evidence of cultures that appeared to be disappearing” (Simpson 2009, p. 128), and to support a ‘scientific’ view that Indigenous Australians were “deeply inferior” (Fforde 2009, p. 42) to Europeans. This essay will examine two case studies of the returns of remains to Indigenous Australian communities, the governmental and institutional responses to repatriation of remains and objects, and how repatriation of remains and artefacts addresses problems of the past.
The Return of Tasmanian Ash Bundles
In March 2006, the British Museum decided to return two Tasmanian cremation ash bundles to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (British Museum 2006a). These ash bundles had been stolen by George Augustus Robinson in the 1800s and eventually donated to the British Museum in 1882 (British Museum 2006b, Material Religion 2007). The passing of the Human Tissue Act in the United Kingdom in 2004 and the British Museum developing their policy on human remains in 2005 facilitated this return (British Museum 2006a, Material Religion 2007).
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre had been requesting the return of these items since 1985, and the British Museum initially claimed that they were unable to agree to the request as they did not have the power to de-accession objects in their collection (British Museum 2006b). The return of the ash bundles involved an assessment that the ash bundles had been “well documented, published, studied and recorded” (British Museum 2006b, p. 1) and that returning the ash bundles would “not lead to any loss of existing information” or “offer any further significant information in the future” (Material Religion 2007, p. 157).
The British Museum (2006b, p. 2) acknowledged that for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community that the existence of the ash bundles and human remains in the museum “embodies all the pain of dispossession and genocide which they experience on reflecting on their colonial history”.
The Return of Remains from Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri Nation, South Australia
The Edinburgh University adopted a pro-repatriation policy regarding human remains in 1990, after long campaigning by Australian Indigenous groups (Fforde 2009). The remains that the Edinburgh University held were from all over Australia, but the majority of them were from the Ngarrindjeri people of South Australia (Fforde 2009). The remains of the Ngarrindjeri people had been collected by William Ramsey Smith in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Elmslie and Nance 1988). Ramsey Smith was Adelaide’s “coroner, inspector of anatomy and chairman of the Central Board of Health” (Elmslie and Nance 1988) at the time and he sent the remains to Edinburgh University (Scobie 2009). Although the remains have been returned to the Ngarrindjeri people via the Repatriation Unit of the National Museum of Australia, the Ngarrindjeri people have not had the funding to rebury all of their ancestors (Fforde 2009, Scobie 2009).
The Ngarrindjeri people have also had remains returned to them from the Australian Museum in Sydney, Museum Victoria and the Royal College of Surgeons in London (National Museum Australia 2003, The Wire 2004), and have reported that the return of their ancestors is healing damage of the past (Scobie 2009)
The return of human remains
Indigenous Australian groups have been requesting from overseas and Australian museums the return of the human remains of their ancestors and objects that were stolen or taken from them. As evidenced above, the return of human remains from Australian and British institutions has been facilitated by the UK Human Tissue Act and by institutions voluntarily returning remains. This has not meant that all institutions in the UK have returned remains, or that all remains repatriated to Australia have been returned to Indigenous groups.
The Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation (2014) recommended that for those remains that are returned to Australia without further provenance, that they be housed in a National Resting Place. Where remains are only provenanced to states or territories, the remains are kept in one of the eight museums funded for this purpose, so that the remains are closer to home and that further identifying work can be undertaken to identify which Nation they came from (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014).
The Australian Government’s position on the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains is that they should be returned unconditionally and voluntarily, and with the collaboration of the relevant peoples (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014). However, some institutions in the United Kingdom are very reluctant to return remains to Australia. The Natural History Museum, for example, has previously claimed that they cannot return remains if they those remains will be reburied, or in some cases buried for the first time, because their researchers will lose access to the remains for further scientific examination (Turnbull 2007). Turnbull (2007) argues that as most of the Indigenous Australian remains held by institutions outside Australia are less than 500 years old, the scientific information that can be gathered from the remains could be gathered from their descendants and that there is no need to retain the remains in museums and institutions.
The return of objects
The Australian Government has stated that they seek “the return of secret sacred objects only from within Australia” (Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, p. 6), and not from overseas despite the fact that these objects were often stolen, looted or obtained through “the gross inequality of power” (Besterman 2009, p. 109). Indigenous Australians who seek the return of artefacts held in institutions outside Australia have to negotiate the return on their own, and generally institutions are not willing or able to return objects (Reppas 2007).
In 2002, Directors at eighteen of the largest museums in the world signed a statement taking a stand against the repatriation of objects in their collections (Reppas 2007). The museums argued that objects in their collection “find value in their juxtaposition with other objects” (Gorman 2006, p. 79) and that “the privileged position of non-Western objects and cultures within contemporary knowledge systems would not have been achieved were it not for the position of acquired objects within the great museum” (Gorman 2006, p. 79). These museums claim that current ethical codes or laws should not be applied to their historical acquisition processes, and that their current collections have added to the national heritage of the countries in which they are based (Gorman 2006). In making these statements, these museums disregard the effects of their previous acquisition policies on those peoples who have been negatively affected by colonialism, claiming that removal of items from their collections would be more harmful than past practices.
The British Museum cannot de-accession objects in their collection after a High Court ruling in 2005 which prohibited the museum returning drawings looted by the Nazis to the rightful heirs, unless those objects are duplicates or useless (Reppas 2007). The High Court ruled that more recent Acts of Parliament overtook the UK Government’s previous adoption of resolutions and conventions that spoke to the return of objects to people and nations who had been dispossessed of them (Reppas 2007). Clearly the UK Government is afraid, as per Prime Minister David Cameron’s comment in 2010 that “If you say yes to one [request], you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty” (Associated Press 2016).
Consequently, regardless of how the British Museum and other UK Government funded museum institutions obtained the objects in their collection, they cannot return them to their rightful owners. This is contrary to the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) Code of Ethics for Museums (2013, p. 10) which states:
- 2 Return of Cultural Property
Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogues for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin. This should be undertaken in an impartial manner, based on scientific, professional and humanitarian principles as well as applicable local, national and international legislation, in preference to action at a governmental or political level.
- 3 Restitution of Cultural Property
When a country or people of origin seeks the restitution of an object or specimen that can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of international and national conventions, and shown to be part of that country’s or people’s cultural or natural heritage, the museum concerned should, if legally free to do so, take prompt and responsible steps to cooperate in its return.
ICOM’s Code of Ethics is a voluntary set of principles for museums and in this case it is not the museum that is preventing the return of stolen or looted objects but the UK Government, their legislation and willingness to take the matter to court if a museum attempted to return an object.
In 2013 the Australian Government enacted the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cth) to prevent museums and institutions where objects are being loaned to losing “ownership, physical possession, custody or control of the objects because of:
- legal proceedings in Australian or foreign courts;
- the exercise of certain powers (such as powers of seizure) under Commonwealth, State and Territory laws; or
- the operation of such laws.” (Explanatory Memorandum)
This legislation was created after the Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Group obtained an emergency declaration under Australian heritage protection laws to stop the return of bark etchings which had been on loan from the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Surrey in 2004 (Fray 2004, Daley 2015). The etchings were returned to the United Kingdom after the court case to retain them was unsuccessful (Fitzsimmons 2015).
The legislation has meant that the British Museum and other institutions are willing to loan Indigenous Australian objects, and other objects and artworks, to Australian museums and institutions (Daley 2015). On one hand, it means that Indigenous Australians can reconnect with their culture but on the other, it is a reminder that these objects are held outside Australia and that they were taken from them through theft, force or coercion (Daley 2015).
Addressing the problems of the past
While the return of remains from museums and institutions around the world have been welcomed by Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government, issues remain regarding the return of objects from museum collections. Tom Trevorrow, the chairman of the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee, who has worked to for the return his ancestors’ remains stated that “healing is beginning” (Scobie 2009) now that his ancestors are back on their country. Fforde (2009, p. 47) states that “repatriation is fundamentally about facilitating the rights of a source community to decide the future of their ancestors’ remains”. Indigenous Australians whose ancestors have been returned after removal “gain control over their history and culture” and “some dignity is restored” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).
The return of remains to Indigenous Australians rectifies some of the past wrongs against them and their ancestors and it is both a spiritual and cultural necessity as it assists in the preservation of their way of life (Chamberlain 2005). Chamberlain (2005, p. 349) also argues that the failure by overseas institutions to return objects “could amount to a denial of such peoples’ right to maintain their culture or to manifest their religion”. However, one option available to museums who are unable or unwilling to return objects to their rightful owners, is to involve the traditional owners of the objects in how those objects are displayed and interpreted which would give the traditional owners a sense of control over those objects (Davies 2004, Gorman 2006).
The Australian Government’s commitment to the repatriation of Indigenous Australian remains and the repatriation of secret-sacred objects held in Australian museums supports Indigenous Australians connection and ownership of their heritage (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Australian Museum 2007). Returning objects to the originating Nation or peoples goes a long way to assist in rebuilding identity and can help Indigenous Australian cultural renewal through knowledge transmission (Roehrenbeck 2010, Simpson 2009). Simpson (2009, p. 122) writes that “the repatriation of ceremonial materials from museums may be … linked to strategies to aid recovery from post-colonial trauma, and … to contribute to indigenous health and well-being.”
Although some museums and institutions are repatriating Indigenous Australian remains to their descendants and objects to their traditional owners, there are still museums and institutions who have not done so, or who are unable to do so due to governmental regulation. The return of remains and objects to Indigenous Australians is highly important to them, and adds to the healing of the ongoing trauma of colonialism. In the future when museums and institutions that are currently unable to return objects have those obstacles facing them removed, revisiting how this affects Australia’s Indigenous population, what objects are sought, and whether the objects are preserved or used will add to the understanding of the importance of repatriation.
Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Resting Place Consultation Report, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/National-Resting-Place-Consultation-Report-2014.PDF>
Associated Press 2016, ‘India changes tack over return of Koh-i-Noor diamond’, The Guardian, 20 April, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/20/india-changes-tack-over-return-of-koh-i-noor-diamond>
Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, Australian Government Policy on Indigenous Repatriation, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/australian-government-policy-on-indigenous-repatriation-august2011.pdf >
Australian Museum 2007, ‘Repatriation Policy for Australian Aboriginal Secret/Sacred and Aboriginal Ancestral Remains Collections’, Australian Museum, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://australianmuseum.net.au/Uploads/Documents/7546/repatriation-2007.pdf>
Besterman, T 2009, ‘Returning a stolen generation’, [Part of a special issue: Return of Cultural Objects: The Athens Conference], Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 107-111. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01665.x. [23 April 2016].
British Museum 2006a, Human Remains: Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/management/human_remains/repatriation_to_tasmania.aspx>
British Museum 2006b, Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania: Dossier Item 1: Departmental Report, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/Final_Dossier.pdf>
Chamberlain, K 2005, ‘We Need to Lay Our Ancestors to Rest—The Repatriation of Indigenous Human Remains and the Human Rights Act’, Art, Antiquity & Law, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 325-352.
Daley P 2015, ‘Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show’, The Guardian, 9 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/09/indigenous-australians-enduring-civilisation-british-museum-repatriation>
Davies, C 2004, ‘Property Rights in Human Remains and Artefacts and the Question of Repatriation’, Newcastle Law Review, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 51-64.
Elmslie R & Nance S 1988, ‘Smith, William Ramsay (1859–1937)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smith-william-ramsay-8493>
Explanatory Memorandum, Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Bill 2012 (Cth), retrieved 24 April 2016, <https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2012B00214/Explanatory%20Memorandum/Text>
Fforde, C 2009, ‘From Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri nation, South Australia’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 41-47. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01673.x. [23 April 2016].
Fitzsimmons H 2015, ‘Indigenous tribe demands Dja Dja Wurrung bark exhibits on display at British Museum be returned’, ABC News, 25 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/victorian-indigenous-tribe-demand-bark-exhibits-be-returned/6419998>
Fray P 2004, ‘Bark etchings fight’, The Age, 27 July, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/07/26/1090693902586.html?from=storyrhs>
Gorman JM 2006 ‘Universalism and the new museology: impacts on the ethics of authority and ownership’, in Marstine J, Bauer A, Haines C, (eds), New directions in museum ethics, pp. 77–87, retrieved 24 April 2016, EBL
ICOM 2013, ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, ICOM, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://icom.museum/the-vision/code-of-ethics/>
National Museum Australia, Largest return of Aboriginal remains, National Museum Australia, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.nma.gov.au/media/media_releases_by_year/2003/28_april_2003_largest_return>
Reppas, MI 2007, ‘Empty “International” Museums’ Trophy Cases of Their Looted Treasures and Return Stolen Property to the Countries of Origin and the Rightful Heirs of Those Wrongfully Dispossessed’, Denver Journal of International Law & Policy, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 93-123.
Roehrenbeck, CA 2010, ‘Repatriation of Cultural Property-Who Owns the Past? An Introduction to Approaches and to Selected Statutory Instruments’, International Journal of Legal Information, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 185-200.
Rotsy M, Gifford P, Hirst R, Moginie J, Garrett P 1987, Beds Are Burning, song, Colombia, Diesel and Dust
Scobie, C 2009, ‘The long road home’, The Guardian, 28 June, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/28/aborigines-reclaim-ancestors-remains>
Simpson, M 2009, ‘Museums and restorative justice: heritage, repatriation and cultural education’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 121-129. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01669.x. [24 April 2016].
‘The Return of Tasmanian Aboriginal Ash Bundles by the British Museum’, [Interview with the British Museum’s Deputy Director, Andrew Burnett], 2007, Material Religion, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 156-158. Available from: 10.2752/174322007780095735. [23 April 2016].
The Wire, Museum Vic returns Ngarrindjeri remains, The Wire, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://thewire.org.au/story/museum-vic-returns-ngarrindjeri-remains/>
Turnbull P 2007, ‘Scientific Theft of Remains in Colonial Australia’, Australian Indigenous Law Review, 11(1), Available from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUIndigLawRw/2007/7.html, retrieved 23 April 2016
Hi all, it’s been ages since I blogged because I have been busy with school, life, more life, and then some more life. I’ve missed you all and I only have one more semester to complete in my course (Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies), which I will write about later (much later, like in November when I’m back from being overseas after I’ve finished my course).
But anyway, there is a Down Under Feminist’s Carnival to share with you all, and I should get right on that. Thanks to Chally and Scarlett for providing submissions for the carnival.
At Tea and Oranges, “Reflections on women in public life“:
But I reckon there must be a way to change how we work so that a steady simmer is the maximum setting. We don’t need anyone to be at a roaring boil, at risk of flooding over and drenching the flames and ruining the whole thing. It’s actually inefficient, really risky, and it means that some of the people at the top get there based on whether they can put in total life commitment long hours – not on other more important criteria.
Emily at Emily Writes wrote, “Dispatches from a car seat wet with an unknown substance“:
I’ve been trying to work out how to say thank you in a way that totally encapsulates the huge and actually quite overwhelming gratitude I feel for you all. When I had to go offline the most beautiful and loving messages started flowing in by email, and then not just by email – by post too.
Judy Horacek provides a collection of comics on the topic of Quests at her blog.
Marian Lorrison writes at the Australian Women’s History Network, “‘Of idle and vagrant habits’: Women and divorce in colonial Australia“:
Most historians realise how difficult it is to trace the intimate lives of ordinary women, especially those of the working class, who were too busy earning a living to write letters or diaries. This is why colonial divorce records offer the historian such a variety of archival treasures, revealing abundant detail about the daily lives and loves of women from different social classes and backgrounds.
Marian Lorrison at Australian Women’s History Network reviews Susan Magarey’s “Passions of the First Wave Feminists” with, “From puritanical wowser to passionate reformer: The re-making of Australia’s first-wave feminists“:
‘Passion’ is not a word usually linked with feminists of the so-called ‘first wave,’ who have received more than a little bad press since they began to agitate for the franchise in the 1880s. The story of suffrage in Australia has been overwhelmingly portrayed as an isolated middle-class phenomenon. This is perhaps inevitable given the scholarly focus on the movement’s leaders, who were for the most part affluent women with time and money enough to pursue political causes. Ian Turner’s inflammatory 1969 claim that Australian women were handed the vote on a plate is also no doubt a reflection of the idea that suffrage in Australia was unexciting and uneventful, with an all-male legislature magnanimously bestowing citizenship upon the women of an enlightened and fledgling nation.
Deb Lee-Talbot at Australian Women’s History Network reviews “Creating A Nation: 1788-1990” with “Fashioning a woman’s place: The creation of an inclusive Australian history“:
One particularly outstanding element is how well this collaboration of authors wrote fluid yet separate chapters. McGrath’s chapters (1, 6 and 12) focus on Aboriginal historical experiences and Quartly’s chapters (2, 3 and 4) present historical narratives about the colonies between 1788 and 1860. Grimshaw’s chapters (5, 7 and 8) create a framework through which to conceptualise Australia from Federation to 1912, whilst Lake’s chapters (9, 10 and 11) finally focus on the more recent twentieth-century history.
Vicky Nagy at the Australian Women’s History Network writes, “The Essex poisoning ring“:
In the midst of tumultuous events in mid nineteenth-century England (revolutions on Continental Europe, famine in Ireland, Chartist revolts, and women demanding the right to vote) the deaths of a few children, two husbands and one brother – all working class, all living in rural villages around Essex, and spaced out over five years – should have barely caused a ripple. However, the events between 1846 and 1851 in the north-west and north-east of Essex caused tension amongst pharmacists, physicians, politicians, newspaper reporters and their editors – not to mention the general populace, who were now riveted to any news about the so-called Essex Poisoning Ring.
Micro-aggressions, race and racism
Stephanie at No Award writes, “Continuum: First Aid for paper cuts“:
Sometimes micro aggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re so tiny and insignificant that I’ve called them paper cuts since before I knew what micro aggressions were.
The thing about micro aggressions, though, is that you have to be on guard for them; and sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut, and all you think of when you look at that project paperwork is bleeding on it.
proudblacksista writes at Ramblings – conquering kids and cancer, “The trouble with AMS“:
I have trouble maintaining my medication regime at (Local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Medical Service). I go to the service, my whole family goes and it annoys me that I have to see a health worker, I tell him or her, what I am there for. If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be there so why do I need to see the bouncer of the AMS. I then go back to the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor. My name gets called and I don’t see the doctor, I have to explain to the nurse why I am there and she takes my blood pressure we talk about that and when she has finished I don’t go into the doctor, I get sent back to the waiting room. After another wait, my name is called again and I finally see a doctor. But It’s not the same doctor I saw last time I was there and I have to tell him what I have already told the health worker and the nurse. I ask for a refill of my medication, should be easy, but it’s not this bloke needs me to give him my entire history, I dutifully submit to him taking my blood pressure, checking me over and asking me again why I need the (list of medications).
Tessa Prebble writes at The Spinoff, “Ableism is everywhere. Parents of children with disabilities are challenging it, are you?“:
For people in the disability community, the abled community’s shock at these instances of ableism is frustrating. Frustrating because they’ve been trying to tell us this all along. They’ll look at what I’m writing and wonder why it took this story being told by an abled white woman, the parent to a disabled child – and not a disabled person herself – before anyone listened. They’ll shake their heads, because we should have known about this discrimination already. This shouldn’t be news. And they’re right.
Stephanie went to Continuum and writes about SF and horror at writes at No Award, “Continuum: SFFH with Asian characteristics“:
This is not a panel write up; it’s more of a rambling meander of panels I was on and panels I witnessed and thoughts I had along the way. It includes recommendations. But all of it is talking about Asian (mostly Southeast Asian) science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “How watching ‘Search Party’ is like looking into a millennial mirror“:
Major spoilers ahead for the first season of Search Party – particularly the finale.
When we’re introduced to Search Party’s protagonist, Dory (Alia Shawkat), she’s going through the motions in a stagnant relationship with Drew (John Reynolds), who generally whines for Dory to fix him a microwave dinner when he’s hungry and uses her for his solo sexcapades.
Scarlett Harris writes for SBS, “Comment: I can’t get a rental because I own a dog. So now I’m homeless“:
Jennifer Duke, review editor at Domain.com, agrees, telling me that the lack of rentals that are pet-friendly results in “at some point, some pet owners [having to] make the decision between having a roof over their head and keeping their dog or cat. These are adults who are having their life choices and choice of companion dictated to them by a landlord.”
Jess Moss at The Spinoff writes, “Your different brain: How we will tell our child about her diagnosis“:
When we received our girl’s diagnosis last year, we didn’t tell her.
Neither of us queried whether we’d fully explain it to her or not. We both assumed that we wouldn’t for the time being. She’d just turned six and the list of compartmentalised issues on report was long.
Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear writes, “The Narcissism of Margaret Court“:
The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.
An anonymous post at The Spinoff, “The Masterbatorium: A queer experience of conceiving“:
For years we referred to our bathroom as ‘The Masterbatorium’. We were a house of women who liked showers and baths very much, but the naming came from what happened in our bathroom once a month for six months.
Rebecca Shaw writes at Kill Your Darlings, “Wedded to the System“:
On 18 May, Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving behind his partner of over 50 years, Peter de Waal. The two men were activists from the very beginning of their relationship until the very end of Bon’s life, appearing in a video for marriage equality as recently as April. They simply wanted to be equals, and dedicated their lives to that cause.
Emily at Emily Writes has organised a “Wine Mum Night” in Wellington (I think). Anyway, it sounds great and if you can go, you should.
All posts in this section should be viewed with trigger warnings for harassment, assault, rape, abuse, etc.
Julie at The Hand Mirror writes, “Colin Craig is an abuser“.
And that’s it. Thank you so much for reading. Please volunteer to host (check out the future carnivals page to see free slots), leave comments on bloggers’ posts, share the carnival on your blogs/social networks, and read away.
Well technically it’s posts relating to feminism from December 2016, but let’s celebrate the end of that dumpster fire of a year and hope that we can find the strength and love to fight the creeping fascism around our region and the world for this year. May all our favourite celebrities, friends and family members live at least another 5+ years and we get all the cuddly animal love that we want.
If you enjoy this collection of feminist+ posts from around Australia and New Zealand AND think it might be cool to host yourself, please volunteer. Hosting is actually quite easy, I and other people will send you quite a few blog posts for inclusion, and all you need is a bit of time to list them and a blog in which to include them. Some of us might even loan you our blogs if you don’t have one of your own, but are interested in putting one of these carnivals together. We can talk about that later. Information is available here on how to volunteer.
Without further volunteers the carnival, which has been going for a long time, will fail, so please form an orderly queue and volunteer. It’s fun, interesting, and not a lot of work. Volunteers are needed from the end of this month (January 2016) onwards.
Thanks to Chally, Ana, Mary and Jessica for sending through submissions for this month.
To the carnival!
The ACL were fire bombed, and then they weren’t and Chrys Stevenson wrote about it at the Stirrer, “ACL Perverting The Truth“:
Shelton blamed left-wing politicians and activists for inciting the ‘attack’. Our sin? Accurately describing an organisation which dedicates millions of dollars and the vast majority of its time towards attacking the LGBTIQ community as a ‘hate group’.
What has since transpired is that the ACL’s building was not “rammed”. The vehicle appears to have been parked neatly outside in a parking bay.
Nor was it ‘attacked’. After speaking to the driver and his family, Federal Police confirmed the incident was neither politically, religiously, nor ideologically motivated.
“Cartoonist” Bill Leak attempted to draw yet another cartoon vilifying the LGBTIQ+ community in Australia, and it made little sense. Rebecca Shaw attempted to explain it to us at SBS, “A lesbian tries to figure out what the heck Bill Leak’s latest cartoon is about“:
Ah yes. Get it? Perfectly clear. You see everyone, there is a gay boat. I would say ‘gay cruise’ because that is much more funny and clever, but I highly doubt Bill Leak knows about cruising, considering the only depiction of gay men he seems to know is based entirely on the Gimp from Pulp Fiction.
Tyrone Unsworth suicided in November 2016 and Rebecca Shaw penned this thoughtful post some days later. “Tyrone.“:
There have been my own words, and all of the words from people in my community, voices blending into a chorus of rising up and shouting out. Not as one, because they have come from every perspective you can imagine, but all with a similar pursuit. A diverse community forced to reason, goad, justify, explain, bargain, plead, protest and demand that they simply be given the freedom to live as they are. A community full of people who have had to fight to be allowed to live. Not live as in Laugh, Love, Live. Fight to literally live. To survive in a world that has made it difficult, if not often impossible, to exist in. And with each concession, with each tiny step toward the place we should have already been from the start, with each ‘victory’, we have had to keep fighting, mired by the world around us.
Lucinda Horrocks shares oral histories of the Gay Liberation Movement in 1970s Melbourne in the Culture Victoria exhibition, Out of the Closets, Into the Streets, “Out of the Closets: A homosexual history of Melbourne“:
So to understand what was at stake for lesbians and gays to take to the streets, we need to cast ourselves back into an earlier mindset. If you were queer, Melbourne before Gay Lib was an intolerant world. ‘If we found ourselves catapulted back to the 1950s it would be kind of a nightmare,’ says Dr Graham Willett, historian and author of Living Out Loud – a history of gay and lesbian activism in Australia. As Graham explained when we interviewed him for our project, while a camp scene (the term ‘gay’ was not used before the 1970s) had flourished in Melbourne since at least the 1920s, it was hidden, coded and discreet. ‘Mostly what [gay and lesbian] people had to put up with was the discrimination, the sense that they were disgusting in the eyes of lots of people or somehow flawed’ says Graham.
Chris Kelly, Chancellor of Massey University, said some very sexist things and then didn’t quite apologise, and then resigned. Stephanie Rodgers has all the detail at Boots Theory, “Massey Chancellor: women graduates only worth 40% of a real veterinarian“:
Does this actually need unpacking? Are we actually on the cusp of 2017 and I have to spell out why it’s so insulting, small-minded and frankly bizarre to be write off women’s professional abilities and value because they might have babies?
What about women who don’t want to have kids? What about women who enjoy more practical study than theoretical? What about women who don’t just go into veterinary science because (as implied further on in that godawful article) they love puppies and kittens and ickle babby wabbits?
Natalie Kon-Yu and Enza Gandolfo recently attended a conference and the plenary speaker was incredibly sexist, “Embedded misogyny: the academic erasure of women“:
Outside Natalie was joined by several other academics who had quietly walked out of address, and some who were too smart to go in in the first place. The academics Natalie spoke to included men and women from several different ethnic backgrounds. No-one could believe that at a conference in a creative field in Australia in 2016, a plenary speaker could be so blind to gender (and to race, for that matter – but that’s a whole other paper).
The world lost many great people in 2016, including Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Anna wrote about them both on Hoyden About Town, “2016 Hoydens: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher“:
Instead of doing my own inadequate round-up of commentary on Carrie in her role as General Leia in the Star Wars verse, I suggest heading over to The Mary Sue to browse through their terrific series of articles. Most people posting early footage of Debbie have chosen Good Morning from Singing in the Rain, which I freely admit is irresistible, but we must remember what a long-term, all-round star of the golden age she was, so I have put something more obscure but no less joyful below. Though people think of them both first as actresses, they also gave us a model of the possibility of a textured, mercurial yet utterly solid relationship between mother and daughter (plenty of re-watchings of Postcards From the Edge going on around the place this weekend), and Carrie was an absolute lion in the crusade to make it acceptable and understandable to live a rich life while negotiating mental illness.
At Flip That Script, they’re dreaming of a feminist Christmas, “Women: mothers, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers. Here is your ‘not to do list’ this silly season.“:
It is not a women’s job. We are not natural at it. We don’t necessarily ‘like it’. Social conditioning is a thing.
Women (girls) are taught to run events and functions, and men (boys) are taught to enjoy them. Christmas is no exception. Christmas is the peak. Sure, everyone needs to chill out more on Christmas. To slow down, pull back on the consumerism, and to just have fun times with friends and family. But everyone has to eat, and everyone has to get together in the first place – and those things require careful, considered planning. Logistics are hard work.
Tangerina writes about how women already do lots of unpaid labour that asking us to volunteer to raise the profile of the unpaid labour and the pay gap seems a little off, “Female Dancers Needed“:
But volunteering and ‘joining movements’ are one in the same. We have always given generously of ourselves and our skills, we’ve always handheld our friends and family through emotional labour, hit the streets with pamphlets, cared for our elderly, chaired meetings, hosted (and fed) fundraisers and then got up and went to our lower paid jobs afterwards. And the level of generosity and corresponding pay gap only gets higher and wider for Women of Colour.
Ana Stevenson reflects on how Ms. Magazine disrupted the masculinist language associated with the Christmas season in 1972, ““Peace on Earth Good Will to People”: Holiday Reflections on Ms. Magazine“:
The message itself was controversial. Taking the deep red and forest green associated with Christmas and tweaking these colours to hot pink and fluorescent green, it simultaneously reframed a phrase with foundations in Christianity and emotive resonance surrounding the holiday season.
The phrase Ms. sought to redefine is derived from the King James Bible. Luke 2:14 relates the annunciation to the shepherds, an episode in the Nativity of Jesus. After an angel tells of the coming of the Messiah, more angels appear, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Celeste Liddle writes at Eureka Street about discovering her grandmother was a member of the stolen generations, and how Aboriginal workers have been exploited forever, “Aboriginal workers still slipping through the gaps“:
It would be nice to think that free Aboriginal labour is firmly rooted in the shame of the past and as a nation, we have moved forward. Yet in 2015, the Federal Government decided to roll out the ‘Community Development Program’ (CDP) in remote areas of the country. The CDP is a remote Work for the Dole program and has been widely condemned; not just by the Australian Council of Trade Unions but also by recent Jobs Australia report which shows how harmful it is. People engaged in the Community Development Program are required to work 25 hours per week year round for only their Centrelink payments and if they fail to comply, they can be cut off. Reports show a community-wide decline in purchase and consumption of fresh food as participants are cut off from their payments leaving other impoverished family members more financially-stretched.
Luddite Journo at The Hand Mirror writes about the disturbing research that suggests that “science” can predict whether children are going to grow up to be criminals, “Three year olds, “science” and burdening society“:
The problem here is not that people without enough are a burden on society. It is that we have structured our society so that many people do not have enough but the rich can thrive. Finding ways to blame three year olds for intergenerational, entrenched poverty and racism is a quite the side-step, even for the most vicious of benefit bashers. I wonder how well Professor Poulton’s test predicts white collar crime? I’m sure it takes into account the institutional racism which study after study has identified in our criminal legal system. And I’m certain he found a way to pay attention to the fact that the children of rich people may not need to access social services in the same way because they are well-protected by the wealth of their parents.
Brigitte Lewis examins the roots and impact of feminist digital activism, both online and off, “Feminist Digital Activism: The revolution is being streamed, snapped and tweeted“:
While the internet is undoubtedly a cesspool of sexual harassment, it is also the site of digital activism. With the creation of digital activism, a feminist and female-led revolution, once pronounced dead – has been reignited. As Gil Scot-Heron famously said, “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (1970); somewhere, on the internet, it will be streamed, photographed, tweeted and then turned into a meme.
Mary over at Puzzling.org writes a continuation of a series, “Moving to Australia as a progressive in 2016: discrimination, violence, and activism“, this time covering Indigenous dispossession and oppression, refugee rights, worker’s rights, racial equality and anti-racism, LGBTI rights, women’s rights, disability rights, and sex work.
2016 in review and looking forward to 2017
Andi Buchanan’s year in review.
Tigtog at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Open Looking Forward to 2017 Thread”
It almost fits, blue milk wrote about what December looks like in her part of Australia, “What December 2016 looks like (in the subtropics)”
Reproductive Health and Choice
After Catherine Deveny had thoughts about men opting out of pregnancy, blue milk posted, “On the idea that men should be able to ‘opt out’of parenthood“:
Men can ‘opt out’ already. Don’t have sex with women, get a vasectomy, take lots and lots of responsibility for contraception. Oh.. you mean not that kind of “control over reproductive choices”.
Cristy Clark wrote about Catherine Deveny’s article at Overland, “Deveny’s ‘financial abortion’ is a form of coercive control“:
But if ‘pro-life’ campaigners were genuinely concerned with the preservation of life, they would do more than fight to deny women access to abortion. They would spend their time actively working to create an environment in which women are genuinely supported to carry their pregnancies to term. Instead, these anti-choice campaigners are the exact same people who lobby for legal and economic policies that create poverty and ongoing systematic disadvantage for mothers (particularly in terms of workplace and public life participation).
So what does motivate anti-choice activists? The available evidence seems to indicate they are more concerned with controlling women and undermining their bodily autonomy – a conclusion supported by their participation in denying basic human rights to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Examples of this include the widespread denial of birth rights (such as free and informed consent prior to invasive medical procedures) and the pervasive shaming and exclusion of breastfeeding women from public spaces.
Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Positive: A mother’s abortion story“:
My stomach drops. I haven’t even realised I am seven weeks late. I’ve been so busy with life; three kids, teaching full-time, studying for a Masters part-time, being a wife, a volunteer, a woman. When was my last period? Last month? The month before? I don’t even know.
My health history is a complicated one: three children, three emergency cesarean sections, two resuscitations and a nine-week premature baby.
I tell my husband the news. He’s devastated. “There’s no way we can do this, we just cant lose you,” he says. “Look at how sick you are! Look at you, this is happening all over again we just cant lose you!” His words stick in my mind for days. And so I finally get up the nerve to see a doctor.
Emily at Emily Writes, feels guilty about abandoning her blog given she’s been writing elsewhere. But she has some snippets for us, “Assorted tales from a stairway covered in shoes“:
Oh poor neglected blog. Now that I have abandoned you for a better, brighter, more scintillating and stimulating lover (The Spinoff Parents) I barely see you anymore.
I keep trying to come back to you but I don’t have much to say here. I have been noting things down, not particularly interesting, but they’re things I can assure you.
Race, racism and representation
Emmaline Matagi writes at Spinoff, “Representation matters: A mother talks about what Moana means to her and her daughter“:
As a mother to a six-year-old daughter of the Pacific I can honestly say that this film will stay with my child. She won’t ever forget it. Nor will I let her. Moana is a young brown girl, with long, thick black hair, thick brown lips, big brown eyes, thick black eyebrows and a love for the ocean and her family. I see my daughter in Moana. More importantly however, is that my daughter sees herself in Moana! Why is that important? Because never before in her short six years of life or my longer 30 years have we Pacific people ever been able to say we truly see ourselves as the hero of an animated movie – EVER. Moana represented her, her family, her people, her ocean and her story. The history of our ancestors (albeit a tiny glimpse into our amazing history) is our history nonetheless and it’s on the big screen now. My children, like many others, adore Disney movies. They love watching the animation, love the stories, and they love getting dressed up like the characters and pretending they are in those fantasy worlds. Moana is different for them. This time they got to see themselves and they don’t have to dress up, they don’t have to pretend they are in a fantasy world, this is their world.
Stephanie at No Award is attempting to justify buying a book. I also need to justify buying this book because it aligns with my research interests, “book review: asia on tour: exploring the rise of Asian tourism“:
This is an academic book; however it’s very accessible. Even the chapters that include ethnographic studies and academic definitions are lacking in dense language. Published in 2009 it’s a little old, but as an introduction to talking about Asian tourism in Asia, and post-colonial travel regionally, it’s a great one. It’s also a good introduction to tourism studies in general, if that’s a thing you’ve been vaguely interested in but never tackled before.
Violence *All posts in this section contain trigger warnings for violence*
Rosie Dalton writes about the concerning study which showed that women were more likely to tolerate stalking like behaviour after watching rom-coms, “New Study Shows Rom Coms Make Us More Tolerant of ‘Stalking Myths’“:
Only in the land of romantic comedies are stalking narratives somehow portrayed as less dangerous than they actually are. Take There’s Something About Mary, for example, where the creepiness of Ben Stiller hiring a private detective to track down his high school crush is somehow glossed over. These kinds of subtle narratives in rom coms can have real world impacts though, as a new study by gender and sexuality expert Julia R Lippman, of the University of Michigan has found. According to The Guardian, Lippman’s report I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You found that rom coms featuring men engaging in stalker-like behaviour can make women more likely to tolerate obsessiveness from prospective romantic partners.
Vera Mackie explores women’s experiences of militarised sexual abuse during the Asia-Pacific War, and the survivors’ campaign for acknowledgement by the Japanese government, “The Grandmother and the Girl“.
Lisa Durnian examines patricide prosecutions where children killed their mothers’ abusers, demonstrating how it is not just the immediate victims of violence who suffer in abusive household, ““Mum will be safe now”: Prosecuting children who kill violent men“.
Dianne Hall discusses how gendered familial roles in early modern Europe institutionalised family violence and influenced its treatment in the courts, “Domestic violence has a history: Early modern family violence“.
Joanne McEwan delves into legal responses to wife beating in eighteenth-century England, and its resonance with contemporary discourses, “The legacy of eighteenth-century wife beating“.
Jane Freeland looks at the spirit of survival women demonstrated in the face of domestic violence at other women’s shelters – this time in Cold War Germany, “Writing their stories: Women’s survivorship and the history of domestic abuse in divided Germany“.
Mary Tomsic explores cinematic representations of physical and sexual violence against women in We Aim to Please, a 1970s Australian feminist film, “We Aim to Please: Cinematic activism, sex and violence“.
Lisa Featherstone reveals the controversies that dogged the campaign to criminalise marital rape in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s, “Rape in marriage: Why was it so hard to criminalise sexual violence?“.
Senthorun Raj discusses how pop culture stereotypes about homosexuality enable bureaucratic violence towards refugees, “Are you really gay enough to be a refugee?“:
What do Madonna, Oscar Wilde, Greco-Roman wrestling, clubbing at Stonewall, and having a lot of sex have in common? Not much really, other than the fact that Australian refugee decisions are saturated with these stereotypes – stereotypes that have been used to determine whether a person is “genuinely” gay and subject to a “well-founded fear of persecution.” As a gay man who some politicians would class as “elite” because I live in the inner city suburb of Sydney and prefer investing in books than mortgages, I could tell you very little about Oscar Wilde’s literary contributions. Yet, for same-sex attracted refugees, the demand to prove “gay identity” is no joke. The bureaucratic violence perpetrated against queers who seek refuge leaves more to be desired.
Jessica Hammond writes, “Runner’s Guide to Rape Culture” where she rightly picks apart an author’s “safety tips” on how women can avoid being assaulted while running.