Australia’s past and present are closely connected to the sea: In coastal regions, maritime areas are an integral part of Country and thus play a vital role for Aboriginal communities. The sea also looms large in Australian cultural memory and imagination in general, as a passageway and connection to other parts of world with images oscillating between fear (migration) and longing (postcolonial melancholia). In addition, it is an important economic factor as the maritime industry, from gas and oil extraction to cruise shipping, currently generates 9 billion AUD of the Australian GDP. As a destination for domestic and international tourism (surfing), the seaside and the Australian maritime world (Great Barrier Reef) plays an important role in creating a sense of identity as well as selling Australia as a ‘brand’ to global consumerism. From this multitude of relations, a multiplicity of seascapes emerges – spaces of knowing, of contact, of negotiation and transition, and of movement (of ideas, goods or people).
The 2020 conference of the Gesellschaft für Australienstudien|Association for Australian Studies will chart the multiplicity of Australian seascapes. Following the work of Greg Dening (Beach Crossings), Epeli Hau’ofa (We are the Ocean), and Karin Amimoto Ingersoll (Waves of Knowing), we consider seascapes as socially constructed spaces, constituted by connections, exchanges and entanglements rather than by boundaries or by a separating void. Seascapes demonstrate Australia’s deep connection to Oceania, the Pacific region and the world. However, in the face of climate change and rising sea levels, many of these connections are becoming tenuous.
The conference will discuss Australian seascapes in an interdisciplinary perspective, including (but not restricted to) contributions from the field of Cultural Studies (literature, performing arts, film, visual arts), History, Political Science, Anthropology, and Geography. Accordingly, we invite papers and panel proposals from all academic fields to engage in topics that include one or several of the multiple dimensions of Australian Seascapes:
- Aboriginal knowledges and practices
- temporalities and geographies
- movement and fluidity
- connectivity and entanglement
- politics, policies, and economy
- memory and history
- corporealities and bodily experiences
- oceanic landscapes and maritime biodiversity
- roles of human and non-human actors, their relationship and interconnectedness
- representations and imaginations of the sea and of seascapes literature, poetry, drama, the performative or visual arts or any other artistic form of expression
We aim to include a special “teachers’ stream” into the program. Proposals for individual papers or panels reflecting on methods how to present the conference’s topic to students (of all ages), are particularly welcome!
The conference will be hosted by Trier University and organized by PD Dr. Eva Bischoff, Department of International History.
Please send paper and panel proposals (20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion per paper) in English or German (200-300 words per paper) by 31 March 2020. We particularly encourage undergraduate and graduate students to submit proposals for work in progress presentations in our new format “Forthcoming”.
PD Dr Eva Bischoff