The Centre for Critical Studies was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Below is an archive of CCCS Public Seminars delivered in 2007, along with their original abstracts. Audio files are provided for seminars that were recorded. For further information on any of these seminars, please contact CCCS Admin.


Professor Steve Fuller: 'Can you train to be an intellectual - and is the university the place to do it?', 27 February 2007

The seminar will consider the obvious strengths but also the less obvious weakness of the university as a site for intellectual life, especially given the rise of the audit culture in academia and the media culture in society more generally. The seminar will draw on Fuller’s book, ‘The Intellectual’ (Icon 2005), which aspires to be a sophisticated ‘how to’ book, modelled on Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, as well as his own experiences bridging the gap between the worlds of the academic and the intellectual.

Introduction: Professor Fred D'Agostino [1.6 mb]
Seminar Part One [7.7 mb]
Seminar Part Two [5.8 mb]
Seminar Part Three [8.7 mb]


Professor Graeme Turner: 'The Cosmopolitan City and its Other: The Ethnicising of the Australian suburb', 6 March 2007

This seminar is part of a continuing project focused on examining the politics of multiculturalism in Australia since September 11. Professor Turner will argue that there has been a significant cultural change in the meanings attached to two specific sites in the Australian cultural imaginary—the city and the suburb—and that this change is the product of opposing versions of multicultural Australia. While the combination of multiculturalism and economic globalization has helped to create an increasingly cosmopolitan version of the inner city suburb, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

It has also participated in the development of an antithetical but perhaps more politically significant version of the middle or outer suburb: one that is often defined by minority ethnic or racial identities; that is increasingly represented as criminalized; and that runs against the grain of the traditional conception of the suburb in the Australian national imaginary, as well as the globalizing rhetoric endorsing a cosmopolitanising transnational citizenship.

Introduction: Professor Peter Cryle [0.9 mb]
Seminar Part One [4.7 mb]
Seminar Part Two [6.1 mb]
Seminar Part Three [6.0 mb]


Dr Andrew Gentes: 'Children and the Tsarist Siberian Exile System', 3 April 2007

Over a million people were exiled to Siberia during the hundred years ending in 1917, with children accounting for 25 percent of them. Conditions in Siberia's labour camps and settlements were terrible, of course, but were especially severe for children, what with their proximity to violent criminals and the absence of hospitals, schools, and other services. By subjecting innocent children to this predatory penal environment the tsarist government, which traditionally portrayed itself as a paternalistic authority, visibly abrogated its parental responsibilities. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as opposition to the regime grew, this abrogation became grist for the mill of those who considered the anachronistic government something better left behind. Interestingly, however, the government went even further along the road to oblivion, by allowing a surprising number of political exiles to work as teachers because of the absence of qualified educators in Siberia. A bizarre situation emerged in which Bolsheviks and others radicals worked to turn the exile system into a “school for revolution.” The extent to which they were successful is a question not only significant to a better understanding of the Bolshevik revolution, but one that offers a different perspective on reformatories, prisons, propaganda, and educational curricula in the present tense. Materials for this presentation include government documents and other sources found in Siberian archives, as well as published memoirs and historical studies.

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [1.2 mb]
Seminar Part One [7.9 mb]
Seminar Part Two [7.1 mb]
Seminar Part Three [6.7 mb]
Seminar Part Four [8.8 mb]


Dr Tom Stevenson: 'Patria Potestas and the Cultural Image of the Father at Rome', 5 June 2007

The evidence for paternal legal power (patria potestas) at Rome seems to indicate that a paterfamilias (i.e. a father in possession of patria potestas) had absolute control over his dependants in all matters gubernatorial, economic and sacral. This highly developed picture of patriarchal control has been interpreted, partly following Roman ideas, as a legacy from primitive days which caused various social and other tensions in the more civilized times of the late Republic and early Empire. The legacy was supposedly maintained out of respect for ancestral tradition (mos maiorum). More recent scholarship has questioned this interpretation. Textual scholars have emphasized, for instance, that the Romans used terms for ‘father’ and ‘family’, such as paterfamilias and familia, in far more limited and specialized senses than have previously been understood. Scholars drawing on sociological insights, assisted by anthropologists and demographers, have argued powerfully that few Roman males in their twenties would have had natural fathers still living. In short, the idea of extensive and oppressive paternal domination is thought to have been overplayed; the normal social reality was marked by love and duty (pietas). Indeed, it is now generally thought that the absolute control indicated by the legal texts was really a matter of maintaining paternal control over property as a way of ensuring care for parents in their old age. The aim of this seminar is to argue that this process of reassessment should not be taken too far and that unique tensions, deriving from cultural and political developments, did surround the father-son relationship at Rome in the period designated.


Dr Zala Volčič: 'Yugo-nostalgia: Cultural Memory and Media in the Former Yugoslavia', 7 August 2007
This presentation will take as its core concern the ways in which the media and other cultural practices are presently being mobilized in former Yugoslav communities in an attempt to re-create a shared cultural memory. What we witness during and after the nationalistic wars in the former Yugoslav republics is the nostalgic re-appropriation of Yugoslav symbols, rituals, and products. Discourses of nostalgia for the former Yugoslavia circulate in a variety of media texts and practices in now all six independent nation-states: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Thus, at the same time that the knowledge of the atrocities committed during the former Yugoslav wars was being made available to the public, the nostalgia for the clichés of Yugoslav culture was on the rise.
The presentation will map different nostalgic practices in former Yugoslavia, while exploring the layers of Yugoslav nostalgia that has produced various and diverse media events, new spaces, identities, memories, material products, and complex mediated representations, such as, for example, the Josip Broz Tito memorial webpage ( in Slovenia, the creation of a ‘new, old’ country called Yugoslav Yugoland in Subotica, Serbia, or a ‘really real’ Yugoslav reality TV show “To sam ja” in Skopje, Macedonia.
Yugo-nostalgia, Dr Volčič suggests, provides a window onto the cultural arena created by the intersection of socialist memories of the Yugoslav past with nationalist claims to sovereignty, the embracement of a new commercial communication global order, and the international culture industries in which culture becomes both a commodity and a source of national pride. Dr Volčič will attempt to show how Yugo-nostalgia, paradoxically hearkens back to a shared cultural history even as it provides the raw material for new forms of national identities.

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [0.9 mb]
Seminar Part One [5.8 mb]
Seminar Part Two [5.1 mb]
Seminar Part Three [6.3 mb]
Seminar Part Four [5.4 mb]


Dr Adrian Mabbott Athique: 'The Rise of the Multiplex Cinema in India', 4 September 2007
The appearance of multiplex cinemas in India since 1997 has been indicative of a consistent, if not always coherent, push to create a globalised ‘consuming class’ in metropolitan India. Multiplex cinemas, like their single screen predecessors, are therefore key sites in the long-running struggle over rights to public space in Indian cities, and an intrinsic part of the urban transformations that are accompanying economic liberalisation. The rise of the multiplex is also closely related to the re-organisation of working practices and of capital investment within the film exhibition sector. The aggregation of interests within what has traditionally been a highly fragmented industry with largely informal organisation is a result of both the entry of outside concerns into the theatrical market and of operational change within the industry itself as leading players pursue an agenda of ‘corporatisation’. It is these new corporate entities, funded by institutional investors and public floatation, that dominate the multiplex sector, which stands in marked contrast to the loose agglomeration of family owned theatres that have previously characterised theatrical exhibition in India. As the leading multiplex brands embark upon a massive programme of expansion into India’s second tier cities, this presentation provides a critical account of the emerging political economy of the multiplex paradigm.
Seminar Part One [5.4 mb]
Seminar Part Two [3.8 mb]
Seminar Part Three [3.8 mb]
Seminar Part Four [5.6 mb]


Professor Koichi Iwabuchi: 'Culture and National Border Administration in the 21st Century Japan', 12 September 2007

The context for this paper is the increase over the last decade in the flow of people and media across international borders, and the countervailing strategies used by national governments to interrupt this flow. Focusing on contemporary Japan, Koichi  examines the recent history of Japans administration of its national and cultural borders. By looking at apparently opposing vectors of cross-border administration - one dealing with incoming ethno-flows and the other of out-going media cultural flows, he will discuss how these competing influences are mutually constitutive in Japans re-imagining of its national cultural integrity.


Professor Richard Peterson: 'The Changing Structure of the Popular Music Industry', 27 September 2007

In this seminar Professor Peterson will discuss the international popular music industry  and how it is undergoing rapid change. The advent of digital production, processing, distribution and consumption has destabilized the old balance of power between big companies and independent music producers. The changes are not only due to new technologies but to changes in the laws of intellectual property and other aspects of the legal structure, the new more decentralized way the industry is structured, the way markets are formed, and in the way creative people make careers in the industry.  

 In the late 1990s there seemed to be a chance that the digital production of music would “democratize” recorded music production and distribution, and the multi-national corporations, like dinosaurs, might simply disappear. But now a rather different picture seems to be emerging.  In this seminar Professor Peterson will suggest that the monolithic-seeming music industry is coming in practice to operate with three distinctly different business models with quite different creative cultures. The first part consists of the highly capitalized multinational record companies and their associated satellites who will continue to control the mass market for recorded music. The second includes a goodly number of moderately-capitalized genre-dedicated independent companies, catering to distinct niche markets. And the third involves a huge number of undercapitalized self-recording artists and aggregations who largely self-produce and self-finance their own works. Increasingly their promotion and sales is organized by internet-based peer-driven organizations such as YouTube and CD Baby.

Introduction: Dr Melissa Gregg [0.9 mb]
Seminar Part One [3.5 mb]
Seminar Part Two [3.9 mb]
Seminar Part Three [5.9 mb]
Seminar Part Four[4.6 mb]


Dr Kitty van Vuuren: 'The Role of the Local Press in Reporting the Water Crisis', 9 October 2007

Most Australians have personally felt the impact of the recent drought, considered the worst on record. Faced with diminishing water supplies local governments are introducing ever-tighter water restrictions, and water management issues are a top priority for most governments. Water is expected to be a ‘crucial’ federal election issue in 2007. While there is consensus over the view that Australia faces considerable environmental challenges, there is less agreement about the solutions that will produce long-term, sustainable water management practices. Most people receive their information and form their opinions through the media. The way the media communicate about the environment affects how we perceive both it and ourselves, and therefore our relationship with the natural world. This was illustrated most clearly with the Toowoomba plebiscite in 2006, when residents were asked to vote on the introduction of water recycling. The ‘no’ vote won, following a vigorous media campaign, which many consider to have been swamped by a lot of misinformation and irrational argument, fueling the so-called ‘yuk’ factor. Many attribute the direction of the vote to media bias. But such a view misses the point that to gain prominence in the public sphere an issue has to be cast in terms which resonate with existing and widely held cultural concepts, thus reflecting the broader social context. The nature of this relationship, however, remains unclear. In this seminar Dr Kitty van Vuuren presents some results and insights from her recent research looking at local and community media coverage of the water crisis, and the connection between city demographics and environmental values.


Associate Professor Mus Chairil Samani: 'Media Literacy: The Malaysian Experience', 5 November 2007

The phenomenal growth of the mass media and Internet in Malaysia has led to an information overload among all strata of Malaysian society. Various types of print, electronic and digital media are today made available and accessible to a wide spectrum of Malaysian. Media are not only constructed but they also construct reality. How well are the younger generation of Malaysian coping with the diverse and pervasive media, which are playing a dominant role in constructing reality? This is in essence the crux of a study on media literacy among Malaysian to understand how well they are coping with the onslaught of the various pervasive media. Preliminary data coming from the field indicate that Malaysians of diverse ethnic backgrounds differ tremendously in terms of media literacy skills. They lacked the critical competency skills to sieve through the enormous information overload.