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The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.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 2011, 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.


Dr Martin Crotty: 'Veterans Compared: Returned Soldiers in Australia and the Soviet Union', 8 March 2011

This seminar compares and contrasts the experiences of returned soldiers following the two world wars in the radically different societies of Australia and the Soviet Union. It uses these case studies to suggest a range of factors that heavily influence how successfully returned soldiers are able to claim benefits from the state following demobilisation. Australian and Soviet veterans of wars of the first half of the twentieth century fought in markedly different campaigns and returned to radically different societies. They sought broadly similar benefits from the state after their return to civil life, but Australian veterans were much more successful in being recognised as a legitimate entitlement group and in having their claims accepted. Australian veterans thus became a status group and enjoyed benefits not available to other Australian citizens; Soviet veterans, with rare exceptions, did not.

The Soviet and Australian cases suggest, in contradistinction to arguments advanced by Marxist historians such as Antoine Prost, that veterans of the total war experience attempt to organize and claim benefits from the state regardless of postwar circumstances; even to the extent of seeking benefits from entirely new state structures. The circumstances of mass armies and total wars led naturally to postwar claims for compensation and reward. The force with which such claims could be pressed, however, and the sympathy with which postwar governments greeted them, were highly conditional. This paper  suggests a range of factors which shaped how successfully veterans were able to press their claims. The distinctiveness of the soldiers’ wartime experiences, the varying structural relations between the state and its citizens and the surrounding context of state finance and welfare traditions may not have been determinative, but they were highly influential.

Introduction: Professor Graeme Turner [2.0 mb]
Seminar Part One [10.3 mb]
Seminar Part Two [10.1 mb]
Seminar Part Three [8.6 mb]
Seminar Part Four [9.8 mb]


Associate Professor Ramaswami Harindranath: 'Transnational India: Global Circuits of Indian Popular Culture', 3 May 2011

Following on from the international popularity of international co-productions such as Slumdog Millionaire, ‘Indian-ness’ has gained global currency and visibility. This seminar will  examine the significance of the emergence of a relatively novel form of transnational cultural industry – Indian musicals – driven by artistes, producers, and promoters forming alliances that transcend national boundaries.


Professor Robert Foster: 'Installation Design and the Exhibition of Oceanic Things: Two New York Museums in the 1940s', 24 May 2011

This seminar documents some of the experimentation in museum installation designs for the exhibition of non-Western objects during the 1930s and 1940s. This is a period in which ethnographic artifacts were being displayed as artworks in natural history museums, and in which the exhibition of such objects in art museums drew on techniques characteristic of not only natural history museums, but also of commercial urban window displays (which were themselves enjoying a period of dazzling exuberance). The seminar responds to the provocation of Alfred Gell’s influential writings on art and agency, specifically, his conception of art as entrapment and enchantment—his claim that artworks captivate, and thus exert a kind of (secondary) agency on people (patients).


Professor Heather Horst: 'Technology, Youth and the Incorporation of Everyday Life in Silicon Valley', 7 June 2011

This talk examines how ways in which technological innovation, and the corporate capitalism underpinning its’ production, come to dominate the everyday domestic life of youth in Silicon Valley. 

Seminar Part One [9.2 mb]
Seminar Part Two [12.1 mb]
Seminar Part Three [11.6 mb]


Dr Simon Perry: 'Pessimism Intoned: Music and History in Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov', 9 August 2011

Boris Godunov (1872) is the sole completed opera by the nineteenth-century Russian composer, Modest Musorgsky (best known for his suit of piano pieces Pictures at an Exhibition). In Boris Godunov Musorgsky set himself a task that few, if any, composers had previously attempted: to make opera a vehicle for the serious exploration of historical ideas. His subject was the Muscovite succession crisis of the early 17th century, dramatised in the 1820s by Alexander Pushkin. In this he found an opportunity to give voice to his own conception of the shaping forces of history. In addition to Puskin’s play, Musorgsky was influenced by Nikolai Karamzin’s account of the “Time of Troubles,” in his History of the Russian State (1816-26). Karamzin’s emphasis on the attributes of individuals in power is reflected strongly in the tight psychological lens Musorgsky aimed at the title character, especially in his first version (1869) of the opera. While this aspect is retained in the second version (1872) Musorgsky now broadened his canvas considerably, probably under the influence of his contemporary, the historian Nikolai Kostomarov, whose conception reflected typically Romantic concerns with “the spirit of the people.” In the final analysis, Musorgsky went further still, and developed a conception, almost certainly influenced by Dostoyevsky, in which historical events are determined neither by attributes of the rulers or the ruled, but by something inherently blind and chaotic. 
In this seminar, Dr Perry considers Musorgsky’s development of a distinctive approach to the musical characterisation of this historical conceptualisation. The consistency and integrity with which the linkage of extra-musical imperatives and musical structure is achieved has only one near rival in the nineteenth-century repertoire: the later works of Wagner. The theory which underpins this understanding is new, and was refined during my tenure as an Arts Faculty Fellow in 2009. This presentation will distil the essential details of this research and present its findings in a way not dependent on musical-theoretical background. 

Seminar Part One [10.9 mb]
Seminar Part Two [10.8 mb]
Seminar Part Three [10.8 mb]
Seminar Part Four [10.2 mb]


Dr James Bennett: 'That’s what the Internet is for: Telly! The BBC’s Multiplatform Strategy, the Independent Sector and the Future of Public Service Broadcasting', 13 September 2011

Since 2006 the BBC has trumpeted a multiplatform strategy that, as Mark Thompson the BBC’s Director General set out, promised the Corporation would ‘think cross-platform: in our commissioning, our making, our distribution’. The fanfare that accompanied this policy, set out in Creative Future (2006), led the independent television production sector to make significant investments in digital production. At the same time, this policy ushered in a host of new players – digital agencies – into public service multiplatform production. Yet, 5 years later, Thompson’s promise has echoed hollow with only the last of those promises – distribution – being prioritised. The BBC, it appears, has come to understand the Internet as solely for the distribution of telly. Based on interviews with over 40 producers at the BBC and the independent production sector, this paper tells the story of how this change in direction occurred, its impact on the Indie sector and the potential implications for the future of public service broadcasting.  


Professor Jim McKay: 'A Critique of the Militarisation of Australian Culture Thesis: The Case of Anzac Battlefield Tourist', 11 October 2011

The seminar deals with debates about the alleged militarisation of Australian culture in the context of the centennial of the Gallipoli Landing in 2015.Between 2014 and 2018 the Australian Government will commemorate the Anzac Centenary with the highlight undoubtedly being the Dawn Service at Gallipoli on Anzac Day in 2015 to observe the centennial of the Gallipoli Landing. One journalist has predicted that this event probably will be “the largest peacetime gathering of Australians outside of Australia”. Thus the Landing is a propitious opportunity to analyse the interplay between battlefield tourism and nationalism. Prof McKay will argue that in order to investigate the making, mediation and effects of this landmark event,  researchers will need to use a pluralistic epistemological framework.  There are three aspects to Prof McKay's argument. First, he will demonstrate some fundamental ontological and epistemological weaknesses of the recent militarisation thesis of Anzac. Second, he contends that media coverage of young Australian tourists at Gallipoli has been constructed as a “moral panic”. Finally, he will offer a multilateral epistemological perspective on Anzac battlefield tourism by employing Stuart Hall’s concept of “deconstructing the popular”, referring to empirical research in the field of tourism studies and providing examples of high school students from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey who have deconstructed Anzac myths by engaging directly with battlefield history and tourism.


Associate Professor Katharine Gelber: 'Speech Matters: Free Speech in Australia', 1 November 2011

In Speech Matters, Gelber shows why many of Australia’s laws and policies, supported by the wider public, are actually harmful to democratic participation in politics. A council officer shuts down a Sydney art exhibition that sends a political message about the Iraq war; Big Day Out organisers are attacked for asking attendees not to wear the Australian flag after the Cronulla riots. Gelber investigates a wide range of political expression to see how we value free speech: from different uses of the national flag, hate speech and anti-terrorism laws, to protest campaigns against corporate actions and art. Gelber considers the laws and policies that regulate behaviour alongside the views of everyday Australians about these issues. What Gelber finds is a political culture that is failing free speech. In Australia, powerful companies can silence dissent, and even peaceful protest can be difficult to carry out. Speech Matters tackles these controversial issues head-on, providing compelling reasons for why we should protect the types of speech that give everyone a voice in deciding how our country is run.

Speech Matters is the title of Associate Professor Gelber's most recently published book (with UQP) reporting on the results of a large-scale research project into the place of freedom of speech within Australian political culture. The book argues that despite Australians’ professed support for freedom of speech generally, this support fractures when specific and difficult examples of speech are considered.

Introduction: Professor Gay Hawkins [2.1 mb]
Seminar Part One [9.5 mb]
Seminar Part Two [9.9 mb]
Seminar Part Three [11.0 mb]
Seminar Part Four [9.8 mb]

2011 Public Seminars section

Material Culture Seminar Series 2011

This seminar series highlighted UQ scholarship on material culture, drawing from diverse disciplinary perspectives