'I'm still alive in December!': A retrospective on a crazy semester

Haven't updated this since September. Feel like the last day of work for 2016 is an opportune time to do a short-run reflection on what I think has been the craziest semester of my PhD candidature/life:

1. UK WAS A GOOD TIME

So, I was in Lisbon back in September. That was an amazing time - after a slow, jet-lagged start, the conference was invigorating, and I managed to get a good dose of Lisbon's vibrancy and verve.

I then flew to London. Got sick on the plane, and copped a hot coffee shower from a fellow passenger during the descent. Damn. This was as bad as it got, thankfully - I spent a week in London and managed to get some good work done at the George Padmore Institute, SOAS, and the Black Cultural Archives.

Black Cultural Archives, Brixton

Black Cultural Archives, Brixton

I'm still ambivalent about London itself. A week is certainly not enough to make a judgement. I did especially love Brixton - a diverse suburb (borough?) with a strong history of struggle against racism. Speaking of racism, though, I went to a Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge (vs. Liverpool - we lost 2-1) and, although the atmosphere was incredible, some of the fans did little to dispel the perception that they're more partial to racist behaviour than most. A white man threw a can at a woman in a hijab, and security did nothing about it. Unbelievable.

Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge

After London, I travelled to Birmingham to research for a couple of days at Stuart Hall's old haunt - the University of Birmingham - and sifted through the archive of the famous Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. After that, Manchester. There, I spent three days at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, in the incredible Central Library.

Central Library, Manchester

Central Library, Manchester

Overall, the UK part of the trip was a really valuable experience. It was brilliant to meet some researchers who I really look up to and respect - in particular, Robbie Shilliam, Adam Elliot-Cooper, and Ian Bruff. It was also obviously exhilarating to explore a part of the world I'd never seen. However, exploring wasn't really the priority - research was. And it was hard going - archival research is a lot more taxing than I thought, especially when you have a relatively broad and diffuse research focus. Lesson for future Cam: strictly delimit your archival research both temporally and topically!

2. DID A FEW CONFERENCES

The day after I returned from Europe (25 September), I presented a paper on a panel I'd convened (The international political economy of Islamophobia) at the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) conference at UNSW, Sydney. Presenting with vicious jet-lag feels like what I'd imagine presenting would feel like after more than a few pints. More recently (end of November - early December), I presented papers at the Historical Materialism conference at USyd, and at the Australian Sociological Association (TASA) conference at ACU in Melbourne. The first two papers are available on my Works page or on my Academia page, the last is not available yet as I'm currently editing it for publication in 2017. All conferences were valuable in working through some different aspects of the arguments in my thesis, and the comments/feedback received will no doubt sharpen these arguments.

3. HAD A FEW PIECES PUBLISHED

Though I'm still working on that magical first 'peer-reviewed' publication, I was fortunate to be involved in a few enjoyable (even innovative) publishing opportunities. My review of David Theo Goldberg's Sites of Race was published in Transnational Literatures. I contributed to the Past & Present reading group's collective review of Jason W. Moore's Capitalism in the Web of Life. Finally, an interview I did with my friend Alex Wilson (sleepmakeswaves/Cartography Studios) was published over at Life Is Noise.

4. SPENT TOO MUCH TIME TEACHING

Possibly the most challenging part of the semester was the teaching load I took on. I taught two subjects at two different universities - a Masters-level subject on International Political Economy at MQ, and a first-year subject called Working With Cultural Differences at Western Sydney University. Despite the amount of time I had to dedicate to them, both subjects had content that spoke directly to my research - broader global structures of inequality in the former, the day-to-day dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality in the latter. This made them very enjoyable and valuable subjects to teach. Thankfully, in the times I found the marking load too much, both convenors were exceedingly patient, encouraging, and generous.

WHAT NEXT?

Soon (March 2017) I'll move into the third and final year of my candidature. So, next year I'll be winding the conference attendance/teaching load thing right back and focusing all my energies on writing this thesis up. It's going to be hard work, but I'm psyched to put everything into it.

'Til then, I'm retiring to my hometown on the South Coast, before hitting up NZ in January. If you're still reading this lengthy post, you're probably a friend, family member, or colleague. Thank you for your support - whether giving me feedback, encouragement, or even just sympathetically listening to me go on and on and on about how busy and tired I've been!

Very keen to do a bit more of the below. My best to all for Christmas and the New Year.

Federal Falls, Orange, NSW

Federal Falls, Orange, NSW

 

 

Obrigado, Lisbon!

Lisbon is an absolutely brilliant place. In the very short time I spent there - five days - I feel like I got to learn a lot about its rich history of struggle - against the monarchy, fascism, authoritarianism and colonialism, and currently neoliberalism. I was lucky enough to have a host that received me as if I was an old friend, and took great delight in showing me around the city and introducing me to its cultural life. I saw DJs, a living art/theatre installation in an army barracks, sat in the middle of a massive, ambient guitar circle with a blindfold on. With some new friends made at the IIPPE conference, I feasted on typical Portuguese foods and drank homemade moonshine with the restaurant's owner, and briefly ventured through beautiful Sintra. Good times.

Satisfied scholars post-sardines and moonshine at Lisboa Tu e Eu, Alfama

Satisfied scholars post-sardines and moonshine at Lisboa Tu e Eu, Alfama

The conference itself was excellent. I was privileged enough to present my paper - 'Neoliberalism, Race, and Authoritarianism post-9/11' - alongside Matthew Ryan (University of Sydney) and Alfredo Saad Filho (SOAS). I received some challenging (and encouraging) comments and feedback, which I'll be sure to engage with going forward.

Getting all meta in Alfama's alleyways with Matthew Ryan

Getting all meta in Alfama's alleyways with Matthew Ryan

Some other highlights of the conference included:

  • Vera Weghmann's (Nottingham University) paper on the disciplinary mechanisms of 'employability' practices within education and training;
  • Lorenzo Pellegrini's (ISS) paper on Indigenous resistance against extraction and environmental injustice in the Northern Peruvian Amazon;
  • Diane Elson's (University of Essex) keynote address on the political economy of gender inequality;
  • Paul Cammack (University of Manchester), Alex Nunn (Leeds Beckett University), and Sophia Price's (Leeds Beckett University) papers on contemporary forms of social reproduction under global capitalism.

I'm very fortunate to have been able to take part in the IIPPE Conference, and to have spent time in lovely Lisbon. Now, I'm in London completing archival research at SOAS, the George Padmore Institute, and the Black Cultural Archives, after which I'll head to Birmingham and Manchester.

The view from Museu do Aljube - an infamous political prison under the fascist regime which was converted into a museum. Incredible place.

The view from Museu do Aljube - an infamous political prison under the fascist regime which was converted into a museum. Incredible place.

Heading overseas!

Last post, I alluded to a 'possible research trip overseas'. Today, I'm sitting at Sydney International Airport waiting to board the first flight of a trip that will eventually take me through Lisbon, Portugal, and London, Birmingham, and Manchester, U.K.

Suffice to say that it has been a long and arduous process securing funding for this trip, and there have been multiple stumbling blocks to negotiate. With the support of departmental staff, supervisors, and of course my family and friends, these have all been successfully negotiated. I am equal parts grateful and relieved that all the hard work will bear fruit.

On the first leg of my trip - in Lisbon - I'll be presenting a paper titled 'Neoliberalism, Race, and Authoritarianism post-9/11' at the International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy (IIPPE) conference. I'm really excited about this conference, as it will involve many broadly working from a critical perspective within political economy. This, to get colloquial, is my jam.

On the second leg - London, Birmingham, and Manchester - I'll be conducting archival research in a number of locations, including the George Padmore Institute, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, the London Metropolitan Archive, and the School of Oriental and African Studies. I'll be focusing on the work of Stuart Hall, particularly on his books 'Policing the Crisis' and 'The Hard Road to Renewal', along with race relations, policing and antiterrorism in the U.K. under neoliberalism.

I'll be updating this page regularly throughout my travels, and will upload a version of the conference paper after I present it on September 9. For now, I've got a plane to catch!

Panel update, and a new paper

Amidst finishing up marking, moving house, and preparing for next week's OCIS Conference in Brisbane, I have some time spare to share some news:

1. The panel proposal that I wrote about in a previous post ('The international political economy of Islamophobia') has been accepted as part of the program for the Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW on September 26-28 2016. Very excited and humbled to have the opportunity to present alongside some brilliant scholars - Dr. Noah Bassil (Macquarie), Amira Aftab (Macquarie), and Dr. Yassir Morsi (RMIT).

2. I presented a paper at the annual Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations HDR (Higher Degree Research) conference last Friday, June 24. In short, it's a concise-ish summation of my overall research program, and of the arguments I'm making in my thesis. You can read/download it here.

More (possibly including an overseas research trip) to come.

The international political economy of Islamophobia

Below is a panel proposal that myself and my doctoral supervisor (Dr. Noah Bassil) have been working on for the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference. The proposal is a pretty concise summation of a part of my broader research agenda - to interrogate the question of what functions state racism (esp. Islamophobia) serve in the broader context of the globalisation of capitalism.

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Another troubling week in 'postracial' Australia

Sportspeople donning blackface, Paul Sheehan spouting not-so-subtle Islamophobia, Chris Uhlmann utilising anti-Semitic tropes in his clumsy 'takedown' of the Frankfurt School. A typical week in a society that, despite imagining itself as postracial, continuously throws up reminders that it is far from it.

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Aijaz Ahmad: from 'Islam' to 'Islamisms'

I've become increasingly frustrated in recent years with how we, in the 'West', have responded to the spectre of Islamic extremism. I feel that we talk too much about 'Islam' as a totality - a body of religious belief that is thought to form the basis of all terrorist attacks (only if they're carried out by brown people) - instead of doing the hard work of interrogating the historical, political and societal conditions that have helped produce them.

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Alana Lentin on 'racism in public or public racism'

In ‘Racism in Public or Public Racism’, Alana Lentin articulates a number of innovative concepts that are crucial in understanding what work race accomplishes in contemporary Australian (and, more broadly, Western) society: particularly the concepts of postracialism, ‘racism in public’ versus ‘public racism’, and racisms as simultaneously ‘frozen’ and ‘motile’.

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