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May 2017

Welcome to the Centre for 21st Century Humanities eNewsletter. This Newsletter will keep you updated and informed about our latest activities and achievements. 

Humanities startup to create ethical certification process for Indonesian tourism

A Humanities Startup Workshop run by the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, in conjunction with Slingshot, has assisted in the creation of an ethical consultancy business dedicated to empowering and supporting Asset Based Community Development in Indonesia to alleviate the detrimental effects of the tourism industry, namely water depletion and pollution and land rights.

Melissa McCabe founded Corethics Consultancy after attending the workshop in October 2016 where she pitched her idea for the ethical consultancy. Her idea was one of four to be awarded $5000 funding to help get the idea off the ground.

Workshop judge and Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, Associate Professor Ros Smith, said Melissa’s start up is a great example of how the humanities can make an impact on modern society for the better.

“We liked Melissa’s idea because we could see it being a viable commercial entity that will deliver real results to the communities of Indonesia. Her business brings together humanities knowledge with business ideas and the reach and leverage of digital tools and platforms,” Ros said.


Centre for 21st Century Humanities leads funding bid to develop ground breaking software platform

The University of Newcastle’s Centre for 21st Century Humanities (C21CH) is leading a bid for funding to build a powerful software platform called the ‘Time-Layered Cultural Map of Australia’ (TLCMap).

TLCMap will allow humanities researchers to search the data held in different Australian repositories by location and time and compile new data sets. They could then add their own data and visualise the combinations through a map and a time series chart. A module to detect place names and time references in official records, diaries, newspaper articles and books is also part of the plan.

C21CH is collaborating with the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, the University of Tasmania, and Edith Cowan University in their application for $483,000 funding for the TLCMap from the ARC Linkage, Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.

Director of the C21CH and Chief Investigator for the TLCMap project, Professor Hugh Craig, said Australian scholars and scholars of Australia worldwide are exceptionally well served with digital resources and tools to deepen the understanding of our country and its historical and cultural heritage, however there are barriers to use.

“Combining data from separate sources is difficult, integrating data and maps and is slow and expensive, and place and time data in texts like newspaper articles has to be manually geocoded and date-stamped to serve in maps and timelines. The planned TLCMap will provide tools, data and an umbrella infrastructure related to time and place, activating and drawing together existing high-quality resources in new and exciting ways,” Professor Craig said.

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Two-year project culminates in the creation of vital language resources for Vanuatu communities

Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the University of Newcastle's Endangered Languages Documentation, Theory and Application Research Program, Michael Franjieh, has just finished a two-year project examining one of the most endangered and undocumented languages in Vanuatu. During his work in the field Michael has been creating vital resources including dictionaries and storybooks to ensure the language lives on through the generations.

Funded by the UK-based Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP), Michael’s research focused on a small, undocumented language called Fanbyak.

“The literal meaning of Fanbyak is 'under the banyan’ and was the name of the original village where the language was spoken. There are only 130 speakers of this language and it is spoken in three different villages on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu,’ Michael said.

Michael has been focused on describing descriptions of different areas of the language’s grammar for use by other linguists interested in Oceanic languages and examined how migration and marriage affects intergenerational language transmission.

During his fieldwork in Vanuatu he has also been working with the community to ensure the language is maintained and passed down to younger generations.


Assoc Prof Ros Smith speaks at conference in Ireland

Associate Professor Ros Smith, Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities and Co-founder of the Early Modern Women Research Network (EMWRN), was recently invited to speak at the RECIRC Conference, Reception, Reputation and Circulation in the Early Modern World Conference held in Ireland.

Associate Professor Smith gave a talk entitled ‘Daughter of Debate’: Untangling the Poetic Reputation of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.

The conference is funded by the European Union and headed by Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan at the National University of Ireland Galway, who invited several early modern scholars from around the world to speak as keynote speakers.

“I was very flattered to be included among them,” Associate Professor Smith said.

“I spoke on reception, reputation and circulation in Mary Queen of Scots' poetry, drawing on work done for our EMWRN digital archive as part of the ARC DP-funded Material Cultures of Early Modern Women's Writing, 1550-1700, of which I was the Chief Investigator,” Smith said.

“Untangling the complex publication and attribution histories associated with Mary Stuart’s poetry, my talk explored the political and social work her autograph texts performed, as well as the ways in which the prosopopoeic texts circulated under her signature shaped her reputation and her political and religious objectives."

Prof Victoria Haskins gives a talk at UC on advocacy for Indian women in 1920s and 1930s

Professor Victoria Haskins, member of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities and Co-director of Purai Global Indigenous and Diaspora Research Studies Centre, recently gave a talk on her latest research into Native American women in the 1920-30s.

The talk, “‘The Indian maiden is not allowed to pine in loneliness’: Ruth Kellett Roberts and the Yurok Club, 1928-1934,” was part of a seminar series at ISSI’s Joseph A Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Haskins uncovered the story of Ruth Kellett Roberts while researching government records in America. Roberts assisted Indian women of the Yurok Tribe of Del Norte County on the Pacific northwest coast of California to find domestic employment in the Bay Area of San Francisco.

“We know in general that sending Indigenous women to work in domestic labour in others’ homes had a truly oppressive effect that generated alienation and a deep bitterness that continues to impact today,” Haskins said.

“However, the remarkable story of Ruth Kellett Roberts (1885-1967) and her advocacy for the Yurok Tribe provides a fascinating insight into relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in the 1920s and 1930s, a time of rapid social change,” Professor Haskins said.

“In my talk I reflected on the ambivalent and complex nature of Roberts’ advocacy for the Yurok people, an engagement that highlights broader questions around the political significance and impact of women’s work in the home, in the modern settler colonial nation,” Haskins said.

You can view Professor Haskins talk here.


Public lecture: The global turn in trauma studies

The Centre for the History of Violence and the School of Humanities and Social Science presents a free public lecture by internationally acclaimed historian of psychiatry, Professor Mark Micale, on the history of trauma and future directions in research on Thursday 1st June at 6pm in the Hunter Room, Newcastle City Hall.

Most well known for his acclaimed book on the history of male mental illness Hysterical Men (2007), as well as the editor of various collections on the history of trauma, Professor Micale’s latest research is concerned with the ‘global turn’ in conceptualisations of trauma, including the question of how much Western ideas of what constitutes traumatic experience can be applied to non-Western contexts.

This is a FREE public event but space is limited. Register now to secure your seat.


Three linguistics researchers awarded prestigious scholarships

Three Endangered Languages Documentation, Theory and Application (ELDTA) research program PhD students have won scholarships from the Australian Linguistics Society (ALS). The funding will be used to research and help maintain some of the world’s most endangered languages in Australia, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.

  • Glenn Windschuttel has been awarded $4,250 to work with the community to publish and distribute a bilingual collection of stories to encourage opportunity for the use of and interest in Kui, a Papuan language spoken on the island of Alor in eastern Indonesia.
  • Sabrina Meier has been awarded $3,100 which will support her ongoing research in the Mono-Alu language of the western Solomon Islands, focusing on word class flexibility and on grammatical alignment, two areas where this language has wider scientific significance.
  • Forrest Panther has been awarded $2,500 to support his attendance at the 2017 Linguistics Society of America Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, where he will receive specialist training that will be of significant benefit to his PhD research on the scientific implications of syllable structure in Kaytetye, an indigenous Australian language of the Northern Territory.

Director of the Endangered Languages Documentation, Theory and Application research program, and member of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, Dr Bill Palmer said it’s great to see so many University of Newcastle PhD students represented in 3 of the 4 scholarships offered by the ALS.

“The fact that 3 of the ALS’s 4 scholarships were awarded to UoN students is indicative of the standard of research that is happening within the ELDTA research program. Research into endangered languages has a real impact on the communities whom are in danger of losing their languages. The loss of a language also pre-empts a loss of culture, historical stories and a sense of cultural identity. As linguists we are working to preserve those important cultural elements along with the language,” Dr Palmer said.

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My year as a fairytale visits Parliament House

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities’ Helen Hopcroft, who is spending a year dressed as Marie Antoinette to promote Maitland as a creative city and tourist destination, recently sat for around 20 artists who drew her portrait, just as Marie Antoinette would have done in 18th century France. Helen’s costume also featured a train headpiece to highlight the Maitland's Steamfest, reflecting on Marie Antoinette’s own penchant for a hat with a sailing ship on it.

She also recently attended the Versailles conference at the National Gallery.

She says “It was extremely satisfying to walk into a room full of world class Versailles experts dressed as Marie Antoinette!”

Helen also toured Parliament House in full costume.