Australia, the oldest continental landmass on Earth, has had a relatively stable geographical history and, situated in the middle of a tectonic plate, it currently has no active volcanism. However the advent of colonisation led to massive upheavals in Australia’s extant cultures, history and environment. Prior to this, Indigenous peoples also dramatically impacted the environment.

Two hundred and thirty years later, these ruptures are being experienced more intensely than ever. Politics has seen the rise of populism; climate change is destabilising human and non-human populations; and discrimination remains entrenched despite feminism, social justice, and human rights movements and legislation. Technology has disrupted the traditional media landscape while creating new global networks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have survived enormous hardship and displacement, yet respond strategically to assert a national voice, to call for agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and to insist on truth-telling about history.

These timely issues create a sense of urgency, a need to make sense of and to react in intelligent and creative ways. While this is a time of great unsettlement, it is also an opportunity: as scholars, we have the capacity to interrogate, contextualise and disseminate innovative responses to these issues. The 2018 InASA conference, Unsettling Australia, seeks to create an environment in which ideas and answers can be articulated, discussed and debated. We welcome papers which address any of the eight streams below.

** Extended Abstract Deadline: 16 March 2018 **

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to the conference stream that best fits your proposed contribution to the 2018 InASA Conference. Use the “Submit” button in the relevant stream below to generate an email that will be directed to the relevant stream convenor.  General inquiries can be sent to inasa2018@uq.edu.au.

Please note the Call for Papers for InASA 2018 has closed.


Conference Streams 


Unsettling the Transnational Turn

Stream Convenor: Jon Piccini

A recent issue of History Australia has called transnationalism “one of the strongest trends in Australian historical writing over the past two decades”. The most recent issue of JASAL is themed on “the transnational locations of Australian literature”. Transnationalism is significant in migration studies, political science, art and education. It is at this point, as the editors of recent collection Transnationalism, Nationalism and Australian History offer, that scholars might want to take “a moment to pause”: to think through the possibilities that the transnational toolkit has provided to the diverse fields of Australian studies, while equally paying attention to its pitfalls.

We seek papers that respond to the following topics:

  • Thinking transnationally in and beyond the State
  • Global circulations versus situated knowledges
  • The politics of the transnational after Trump
  • Telling transnational stories in a digital age
  • Translating the transnational
  • Seeking refuge from the nation


Unsettling the Environment

Stream Convenors: Melissa Harper and Jessica White

Two hundred and thirty years of colonisation in Australia has had a devastating impact on our natural environment, witnessed in the sharp decline and extinction of plant and animal species and the interruption of Indigenous modes of caring for Country. This stream aims to examine ways in which research and knowledge can redress the impact of this ecological history, and shape current and future responses to our increasingly precarious natural world. We are interested in scholarship which rethinks and unsettles historical approaches to environment in Australia, and which considers how an island continent with unique biota manages relationships with a global world and climate.

We seek papers from a wide range of disciplines which address any of the following:

  • Indigenous Ecologies
  • Destabilising through Science
  • Multicultural Engagements with Natural Environments
  • Non-Human Invasions
  • Un/Translating European Terrains
  • Local Places and Stories


Unsettling Colonial Networks

Stream Convenor: Anna Johnston

New approaches to understanding Empire and colonialism as part of global networks increasingly draw attention to the connections between Australia and other colonial locations. Both settler colonial and indigenous networks reveal the rich traffic in ideas, books, and material objects between locales, decentring metropolitan centres of Empire and drawing attention to transcolonial movements.

We welcome papers and panels in this stream that consider:

  • Colonial networks and settler colonialism
  • Indigenous networks and global politics
  • Knowledge production and circulation
  • Collecting and curating practices
  • Material and textual cultures
  • The aftermath of colonialism in contemporary cultures


Unsettling Resource Extraction

Stream Convenor: Sally Babidge

In Australia we extract a vast range of minerals, oil and gas, and Australians have founded some of the biggest global extraction companies. However, with the shifting ecological, political and cultural complexities of changing world, how does extraction figure in Australians’ present and future lives and understandings of their past? We aim to bring together works that consider how resource extraction is unsettled in terms of key themes of desire, memory and materiality. Desire incorporates the promise of economic wealth and how people (corporate, community, states) imagine themselves into an ethic of resource extractivism. Memory practices include individual and collective narratives of extraction, experiences of mining landscapes, and the ways mining places may be part of recognised heritage and national history. The experiential and political contingency of different resources focus our attention upon materiality: for example, the relationships afforded in the process of coal seam gas extraction have distinct kinds of effects compared to open cut mining of coal.

We invite papers and panels from scholars of all kinds on the following themes: 

  • Extraction and Indigenous Peoples
  • Gender and extraction
  • Technologies, knowledge and science of impact
  • Fevers and frontiers in history
  • Biographies, lives and effects of mined materials


Unsettling Intimacies in the Pacific Rim

Stream Convenor: Anna Johnston

The Pacific Rim constitutes an especially vital site of enquiry because it was the region of the Anglo colonial world most characterised by an intense mobility of settlers, Indigenous peoples, and mixed-race communities, connected by oceanic flows, emigration, shifting labour supplies, and new trans-colonial maritime, fishery, pastoral, and gold rush economies. New kinds of colonial frontiers opened up diverse industries, which in turn created distinctive intercultural relationships and communities.

We welcome diverse disciplinary papers that consider:

  • Relationships—personal, professional, legal and improvisational—in the colonial Pacific
  • Indigenous accommodation, resistance and utilisation of settler economies
  • Memories and representations of colonial violence
  • Intimacy and violence in state formation


Unsettling Gender, Sexualities, Bodies

Stream Convenor: Lisa Featherstone

This stream will bring together scholars to consider the multiple and diverse ways gender, sexuality and the body have been constructed, articulated, and experienced in Australia in the present and the past. Issues of gender and sexuality are constantly in the daily press and on social media, and it is timely to once again turn an academic eye to the ways they unsettle – and are unsettled – in Australian society.

In particular, we aim to explore the range of gender and sexual identities in Australia, and how these might be experienced, practiced and embodied. We are also interested in the ways these identities have intersected with authoritative discourses including the state, the law, the media, medicine, and the education system. Finally, we wish to examine their discursive evaluations, and what these tell us about our culture.

We invite papers and panels from established and emerging scholars on the following themes:

  • LGBTIQ lives, then and now
  • Networks and communities
  • Race, gender, sexuality
  • Intersectionalities
  • Sexuality/textuality
  • Gender, sex, violence


Unsettling Race and Sovereignty

Stream Convenors: Maggie Nolan and Melissa Harper

Race, sovereignty and ethnicity remain at the centre of Australian public life, whether in discussions of constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers or the Racial Discrimination Act. Debates about national monuments, Australia Day and religious apparel point to ongoing tensions about how the nation should be understood. This stream brings together scholars to consider how and why these issues continue to dominate and unsettle Australians’ sense of themselves. It seeks to explore the ongoing racialisation of contemporary Australian society.

In particular, we hope to explore current debates in relation to the meanings of Indigenous sovereignty, and the diversity and complexity of Indigenous lives, cultures and communities. We also aim to understand why racism, marginalisation and disadvantage continue in spite of ongoing projects of self-determination, multiculturalism and anti-discrimination protections. Finally, we seek to explore the significance of the creative worlds of non-mainstream Australian culture.

We invite interdisciplinary papers and panels from established and emerging scholars on the following themes:

  • History, commemorations and memorials
  • The Uluru statement and Indigenous sovereignty
  • Multiculturalism, migration and Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers
  • The racialisation of Islam in Australia.
  • The persistence of racism in Australia and the 18c debate
  • Indigenous and ethnic Australian cultural production


Unsettling Class

Stream Convenors: Maggie Nolan and Jon Piccini

The worldwide success of Thomas Picketty’s Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century reveals the recentring of economics and inequality as key questions after the global financial crisis. Commentary analysing populist successes (such as Brexit and Donald Trump) has focused on a supposedly neglected and angry white working class and how a revitalised left might respond. In Australia, the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson suggests new imbrications of class and race.

“Unsettling Class” considers contemporary debates about class in Australia. In particular, we hope to explore the rise of identity politics on the right and left, the world of twenty-first century work, and the dynamics of class struggle and political activism: how class intersects with other categories of selfhood; how it is experienced in a country in which most people define themselves as middle-class; and whether the return of the working class to public debate harkens a new period of radical politics.

We invite papers and panels from established and emerging scholars on the following themes:

  • The white working class and the Indigenous middle class
  • Class and identity politics
  • The middle class, the aspirational class and new Australian elites
  • The world of work in the digital age
  • The rise of the right in twenty-first century Australia
  • Left wing activism in the age of populism