Recent research projects with DAAD funding

(2017-2018) German Anthropological Legacies in Australia

Joint project with Prof Peter Monteagh and Assoc Prof Matt Fitzpatrick, Finders University Adelaide
Funding body: DAAD

The project examines the history of German anthropological research in Australia. Members of the bi‐national research cooperation inquire into the processes of nineteenth‐century collection acquisitions, trace the entangled object histories that have resulted from these endeavours, and inquire into the changing status of this legacy in the postcolonial present.
To this end, the project participants are engaged in a bi‐national dialogue about the German history of science and the specific role of German anthropologists in colonial Australia. They critically interrogate the collected specimen, the writings, and the anthropological data compiled by German ethnologists and anatomists, with a particular interest in archives located in Germany which have not yet been sufficiently scrutinized with respect to the historical contexts of acquisition.

(2015-2016) Experimental Histories and Alternative Archives

Joint project with Dr Andrew Hurley and Dr Katrina Schlunke University of Technology Sydney
Funding body: DAAD

Debates about the past have been a source of vigorous contestation in both Germany and Australia. Both countries have had their version of history wars and those debates have informed each other and mobilised similar political oppositions (Habermas 1987, 1991; Davison 2000; Macintyre and Clark 2003). This is particularly the case in the instance of the figuration of genocide and the multiple ways in which modes of feeling around the Nazi Holocaust and Australian histories of settler violence have been used (Levy and Snzaider 2002; Moses 1996; 2011). Since both countries share a concern with sustaining the relevance of the meaning of past actions in the present (Rothberg, M. and Yildiz 2011; Assmann and Schwarz 2013), the turn to other forms of knowledge practices relating to the past is timely and of a significance that goes beyond academic debates.
The idea of experimental histories dovetails with other recent theorists’ attempts to reconceptualise knowledge practices and production, such as Ackbar Abbas’ ‘poor theory’; Kara Keeling’s use of Édouard Glissant’s ‘errantry’ and Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s concept of ‘fugitivity’. The project brings together scholars from the field of Cultural Studies in Germany and Australia to explore the nexus between experimental historiographical methods and the opening up of alternative possibilities of engaging with the past.

(2014, 2016) Waste Matters: Cultural Studies of Waste and the City

Joint project with Dr Fiona Allon, University of Sydney
Funding body: DAAD

Contemporary cities generate waste of various kinds on a scale that is often difficult to imagine and comprehend. Yet cities are also key sites for innovative practices of reuse, recycling and re-purposing. Through such cultures of renewal, waste products not only acquire a new value and function, but they also become entangled in new social relations, material practices and urban forms. Although waste is generally understood as the mundane, worthless, redundant and discarded afterwards of how we live our lives, this project takes as a starting point the fact that we spend a good amount of time in our ‘ordinary’ lives managing waste, and that the problem of how we manage waste is at the heart of the environmental crisis and the development of more sustainable futures. Building on research in waste studies (Boxall 2008; Cahill et. al. 2008; Evans 2011; Gregson 2007; Hawkins 2005, 2007; MacBride 2008; O’Brian 2007), and premised on the analytic importance of exploring that which is rejected, this project recognizes waste as a dynamic category that needs to be understood in relation to the urban contexts in which it is most commonly found and transformed, and the relationships in which it is embedded. For these purposes, the project brings together scholars from Australia and Germany within the fields of cultural and urban studies to investigate the diverse cultural phenomenon that is waste, the urban infrastructures that were designed to eliminate waste in the name of hygiene and technical efficiency but which are now in crisis, and the range of amateur and DIY urbanisms that are retooling waste in new and innovative ways.
Through intensive workshops and site visits in Sydney and Berlin, the project provides an opportunity for leading and emerging cultural studies scholars to collaborate and share approaches and to communicate their findings to German and Australian audiences.