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Summer School Sydney, Austrailia

Minor Cosmopolitan Justice and Aesthetics

Photos: Jarred Sferruzzi & Mariya Dimitrova Nikolova, Montage: Yann ArGall

Photos: Jarred Sferruzzi & Mariya Dimitrova Nikolova, Montage: Yann ArGall

:: The Call for Applications is Officially Closed ::


The summer school on Minor Cosmopolitan Justice and Aesthetics forms part of a larger research project on Minor Cosmopolitanisms that is concerned with establishing new ways of studying and understanding the cosmopolitan project against and beyond its Eurocentric legacies. Bringing together senior scholars and PD students in a Research Training Group located in Potsdam University in Germany, project members undertake research in conversation with scholars with various disciplinary backgrounds, located in universities and institutions around the globe.

Together with our partners at Macquarie University, the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms will host a summer school in Sydney, Australia from February 12-18, 2018 that will bring together artists, academics and activists to explore conceptions of justice and aesthetics crucial to a critical inquiry of the cosmopolitan.

While claims to universal human rights and justice have been a linchpin of Eurocentric Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, critics have pointed out the vexed relationship of universal human rights and cultural specificity to the end of articulating a multitude of alternative notions of justice. The production and dissemination of art across national boundaries has been crucial in establishing cosmopolitan trajectories of exchange and inquiry. At the same time, aesthetic practices have been complicit in neo-liberal capitalist logics of the market, which privileges a monodirectional proliferation of products, ideas, and knowledge from the Euro-American centre. Therefore, there is a tangible but also productive tension between justice and aesthetics in various post-/de-/anti-colonial discourses.

The Australian settler colonial state is a particularly apt space to investigate these questions. Artists and performers have greatly contributed to shaping a counter-discourse that addresses colonial and neocolonial strategies of displacement, marginalisation and oppression. These responses are part of a structural re-empowerment of Aboriginal artists among others, and contribute to essential debates on issues of sovereignty and restorative justice. 

Tying in with these discussions, the Summer School will address the following questions:

  • How do aesthetic practices inhabit and inhibit various concepts of justice?
  • How do such aesthetic practices address issues of citizenship, class, education, gender, race, age, and ability?
  • In which ways do artistic traditions and canon formation relate to minor cosmopolitan justice? What do appropriation and integration into “major” power-sustaining structures do to those artistic practices?
  • How do Indigenous communities and groups relate to concepts of nationhood, sovereignty, newcomer, and land? In this context, what is the currency of non-statist sovereignty?
  • How can an aesthetics of nature be relevant to issues of justice? How is environmental justice negotiated, especially vis-à-vis Indigenous communities, and problems like dwindling biodiversity and ecosystem degradation?
  • How can different experiences of oppression and persecution be productively addressed in relation to each other? Where can those connections be rendered visible to support acknowledgment and restorative justice?

Summer School Program

Click here to view the program 

Summer School Faculty

Alia Amir Ali (Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad)

Alia Amir Ali is a left-wing political worker who has worked closely with various working-class movements, students, women, katchi abadi dwellers, and the landless tenants' movement in Punjab. She has been actively involved in the rebuilding of the progressive National Students Federation (NSF) of which she served as former General Secretary (Punjab), and now works closely with the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan. She is also a researcher on the Baloch National Movement, and is currently a lecturer at the Center of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

Tess Allas (UNSW Sydney)

Tess Allas has worked in the field of Aboriginal art since the early 1990's. She has coordinated, curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions  including 181 Regent Street: Addressing Black Theatre in 2012 for the 2012 Festival of Sydney at Carriageworks; Shimmer, 2015/16 at Wollongong Art Gallery and With Secrecy and Despatch, 2016 at Campbelltown Arts Centre. She has curated a number of international print exhibitions in Montreal, Canada for the Montreal First Nations Festival; for the Gorman Museum at the University of California, Davis and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection in the United States as well as many smaller exhibitions on the South Coast of NSW. In 2012 Tess was the recipient of an Arts Fellowship from Arts NSW for further study and investigation into the history and contemporary practice of shellworking in NSW Aboriginal communities.

She has written hundreds of biographies on Aboriginal artists for the 'Storylines Project' (www.storylines.org.au) which were published on the Design & Art Australia Online website (www.daao.org.au). Her print publications include essays for the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection (University of Virginia) as well as articles in Art Monthly, Art & Australia, Artist Profile and Artlink. With Daniel Browning she co-edited the Blak on Blak edition of Artlink (Vol 30 No 1). Tess was the commissioning editor of the 2014 Artspace monograph on artist Frances Belle Parker. With fellow artistic collaborator, Charlie Schneider, Tess showed her video work Andy Warhol on Aboriginal Art at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Adelaide as part of the 2014 Adelaide Festival's visual art program. This video work was also shown at the Kallio Kunsthalle in Helsinki, Finland in 2016 with an accompanying print exhibition. The video was the result of a two-month residency in the Rocky Mountains, Canada in 2012, hosted by the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 


Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal journalist and radio broadcaster. A descendant of the Bundjalung and Kullilli peoples of far northern New South Wales and south-western Queensland, Daniel presents and produces Awaye!, the Indigenous art and culture program on ABC RN which surveys contemporary cultural practice across the arts spectrum. A visual arts graduate, Daniel is also a widely-published arts writer.


Roxley Foley

Kaurna Hills, born Roxley Foley of the Gumbaynggirr Nations, is a young Aboriginal political and historical commentator from what is now known as the federated colonies of Australia Incorporated. Born to activist families active in the indigenous arts, land rights and anti-nuclear movements, he has a unique insight into the worlds of institutions, governance, law, activism, land rights and repatriations. Since being sent to the Australian capital from a series of grass-roots community circles around the country, he now sits as a sacred firekeeper and facilitator of dialog, operating from the first people’s front line: the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

Alana Lentin (Western Sydney University)

Dr Alana Lentin is Associate Professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at the University of Western Sydney and the current President of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association. Formerly she was at the Department of Sociology at Sussex University and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. In 2017, she was the Hans Speier Visiting Professor of Sociology at the New School, New York.

Alana works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. She is co-editor of the Rowman and Littlefield International book series, Challenging Migration Studies. Her latest books are Racism and Sociology (with Wulf D. Hund 2014) and The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (with Gavan Titley, 2011). Her articles have appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, European Journal of Social Theory, the European Journal of Cultural Studies, Patterns of Prejudice and Information, Communication and Society. She writes for outlets such as The Guardian, OpenDemocracy, Base Publication, The Conversation and The Religion and Ethics Report. She has also been interviewed for ABC Radio National Australia, the NHK Japanese Television, and The Islam Channel.


Ina Kerner (University Koblenz-Landau)

Ina Kerner is a professor of politics in the Institute of Cultural Studies at University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany. Prior to this, she held faculty positions at the three Berlin universities as well as research fellowships or visiting professorships at the New School for Social Research in New York, the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, and the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at Goldsmiths in London, among others. In the fall term of 2015/16 she was a guest professor at the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaide-Azam University in Islamabad. Her teaching and research interests bridge political theory and gender studies; currently, she mostly works in the fields of feminist theories, intersectionality, and postcolonial theory. Her most recent publications in English include: "Relations of Difference: Power and Inequality in Intersectional and Postcolonial Feminist Theories", in the journal Current Sociology, 65 (2017) and "Solidarity across Difference Lines", forthcoming in Social Politics.

Stephen Muecke (UNSW Sydney)

Stephen Muecke is Professor Emeritus of Ethnography at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, where he is part of the Environmental Humanities programme, and Jury Chair at the University of Adelaide. He has written extensively on Indigenous Australia, especially from the Kimberley, and on the Indian Ocean. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a Faculty member, Global Center for Advanced Studies, Switzerland. He is the author, editor or translator of 19 books and 31 refereed articles since 2000. He has supervised 56 research theses, Honours to PhD, and is a creative writer (fictocritical writing, poetry) with several shortlistings and prizes.


Suvendrini (Suvendi) Perera (Curtin University)

Suvendrini (Suvendi) Perera is John Curtin Distinguished Professor and Research Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts. She completed her BA at the University of Sri Lanka and her PhD at Columbia University, New York. Since coming to Australia she has published widely on issues of  social justice, including decolonization, race, ethnicity and multiculturalism, refugee topics, critical whiteness studies and Asian-Australian studies.Suvendi began teaching career at the City University of New York. She has combined her academic career with participation in policymaking, public life and activism. Suvendi is the author/editor of seven books, including Reachs of EmpireAustralia and the Insular Imagination: Beaches, Borders, Boats and Bodies and Survival Media: The Politics and Poetics of Mobility and the War in Sri Lanka. She is coeditor, with Sherene Razack, of the anthology, At the Limits of Justice: Women of Colour on Terror.  She is currently the lead investigator on two ARC funded projects "Old Atrocities, New Media" and "Deathscapes." She is a founding member of Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites. 


Joseph Pugliese (Macquarie University)

Professor Joseph Pugliese is Research Director of the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies. Joseph's research and teaching are principally oriented by issues of social justice.  He deploys critical and cultural theories in order to examine and address the relationship between knowledge and power, issues concerned with discrimination and injustice, state violence, institutional racism, and regimes of colonialism and empire.  He examines these issues in the context of everyday cultural practices, the state, institutions of power such as law, and the interface of bodies and technologies.

His most recent publications include two monographs: State Violence and the Execution of Law: Biopolitical Caesurae of Torture, Black Sites, Drones (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2013). The book was nominated for the following international book prizes: the UK's Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize 2014 and the US Law and Society Herbert Jacob Book Prize 2014.


Paul Sheehan (Macquarie University)

Paul Sheehan is Associate Professor in English at MacQuarie University. He publishes and teaches in various areas of literature from the late nineteenth century to the present, particularly the changing cultures of modernism and postmodernism. His research and teaching interests also include literary and cultural theory, modern drama, and film studies. Paul Sheehan has completed two volumes on the subject of Violence and Aesthetics, mapping the paths taken from 19th-century decadence through to late 20th-century art cinema. His current project is a study of poetic form through a genealogy of mainly French theorists, entitled 'Continental Theory and the Rapture of Poetry'.


Adrian Stimson

Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation. He has a MFA from the University of Saskatchewan. He considers himself as an interdisciplinary artist, exhibiting nationally and internationally. His paintings are primarily monochromatic. They are melancholic, memorializing, and sometimes whimsical, evoking ideas of cultural fragility, resilience and nostalgia. The British Museum recently acquired two paintings for their North American Indigenous collection. His performance art looks at identity construction, specifically the hybridization of the Indian, the cowboy, the shaman and Two Spirit being. He is also known for putting his body under stress, in White Shame Re-worked, he pierced his chest 7 times, recreating a performance originally done by Ahasiw-Muskegon Iskew, crawled across the desert in 110 degree heat for What about the Red Man? for Burning Man’s The Green Man and recently dug a TRENCH in a five-day durational performance sunrise to sunset. As he attended three residential schools in his life, his installation work examines the residential school experience. He has used the material culture from Old Sun Residential School on his Nation to create works that speak to genocide, loss and resilience. His video work includes “As Above So Below”, presented in 2016 for With Secrecy and Despatch, Campbelltown Arts Centre, using drone cameras to create a 2 channel video played cinematically on the gallery wall, which spoke to colonial genocide through massacres on our traditional lands. He was a participant in the Canadian Forces Artist Program, which sent him to Afghanistan. He was awarded the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award in 2009, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003, the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and the REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award – Hnatyshyn Foundation. 

Dinesh Wadiwel (University of Sydney)

Dr Dinesh Wadiwel is a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and Socio-Legal Studies in the the School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Sydney. Dinesh’s research interests include theories of violence, critical animal studies and disability rights. He is author of the monograph The War Against Animals (Brill, 2015) and co-editor (with Matthew Chrulew) of the collection Foucault and Animals (Brill, 2016). Dinesh is convenor of the Human Animal Research Network (HARN) at the University of Sydney.


Call for Applications

We invite PhD candidates from Australia and the wider region whose projects touch upon the abovementioned issues to apply for participation in the summer school. To apply, please submit a short motivation letter, a short abstract of your research project, and a full CV before December 1st, 2017 to: sydneyschooluni-potsdamde.

Limited funding for participation in the Summer School is available for PhD students. Please indicate specifically if you are applying for a travel bursary.

For more information on the program please go to www.uni-potsdam.de/sydneyschool.

*Note: The call for applications has closed 

Contact information

Organizing team:

Yann Le Gall, Anouk Madörin, Moses März, Mariya Nikolova, Julia von Sigsfeld, Jens Temmen, Heinrich Wilke


Sydney Summer School Organizing Team

University of Potsdam

Campus Neues Palais, Bld. 2

Am Neuen Palais 10

14469 Potsdam





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