Faculty of Arts
Research Networks Seed Funding Scheme 2010
Due: 7th June 2010, 1 signed hard-copy to Graduate School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Ground Floor Reception, Old Arts Building, AND 1 pdf version to firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Louise Hitchcock Employee No. : 048979
School: Historical Studies Level of appointment: Level C
Date (year) appointed to the university: 2004 End date of this appointment (if applicable): N/A
Teaching and Research staff member X Research staff member
Name (Title, First name, Last name)
School (and Faculty for any staff outside the Faculty of Arts)
Dr. Mammad Aidani
Australian Centre/Historical Studies
Dr. Sara Wills
Australian Centre/Historical Studies
Dr. Fran Martin
Cultural Studies/Culture & Communications.
Dr. Felicity Harley-McGowan
Art History/Culture & Communications
Dr. James Oliver
Dr. Andrew Jamieson
Classics & Archaeology/Historical Studies
Dr. Dvir Abramovich
Jewish Studies/Historical Studies
A/Prof. Gocha Tsetskhladze
Classics & Archaeology/Historical Studies
Prof. Kate Darian-Smith
Australian Centre/Historical Studies
A/Prof. Peter Eckersall
English & Theatre/Culture & Communication (also in another proposal)
Dr. Nicholas Vlahogiannis
History/School of Historical Studies.
Dr. Joanna Wills
Cultural Heritage Officer, International Council of Museums, Asia-Pacific Alliance
B.1 What is the theme or themes around which this research collaboration is proposed? Provide a brief justification of the significance of the theme(s) for the Faculty of Arts’ research future.
Project Title: The Site is a Stage/The Stage is a Site: Archaeology and the Narration of Transcultural Identities
Our research network will be linked to the following interconnected themes: Colonialism, Migration and Diaspora; Transculturalism and Hybridity; Belonging, Assimilation, Trauma and Displacement; and Identity as Constructed through Experience and Performativity. We plan to interrogate the categories of the construction of human identity and what it means to be human in the past and present. Locating these categories in the realm of language and culture lies at the core of the Liberal Arts as a creative endeavor in understanding the human condition. Understanding the impact of population movements and experiences plays a key role in constructing identity. In the Bronze Age, catastrophes resulted in refugee and diaspora migrations, but they are poorly understood and the role of trauma and suffering is under-theorized because the populations have long since disappeared, leaving only material remains and destructions. The sites of ancient trauma and destruction might form a discursive space for elaborating contemporary trauma. In the Classical world such movements have been understood as colonization, Hellenization, and Romanization, or articulated through post-colonial narratives. They are in a state of crisis and would also benefit from participating in a dialog with contemporary scholarship on these issues. In addition, by the early Iron Age, migrations from an almost complete collapse of Bronze Age society resulted in the appearance of new cultural groups including Phoenicians, Philistines, Neo-Hittites, Israelites, and the emergence of the Greek polis or city. These processes were previously explained through invoking colonialist narratives, which imply asymmetrical relationships of superior migrants bringing culture to backward native populations. Recent scholarship has sought to replace this model with employing the terms creolization, mimicry, and/or hybridity to imply cultural mixing, however creolization is a term that also has colonialist origins expressed linguistically rather than through conquest, and hybridity is located in biological metaphors linked to the cross-breeding of plants and/or animals. These terms are outdated and fail to capture the complexity and multi-vocality of cultural mixing and clashing by multiple groups of migrants with varying motivations.
Preceded by continuous contact through trade, conflict, and diplomacy in the Bronze Age, cultural changes in the Iron Age may be better understood as a result of movements by knowledgeable groups reacting to negative push stresses and positive pull attractions of the socio-economic situation as a possible explanation for migration. However, mechanistic explanations do not address the social and cultural fragmentation, trauma, and sedimentation of identities that results from the clash of cultures that would occur over several generations of living in a new world, or the role of gender in contributing to cultural change. Interactions between archaeologists with cultural theorists studying the contemporary migrant experience may shed new light on theorizing these changes, while the focus on material culture in the distant past can serve to illuminate the role of material culture in the present. As a model for encompassing this dialectic, we prefer the model of transculturalism, which allows for considering the entire range of encounter, interaction, polylog (multiple dialogs) and performance in the past and the present.
B.2 Outline your potential to build a new collaboration around existing research interests or a new field of research.
Our network will be absolutely unique in taking a Longue durée and multicultural approach to the understanding of migrant identity and diaspora moving back and forth, from the prehistoric, classical and Byzantine past, which spans a time of periodic social upheavals, complete social collapse leading to the formulation of new ethnic groups and the migration to new lands as well as new religions, to the experiences of migrants and refugees in the present. In the distant past, cultural identity is understood through empirical evidence such as the epic journey, art, the spatial manipulation of material remains, foodways, and language formation while in the present migrant identities are understood through art, performativity, hospitality, trauma, stigma, suffering, experience, and assimilation. We will interrogate how studies of identity in the past and present might help us re-imagine migrant experiences.
B.3 What will this cross disciplinary and cross School collaboration add to existing or emerging research by the individuals/groups involved?
We hope to develop nothing less than a new field of research in transculturalism and identity studies at the University of Melbourne through an innovative merging of theatre studies, archaeology, food studies, theories of embodiment and performativity, cultural studies, indigenous studies, history, and philosophy. We believe that our collaboration will lead to invoking new questions, and combining material culture, oral testimonies, and text in novel ways that lead to innovative new ways in understanding the relationship between the construction of identity and trauma through examining what it means to reflect on the foreign. Interaction with diaspora and refugee communities by archaeologists will provide new insights into the way we interpret ancient remains and contemporary experience to narrativize the past and present. In addition, cultural theorists studying the present will gain new insights into the way material culture affects performativity. Archaeology enables us to open up the world of the invisible by creating a context for conversation through the medium of past cultures, which can serve as a mechanism to narrativize traumas in the present. Performativity, thus becomes a medium to develop a conversation and language mediates the symbolism of both the present and the past. An example of this is found in the work of Herodotus, who created a narrative of the places he visited, which later became supplemented and frequently re-written through archaeological and historical study.
B.4 How is the proposed research collaboration new and different to existing research that the named participants are involved in? Please verify that it has not previously received substantial funding support, including from any other Faculty or University collaborative or inter-disciplinary funding schemes.
What is absolutely unique about this network is that it represents a new collaboration that will comprehensively bring scholars studying the ancient world at the University of Melbourne for the first time into contemporary conversations in cultural studies with global coverage involving Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Australia and engaging all major monotheistic and some polytheistic religions. Similar types of networks have been created at Stanford University and at Theoretical Archaeology Group Meetings in Britain, though these lacked the multicultural component that is proposed here. The network is inspired through new conversations between Hitchcock and Aidani that began at the School of Historical Studies research day and through Hitchcock’s participation in Faculty of Arts meetings on forming research clusters. It has received no prior funding. Our main goal is to stimulate and inspire our research to take new directions both collectively and individually, and produce tangible outcomes in the form of publications and grant proposals. Our goal is to develop new, cross-disciplinary and multicultural interpretations of identity, sites, objects, memory, and culture.
We are proposing a broad temporal and geographic scope that spans the Late Bronze Age (ca. 17th c. BCE) cultures of the east Mediterranean to contemporary Australian society, and includes migrant communities from the non-western and western world. We will examine how the experiences of peoples in the past and present can inform each other and result in new narratives of regional, human, and individual histories. In looking at the individual as a site for the performance of identity, we will examine how the tensions between uniqueness, tradition, and change affect identity. Through a dialectic approach, we hope to open up new research questions in the social sciences and humanities. One constancy, which links our approaches is attention to memory and nostalgia as evoked by food and landscape across the migrant experience regardless of class, place, time period, socio-economic experience or gender – whether it is the Philistine introducing the consumption of pork to the Levant or the evocative role of the cherry tree in contemporary Persian migrant communities as explored by Aidani. In recent work, Hitchcock has used the sights, smells, sounds, and performances of Samaritan ritual sacrifice in Israel to give voice to 13th c. BCE architectural ritual spaces in ancient Cyprus. Material culture and the habits ingrained through its everyday use have the power to move our understanding of identity beyond the limitations of words. In Orientalism, Edward Said compared the Middle East to a stage set of Europe’s collective daydream with a rich cast of characters including Troy, Babylon, the Arabian Nights, and Biblical stories. This metaphor can be extended to all parts of the non-western world that have been subjected to colonialism and we propose to use this symbolism to re-appropriate the concept of performance and theatricality to give voice to the voiceless, re-contextualize objects in a new narrative, and reflect on materiality by replacing dialog with polylog.
B. 5 Outline the potential of this group to build external links with other researchers beyond the Faculty of Arts or with industry research partners.
Our goal is to engage contemporary migrant communities in our study, including Africans, Asians, Middle Eastern peoples, Jews, Greeks, and eastern Europeans in discussions about multiculturalism, memory, and existence. It has the potential to engage researchers working in psychology, public health, museums, and heritage studies. It also has the potential to engage community leaders and religious leaders of various migrant groups.
B.6 How many RHD students have the applicants attracted and how many have completed in the last five years? Please list enrolments and completions for those named in this research cluster, on either an individual basis (for small groups of applicants) or a School basis (for large groups).
Louise Hitchcock (7 RHD Completions [3 PhDs, 4 MAs] and 18 Honours completions in 5 years) Currently involved in the supervision or co-supervision of 14 students
Mammad Aidani (1 RHD Completion at Victoria University, 1 co-supervision). Is extremely popular as a workshop coordinator for RHD students across the Faculty.
Sara Wills (2 RHD completions plus 4 as Associate Supervisor in 5 years) Currently involved as primary supervisor of 9 RHD students.
Other participants have a good supervision and completion record, particularly A/Profs. Darian-Smith and Eckersall.
B.7 How will the collaboration involve existing or attract new graduate research students?
We will stimulate new approaches to ethnography, fieldwork, language study, and writing historical narratives about identity, assimilation, multiculturalism, the role of the past in the present, and the significance of material culture. Several of Hitchcock’s students are already involved in the study of interconnections in constructing identity through the study of jewelry, maritime symbolism, libation practices, comparative linguistics, Philhellenic identity, and body modification. She hopes to attract more students combining contemporary ethnography with the study of consumption patterns and symbolism in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Mediterranean. Aidani has attracted students to his workshops and performances from a broad range of disciplines including Law, Land and Environment, and Classics. Wills’ students are engaged in research of Somali migrant communities, Iraqi asylum seekers, transgenerational shifts in identity among Vietnamese migrants, and transnational histories of Burmese migrants in Australia. Other students in the Australian Centre are working on projects that involve local museums such as the Immigration and Jewish Museums, and working with Asian, African, Greek, and Middle Eastern migrant communities. Their projects include the study of memory and transnational families. In addition, we have already been contacted by other students in the School of Historical Studies who are keen to engage in this research network as a means of theoretically informing their thesis research and we will promote the network to students through Faculty e-mail lists.
B.8 What initial activities are proposed to build this collaboration? What outcomes are expected to be achieved after 1 year?
We would like to begin with monthly research network meetings – with some taking place in ethnic restaurants over a shared meal, take fieldtrips every other month to sites of local importance in the migrant community, conduct a workshop at the end of year one, and submit at least one refereed article for each network participant. Hitchcock has been previously involved in developing research networks in the study of archaeological theory among European and American archaeologists working in Athens and in the Dept. of Archaeology at Cambridge University. In addition, we hope to broaden participation across the Faculty beyond the individuals listed in this application. In fact, individuals submitting other Research Network proposals have expressed interest in joining this network if their application is unsuccessful. Hitchcock engaged in a program of fieldtrips as a member of a research network at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and found them to play a key role in fostering conversations and stimulating creativity. We propose to take fieldtrips to experience Sufi and Zoroastrian rituals in Melbourne, participate in Sudanese coffee ceremonies, visit migrant resource centres, mosques, the Maronite church, participate in Jewish rituals, and view cultural collections on campus and at Heritage Victoria. Different members of the group will plan the field trips on a rotating basis under the coordination of Aidani. If the application is not successful, we would be interested in becoming involved in a comparable research network that does receive funding.
B.9 At the conclusion of 2 years of funding ,what are the proposed outcomes from this collaboration? Include research meetings and colloquia, publications resulting from the collaboration, new relationships external to the University, submission of grant applications, collaborative teaching, increased public profile of the collaboration and the University
We plan to continue the activities described above.
Culmination of 2 years would be a 1 day conference that would culminate in a play
The conference will enable the research network to present the results of our conversations and interactions while also interacting with an international speaker of prominence in cultural studies and including colleagues from neighboring universities.
The play will invoke symbolism of how contemporary migrants interact with the past in the form of ancient objects, concepts of hospitality, and epic such as the story Gilgamesh. Our goal is to open up the conversation about identity and involve members of local cultural communities.
Publish the proceedings of the conference
Submit one or more ARC applications
Present our research at national and international conferences, such as the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting where Hitchcock chairs a session on Theoretical and Anthropological Approaches to Near Eastern Archaeology
Present several Public Lectures
All of these activities will raise the public, academic, and international profile of both the Research Network and the University.
$ Total Amount Requested
Teaching Relief for Network Coordinator (only available for the Coordinator for tutorials and equivalent duties, and is NOT available to those who hold Faculty teaching support fellowships for the period of the seed funding. Amounts requested should be determined in consultation with your Head of School)
N/A Network Coordinator has Teaching Relief for her ARC project
Sub-Total (teaching relief):
Colloquia and Seminars
Coffee Break for Year 1 Workshop
Will apply for Venue Fee Waiver for 1 day conference & play in year 2
Coffee Breaks for year 2 conference
Poster and Program Print and Design for year 2
Reception for year 2
Production of Play for year 2
Web site Development and Maintenance
Develop and Maintain Blog and Facebook Page for Research Network Year 1
Maintain Blog and FB Page for Network in Year 2
Sub-Total (web site):
a. Travel (bringing in international or interstate collaborators who cannot be funded from existing Faculty and University schemes, such as the Visiting Scholars Scheme)
Note that funding to attend conferences is not included in this scheme
Invite 2 Interstate Speakers in Cultural Studies for Year 1 Workshop
Invite Prominent International Speaker in cultural studies or the arts such as Donald Preziosi or Homi Bhaba for Year 2 Conference
Will use the $2,500.00 as matching funds to supplement budget with grant form Ian Potter foundation
Will fund a prominent international speaker in Philistine Archaeology and Hybridity from Network Coordinator’s ARC Grant
Post-doctoral Research Assistant in Year 1
JUSTIFICATION OF THE BUDGET:
Having yearly goals, with the final culmination being a conference and a play will focus the collaboration, while a website will inexpensively promote the network’s activities. Having a research assistant in year 1 to gather research materials for the group, will free the group to maximize its collaborative potential and give it momentum for achieving the outcomes of a conference and 1 or more grant proposals in year 2. The Network coordinator has planned up to 6 international trips a year of her own and has already organized a major international conference (DAIS: The Aegean Feast, the 12th International Aegean Conference). She is well-versed in travel and conference costs as well as how to maximize funding through applying for fee waivers and matching grants. Her co-coordinator, Aidani is experienced in the writing and production of theatrical performances. The play will serve as a highly visible focus of our activities that will engage broader communities. Aidani and Wills will coordinate the network while Hitchcock is on SSP Long in semester 2 in 2011, but Hitchcock will continue to participate through the use of new technologies.