Visual Sociology of Resistance

A building has a roller door with colourful street art. Drawn in a cartoon style from The Planet of the Apes, a purple figure in a military-style helmet says: It's time to end colonial power'

Below is my visual sociology for the first quarter of the year, from January to March, 2019. Take a journey from the Central Coast to Melbourne, and back to Sydney. This is part of my Weekends With a Sociologist series. Much of the imagery feature elements of social justice, protest or resistance, perfectly encapsulating what fuels my perseverance as a blogger and visual sociologist. More coming very soon. Enjoy!

Something for everybody

The year started hot and creative. Having gotten yet another tattoo for my birthday only a month earlier, I went back to Japanese-Australian artist, Hitome, from Broadway Tattoo, to get my next piece. I had long been looking for a woman of colour artist to entrust my intricate pieces, and she was wonderful, smart and easy to work with.

The parlour features a large black and white framed poster with art by Good Time Charlie and a quote from Leonard “Stoney” St Clair (below).  2-4 January 2019

“I am in the business of rendering a service to this community for the small group of people who choose to have their bodies decorated in some way or another. I choose my intelligence and skill, wishing not to offend anyone, but instead with my love of mankind, do what good I can before I die.”

Sydney Festival

Sydney is super fun in January, as the Sydney Festival showcases public art and performances from local and international creators. The first of two highlights was Deer Woman, from Canada. Telling the story of a First Nations woman who seeks revenge for her sister, the one-woman tour de force deals with sexual abuse, violence against women and colonial violence in a poignant and surprisingly funny way. The play was developed by Indigenous artists Tara Beagan and Andy Moro for Blackfoot woman and actress, Cherish Violent Blood. The stage was stripped bare, with just two screens reflecting infrared video of deer in the night, an esky, a tripod, and the opening of a tent, bundling a horrific secret.

Enjoy the voyage to the venue, the historic Carriageworks, which always features interesting posters. The nearby anti-colonialism street art is fitting, as a stark reminder of the seemingly endless gentrification of Redfern, loci of Aboriginal resistance and self-determination in central Gadigal land.

And that weathered freight train? It’s a regular fixture of my weekend commute.

The other highlight of the Sydney Festival was the installation Until by Black American artist, Nick Cave, which explored issues of racism, police brutality and violence though the use of glistening chandeliers, hanging crystals, beads and wind spinners. It looks beautiful and shiny, until you get up close and see symbols of guns and other signs that nothing is as it seems. 19 January 2019

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Invasion Day

The Invasion Day rally in Sydney was part of a national day of protest over the Australia Day long weekend. The holiday marks the genocide and dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This day will never be inclusive or live up to ideals of multiculturalism, as it is a Day of Mourning for First Nations people. We need to not just change the date but also change the nation. Aboriginal people are telling the country that this is the time for truth-telling of our national history, a Voice to Parliament and Makarrata (treaty), as outlined in the Uluru Statement From the Heart. We marched at the Invasion Day rally from Hyde Park South to the Yabun Festival. Read more on my blog. 26 January 2019


It’s always my birthday somewhere… Inca’s Restaurant in Darlinghurst is one of the greatest gastronomic adventures around, featuring the world’s most rewarding cuisine, straight from the beautiful and eternal culture of Peru. 1 February 2019

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The Rocks

The Rocks Markets in Sydney are a weekly fixture, and especially fun during summer.. If you think I missed my opportunity to eat paella as a reward for my visual sociology, you are very mistaken.  3 February 2019

Happy Lunar New Year

Every year, Sydney hosts Sydney-based Australian and overseas-born Chinese artists who create giant LED light sculptures representing the Lunar horoscope. This is the Year of the Pig. Enjoy these marvelous works. Sociologists, note in particular the LGBTQIA celebration by artist Guo Jian, who uses the The Rat to convey queer pride, a message amplified with the word “love” suspended high above the gay rodents dancing on a rainbow. (I missed photographing one of the signs – the dragon – because of exhaustion and my injured foot!) 6 February 2019

Stop forced adoptions

I attended the protest to stop forced adoptions in New South Wales. This year is the 11th anniversary of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations. On this day, the Grandmothers Against Removals were calling to reverse unfair legislation that would irrevocably separate Aboriginal children from their families. Indigenous children are removed at four times the rate since the Bringing Them Home report, which chronicled the impact of intergenerational trauma of forced removals in 1992. Read more on my blog. 13 February 2019

Protesters gather out the front of the Parliament of New South Wales. A lage Aboriginal flag hangs over the gates. An Aboriginal man is signing translation in Auslan. There are camera crews and photographers.

Cow Guardians of the Galaxy

The scene before us exactly summarises the change in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria: small statue of a cow in the middle of the street. This country town is starting to become a little more hipster each time I see it, as the urban sprawl pushes out people into rural regions. I was visiting town with my oldest friend, whom I’ve known since I was born. We had lunch (what else, but all day breakfast?), we walked around, and talked about how much things have changed since we were younger. 17 February 2019.

Serpent of life

I visited the Central Coast in February to do some volunteering on a youth project I had worked on late last year. I stayed near the Hawkesbury train station, which had a few cute shops and places to eat. The place I stayed at had some fierce Sociology of Hotel Art: a bunch of angry, staring birds!

The first photo below is of artwork at Hornsby train station, New South Wales. The Rainbow Serpent evokes the Dreaming stories of Ku-ring-gai and Darug people in the region. The other scenes are from other parts of town, including a stark metal statue and fountain and the local cinema. As is customary in my visual sociology of rural and remote regions, I seek out the restaurants run by migrants and support their business. In this case, a Chinese restaurant, House of Canton, run by lovely Chinese women. 22 February 2019

Welcome to Mardi Gras!

Central Station, Sydney, Mardi Gras weekend 2019. 3 March 2019

International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day, I attended the event, In Conversation – Governor-Designate The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC. She is a White Anglo-Australian woman whose mother did not finish secondary school, as she was forced to quit at the end of Year 9 because she was impoverished. Beazley trained as a lawyer and has always been interested in, ‘The love of the “why” of things.’ Beazley began her speech talking about the history of International Women’s Day, which started as a socialist movement. (Thrilling to hear a lawyer talk sociology!)

Her advice for large groups of women is:

‘There’s no good time to have children. Have your kids. Don’t think, “I’ll work for 5 years, 10 years, until I get to this grade.” You gotta let life happen in your own patterns.’

She also said that women sharing their personal stories of gender inequity is important. But we need more organisational level statistical surveys to unravel what’s actually happening in different sectors. For example, Beazley says the government contributes to gender pay disparity in law, because women lawyers are less likely to be employed in the private sector, and lower-paying contracts tend to be awarded to women.

She also advocated for sustainable programs that improve literacy for people who are incarcerated, so they have the necessary skills to navigate life when they are released from prison. She also said she’s keen for the state to tackle its over-policing of Aboriginal youth. 7 March 2019

A large crowd faces the stage. The overwhelming majority of the audience are White women

How to Rule the World

I went to see Nakkiah Lui’s new play, ‘How to Rule the World.’ Highly recommended for incisive political satire about Indigenous sovereignty, the demonisation of refugees, ethics, and what it takes for middle class Aboriginal people and other people of colour to gain mainstream political power. 11 March 2019

By the way, if you’re reading this in Melbourne, Lui’s previous play, Blackie Blackie Brown is currently doing a short run at the Malthouse. It’s rambunctious fun about avenging colonial violence in modern times. Go check it out!

This is 18

This outdoors photographic exhibition was on at the Sydney Opera House. The exhibition is by young women around the world, documenting life for other 18 year old women in their communities. 11 March 2019

In the foreground is a large photo of a woman of colour from the Middle East. She is holding her hand to her temple, with shadows across her face. In the background is various other large photographs of young women


Make a wish

Memories of spending most of the day in an interesting cafe in Melbourne, in between other meetings and a workshop. 12 March 2019

Celluloid factory

Dendy Cinemas at Circular Quay. 12 March 2019

Democracy sausage

In March, we voted in our State Election! I went to the polls to say: down with Nazis,  end the demonisation of vulnerable and marginalised people, and kill-off fear politics. I said yes to Aboriginal sovereignty and state endorsement of the Uluru Statement, climate action, removing racial discrimination from the legal system, increasing inclusion for migrants and refugees, informed health policies, increased funding and self-advocacy for the independence and dignity of disabled people, uplifting youth civic participation, and better outcomes for students in schools, vocational training and University. I noted for respect and fairness for all.

My democracy sausage and I were ready for progress and change; and we’ll do it all again next time.

For those overseas: Australians buy a sausage to celebrate our vote. Little community stands are set up to sell hot dogs and lamingtons to raise money for charity, schools or for community organisations. Most of us vote at schools, or in my case, the town hall.

After my vote and sausage, I then spent the day in gorgeous Redfern, which has lovely protest street art everywhere (check out homophic ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott marrying himself). I indulged in lovely all-day breakfast, my favourite part of visual sociology! 23 March 2019

Our boy gift book

And that was what the early part of 2019 looked like for this sociologist! We end here, on what I guess is meant to be a store’s display of delightful patriarchy? 24 March 2019

Close up of old, tattered books, one is green and shows a 1950s drawing of a White boy outdoors. The cover says: Our boy gift book. Red, blue and pink flowers srround the display

That’s it for now! My next visual sociology will have more tantalising treats.