The Life and Death of a Shadow

The Life and Death of a Shadow. Artist Jumaadi created this story for the Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition, Telling Tales: Excursions in Narrative Form. Working in Sydney Australia and Yogyakarta Indonesia using Javanese shadow puppets, it is the true story of a deaf musician teaching his blind sin the art of wayang kulit, or shadow puppetry. “Spirits filled the living room, witnesses to this enchanted performance.”

Life with Frida

I went to the recent Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera exhibition in Sydney, Australia which chronicled not only their art and relationship but also their sociology! Both artists were Marxists. Here they are photographed in New York City at the New Workers School in 1933. Continue reading Life with Frida

Thinking Critically About History

Leah Shopkow and colleagues have carried out research on the challenges of teaching students to think critically about history. The researchers use sociology to introduce students to a critical reading of history, and they also use sociology to navigate the issues that arise in the classroom.

In general, they find that students react with emotion when faced with a critical reading history. Some students who belong to a majority group feel angry that their ancestors are being “attacked.” Some of them disengage from the material, feeling that the actions of the past don’t relate to them in the present. (Thereby refusing how majority groups continue to benefit from historical relations.) These students will also get defensive, thinking that the class is “biased.”

Continue reading Thinking Critically About History

Refugee Art Project

The Refugee Art Project is led by Sydney artist Safar Ahmed, but the drawings and watercolours in this exhibition are mostly created by untrained asylum seekers imprisoned at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney. The artists use food such as instant coffee mixed with water as they do not have access to at materials. The refugees are locked up indefinitely in some cases due to our callous immigrating policies in Australia that have been deemed unlawful by international agencies including the United Nations. Ahmed’s sketchbooks and zines are also on display.

Sociology of the National Arboretum

Playground at the National Arboretum Canberra

One of the themes of my visual sociology is the representation of science. Conservation is as much about social practices as it is about earth science, biology and other natural sciences. Today’s post is about the sociology of the National Arboretum, which sits on Ngunawal country. Ngunawal people are the traditional custodians of this part of Acton, west of the city in Canberra. Less than a seven minute drive central business district, this is one of the world’s largest arboretums for rare and endangered trees. I am no arborist. I cannot even claim to be a fan of gardening. I was interested in the Arboretum first in an attempt to capture a visual sociology of Canberra, and second to see how people interact with this place as a science centre. The focus of my post today is on the social dynamics of the Arboretum, especially on community aspects of conservation and the trees that drew the greatest interest amongst the crowds I saw: the Bonsai and Penjing Collection .
National Arboretum (18)

Continue reading Sociology of the National Arboretum

Wendy Saddington: Underground Icon

This exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery contains memorabilia collected by Canberra artist Peter Maloney of the Australian singer heralded as “The Face of 68” at the age of 18. She performed with many influential art rock groups in the 1970s. She eventually travelled to New York where she went on to join the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and adopted the name Gandharvika Devi Dasi and continued to perform under her Anglo name but shunned the music press. Continue reading Wendy Saddington: Underground Icon

Weekends With a Sociologist

The Canberra Times Fountain by Bob Woodward. Public art in Canberra City

Canberra is Australia’s capital city, but you may not necessarily know this if you were parachuted in blindfolded, out of the blue. While Sydney is bustling with tourists and attractions, and Melbourne is brimming with multicultural events, Canberra is seemingly pedestrian. On a Sunday, the majority of the shops close at 4 PM, even in the city’s central business district, and on holidays, there are few people in the centre of the city. That’s because Canberra is, in many ways, a satellite city: our politicians fly in on weeks when Parliament sits, which ramps up the pulse of taxi drivers and plumps up some of our cafes and bars at peak times, every other week. Many people who live here are not locals. Young people tend to move away, while public servants and academics move their families here for their careers.

I had previously lived in Canberra for six months as part of a secondment for another job, many years ago. I was much younger then and, looking back, I did not really enjoy the city. I mostly spent my free time with groups who knew each other from graduate placements and often talked about work, even at 1 AM outside clubs – which is, by the way, the time that most clubs clubs closed back then (and likely do still). “Did you know he’s still an APS5?” (Australian Public Service Level 5) “He’s never going to be promoted!” I was surrounded by Anglo-Australian people who had little interest in multicultural experiences – having come from a highly multicultural part of Melbourne, this was a big change.

Back then I worked very long hours (and do still but not quite so intense) and, to be honest, I was often tired and I own the fact that I did not make a big effort to get to know the city. This time around, knowing that I’d be here a bit longer, I have gotten to know different types of people and have gone out of my way to get the most out of Canberra, by exploring more of its heart and culture. I aim to bring you a few visual stories of how I reacquainted myself with this city, with a visual sociology series I’m calling, Weekends With a Sociologist.
Weekends with a sociologist

Continue reading Weekends With a Sociologist