Three states in Australia are presently under a strict COVID-19 lockdown: New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. New South Wales is experiencing a major Delta variant outbreak, which is highly contagious. It has spread to the other states through working-class workers, who do not have the luxury of working from home. Similarly to what happened in the harsh Melbourne lockdown in 2020, residents in migrant communities have been placed into a tougher lockdown relative to others, even as they are required to continue working, and submit to COVID testing every three days (“surveillance testing”).
In Episode 3 of Race in Society (video below), Associate Professor Alana Lentin and I lead a panel about how mainstream media create sensationalist accounts of the pandemic, and the proactive ways in which Aboriginal people and Asian people in particular lead their own responses. We spoke with Dr Summer May Finlay, a Yorta Yorta woman and Public Health Researcher at the Universities of Wollongong and Canberra. In our video below, she details how Aboriginal community controlled health organisations have effectively dealt with COVID-19 using social marketing campaigns. We also chatted with Dr Karen Schamberger, an independent curator and historian. She covers the history of Australian sinophobia (the fear of China, its people and or its culture), and how anti-Chinese racism plays out in media reports on racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. This issue remains pertinent, given that the suburbs currently under strict lockdown in Sydney have relatively large Asian populations.
Even though we filmed this discussion 10 months ago, the commentary illuminates the current COVID-19 crisis.
In Episode 2 of Race in Society, Associate Professor Alana Lentin and I are joined by Jill Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), who are leading COVID-19 pandemic responses in Victoria. She discusses how the pandemic amplifies existing health and social inequalities. Also on the panel is sociologist, Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson, who is Professor of Indigenous Research at RMIT University, and author of countless critical race books, including, ‘The White Possessive‘. She demonstrates how her theorisation of Aboriginal sovereignty disrupts how the pandemic is currently understood. Finally, we also speak with sociologist Dr Debbie Bargallie, Senior research fellow at Griffith University, and author of the excellent new release, ‘Unmasking the Racial Contract: Indigenous voices on racism in the Australian Public Service.’ She talks about how Aboriginal people are excluded from social policy, which has compounded poor decision-making on public health during the pandemic.
Associate Professor Alana Lentin and I are both sociologists and we’ve launched a new webseries called “Race in Society.” The first season is dedicated to “Race and COVID-19.” In this first episode, we cover the inspiration for the series and why we are focusing on the pandemic.
In the video below, Alana explains how our idea for Race in Society came about. We were noticing an increased interest in critical race studies among academics, students, and the broader public. Much of this discussion replicates ideas of race from North America, which is not necessarily applicable to Australia.
My trip to New Zealand Aotearoa was lovely. I was a guest of the Women in Science group, the New Zealand Association of Scientists and various other partner and sponsor agencies. In Wellington, I gave a talk about gender equity and diversity. I discussed how intersectionality can be used in various national models of change, to increase the number of minorities and White women in leadership positions. I also addressed some considerations for creating a more inclusive research culture that draws leadership from Indigenous scientists. I then joined a panel of distinguished academics to further discuss diversity in the local context.
Most of my trip in New Zealand was spent at the University of Auckland. I gave a talk on intersectionality and the March for Science as well as attending various meetings providing advice and listening to progress and thinking on inclusion in science. The campus is stunning. This is the inside of the Clock Tower, an impressive tall, white building with beautiful architecture.
Being Chinese in Aotearoa: A Photographic Journey. This is a stunning and informative history of migration. It documents difficulties and triumphs in the face of ongoing racism. Highly recommend visiting if you’re in New Zealand Aotearoa. On the left you can see Appo Hocton (Ah Poo Hoc Ting), who arrived in his 20s, in 1842, to become the first documented Chinese-New Zealander. Continue reading Being Chinese in Aotearoa
At the Corsini Collection: A Window on Renaissance, at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki. The Corsini family settled in Florence in tge 13th Century and had a stranglehold of power in banking, trade and Government. They had ties to the strongest families in Florence, the Medici (there’s an excellent social network analysis article that documents how families used their social ties to maintain influence). The Corsini also had strong religious capital, with tge cardinals, one Pope and one saint in the family. The latter is seen at the end here – Saint Andrea Corsini. There are two bullet wounds in the painting, which was painted in 1630, and hidden behind a safe wall in 1944. A soldier shot through the wall, noticing fresh plaster.
This is the Rocks Discovery Museum. It’s interesting historically as the artefacts tell the story of Sydney prior to European invasion. But it’s more fascinating sociologically – in how this history is represented. The first room you see (“Warrane. Pre-1788”) uses words like “arrival” and “first contact” to describe the relationship between colonialists and traditional custodians of Sydney, the Gadigal people. The second room (“Colony. 1788-1830”) uses words like “settlement” and “colony” prominently… but not *colonialism.* The word “invasion” only appears on a side panel – this display is excellent, reflecting on British treatment of Aboriginal people as a “catastrophe.”
For the past three years, I’ve written about the gender and race dynamics of the chosen portraits, painted by children up to the age of 18 for the The Young Archibald Prize (the “Young Archie”). Most of the subjects are women, especially mothers. Few artists and subjects are people of colour. This year, while mothers, grandmothers and sisters feature, described for their caring qualities, I was delighted to see a handful of works by and about Asian Australians. Remarkably, two of these paintings, one by a nine year old and another by a 16 year old, explicitly depicted themes of death in terms of acceptance and wonder. Truly wonderful.