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Professor James Clifford in Melbourne


Professor James Clifford is MacGeorge Fellow at the University of Melbourne in September-October 2014











James Clifford is Emeritus Professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. Clifford is the author of several widely cited and translated books, including The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (1988), Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late 20th Century(1997), and Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty First Century (2013). He was co-editor (with George Marcus) of the widely influential collection Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (1986).

He will be presenting a public lecture, seminar and postgraduate workshop during his visit. Thanks to Associate Professor Tammy Kohn for organising Professor Clifford’s visit and these events.

Public Lecture – Art and Ethnography in the Post-Western Museum

There are two principal avenues through which the material creations of non-Western peoples have gained recognition and value in the cultural centers of Europe and North America. One avenue can be called “culture,” the other “art.” Much has been written to criticize this sorting mechanism, and in practice a variety of hybrid museum spaces are opening up. Yet despite the decentering pressures of decolonization and globalization, long-established categories change unevenly: the “two museums” persist.

This talk explores shifting institutional relations between art and ethnography in contemporary metropolitan contexts. The relative vitality and prestige of the two traditions is assessed with examples drawn from museological innovations in Vancouver, Berlin, and Paris. What is gained and lost in the increasing pressure to represent “global arts and cultures?” What prospects for serious cross-cultural translation can be found in the emerging forms of collecting, programming, and marketing diversity?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 | 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Theatre 230
234 Queensberry Street
The University of Melbourne

Seminar - Country Musics or, The Indigenizing Imagination

I begin with the observation that North American country songs, performance and instrumental styles are very popular in communities we call, variously, tribal, native, First Nations, Aboriginal. I suggest why this is so, exploring the dynamics of transmission, reception, and localization that are at work. “Indigenous” and “country”—the words name complex structures of feeling, responses to often violent social and economic change. The two discourses overlap but are not identical.  I argue that they form an articulated cluster of vernacular imaginings, an expressive site that belongs to no group or region. Country musics have been globalizing–spreading, translating and commodifying—at least since the dissemination of radios and guitars in the early 20th Century. They invite serious cross-cultural and historical study.

Friday, 24 September 2014 | 5:30pm – 7pm 
Babel Building 106 (Middle Theatrette)
The University of Melbourne
Postgraduate Workshop
James Clifford will elaborate on some of the issues touched on briefly in the Prologue to his recent book: Returns: Becoming Indigenous on the 21st Century –for example the question of “realism,” the (im)possibility of self-historicising, and the future of reading and the “book.” A wide-ranging discussion will follow.
For more information, including the pre-published book chapters, please have a look/read from his website:

Friday, 26 September 2014 | 2.00pm – 4.00pm
John Medley Building 4th Floor Linkway Room
The University of Melbourne
NB – Places very limited


Professor Marc Augé in Melbourne

Professor Marc Augé is visiting the University of Melbourne on Friday December 13th, 2013 for an exclusive one day symposium where he will present some of his latest work in English and French.

Professor Augé is one of France’s leading public intellectuals. His work has revolutionized his primary discipline of anthropology and serves as a key point of reference for work in the humanities and social sciences, architecture and beyond. He is the author of dozens of books including Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthropology of SupermodernityIn the Metro and L’Expérience des images (with Umberto Eco and Georges Didi-Huberman). In 2008 the journal L’Homme dedicated an entire edition to his work. Having studied at the École Normale Supérieure, Augé spent much of his career at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales where he served as President and taught alongside Derrida, Bourdieu, and other ground-breaking thinkers of our times.

The “A Day with Augé” symposium is designed to offer academics, researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students from all disciplines and institutions the opportunity to discuss the ways they engage with Professor Marc Augé’s writing and ideas.

The morning will be dedicated to a series of panels comprising succinct contributions from participants, presenting their uses and/or critiques of Professor Augé’s work. These contributions will be curated thematically, allowing interactive time for those who wish to react, discuss, debate. Please email Jackie Dutton with your contribution proposal (50 words) before 30 November

A lunchtime lecture (1-2pm) by Professor Augé on “Architecture and Non-Places” will be followed by questions and discussion.

The afternoon will include a presentation in French by Professor Augé on
“L’âge, le temps et la mémoire”, followed by further discussion and refreshments.

To attend and/or participate in these events, please register at the following sites:

“A Day with Augé” symposium including lunchtime public lecture

“Architecture and Non-Places” public lecture only

“L’âge, le temps et la mémoire” présentation en français

Photo courtesy of Knulp Malevich

Travel Ideals: engaging with spaces of mobility

The Pursuit of the Ideal in Travel Writing, Cultural Tourism and Mobility Studies’ is a project of The Travel Research Network at the University of Melbourne – click here for more details