Exploring the tough questions

Exploring the tough questions

10 Dec 2010

More than 100 lawyers, historians, social scientists and members of the public will meet in Melbourne next week to discuss history. 

old map and gavlet But this will be no easy amble down memory lane.

Everyone and no one ‘owns’ history, say the organisers of the 29th Australian and New Zealand Law and History Conference, which this year is being convened and supported by La Trobe University.

Hence the right to speak about the past raises highly important and controversial issues, says La Trobe lawyer, Dr Jill Murray.

These include the ‘ethics of representation and remembrance’ and the ‘commoditization and consumption of traumatic pasts’.

For example, who is entitled to benefit from the tragedies and stressful events of others – think countless books, films and a phenomenon described as ‘dark’ (or ‘grief’) tourism?

Other contentious topics deal with Indigenous knowledge, identity politics, citizenship and colonialism.

And what better forum for yet another look at the Breaker Morant case. After more than 100 years, the British government recently decided there was no case to re-open the court martial at which he was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Sydney author of Australia’s Boer War and Red Coat Dreaming, Craig Wilcox, will speak on this at a public session, at 3.30 pm, Wednesday 15 December.

Another public session, at 4.30 pm on Monday, 13 December, will be on ‘Asylum Seekers in Australia: Human Rights, History and Law’.

It will feature Julian Burnside QC, Professor Klaus Neumann from Swinburne University of Technology, and Dr Savitri Taylor from La Trobe University’s Law School.

The conference is being held from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 December at Whitley College, 50 The Avenue, Parkville.

The full program is on: http://www.lawandhistoryconference.org/program/index.html


For further information or help in interviewing speakers, please contact Dr Jill Murray, tel:  (03) 9479 1761 or E: jill.murray@latrobe.edu.au

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