InASA 2020 Biennial Conference: Reinventing Australia

InASA 2020: Reinventing Australia
Image credit: Jamie Davies, Unsplash

COVID-19 update from the President of InASA:

We are pleased to announce that the InASA biennial conference will still go ahead, but on the revised dates of 8-10 February 2021.

Given the pandemic is still unfolding, we will continue to monitor the situation. We still advise interested participants not to make any travel arrangements because there is the possibility that we will have to cancel the conference altogether. However, we are hopeful that the February dates will be able to go ahead.

With the new conference dates, we have reopened the call for papers with the new abstract deadline of 31 August. We also invite applicants for the postgraduate bursary scheme by 30 August. Details about abstracts and the postgraduate bursaries are available on the conference website.

The School of Arts of the Australian Catholic University is delighted to host the International Australian Studies Association (InASA) biennial conference this year.

Reinventing Australia

8 - 10 February 2021,  ACU Melbourne Campus

What does it mean to ‘be Australian’? In his 1981 book, Inventing Australia, Richard White argued that Australian identity drew from a pastiche of icons – the convict, the digger, the surf lifesaver, the bushranger and the wide-open spaces of the outback. White argued that these ideals were devised to promote an egalitarian myth of the ‘lucky country’, while serving a set of elite interests. There is no ‘“real” Australia’, White argued, just a continual fracturing, questioning and redefinition of national identity as powerful interests compete for authority. It is now nearly forty years since Inventing Australia was published. In this time, Australia’s demography has been changed by high rates of non-European immigration. We have seen multiculturalism as official policy go in and out of favour, an uneven and patchy reconciliation process between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples, and the entrenchment of a punitive border policy regime. The Anzac legend, with its echoes of a British-Australia that no longer exists, has been reinstated as the premier national mythology, as the nation faces new challenges, including climate change and an escalating American-Sino trade war. This conference poses the question Richard White asked in 1981, taking account of the transformations that have occurred in Australian society, the interests that seek to promote particular versions of ‘Australianness’, and the desire of members of an ‘imagined community’, such as Australia, to shape and define their essence.

InASA 2020 welcome papers on topics relating to Australian Studies broadly defined, including those which relate Australia to connected global histories, movements, trends, international relations and ideas. Some possible themes include:

  • Australian and transnational histories
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous Studies
  • Literature
  • Cinema Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Art, music and creative practices
  • Law
  • Sociology
  • Race
  • Immigration
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Class
  • Multiculturalism
  • Politics and International Relations
  • Indo-Pacific
  • Memory and Heritage

Abstracts of 150 words and a short biography of 75 words should be submitted by 31 August 2020. Please ensure that your submission is in Times New Roman, single-spaced, font size 12.

Keynote Speakers

Irene Watson belongs to the Tanganekald, Meintangk – Bunganditj Peoples of the Coorong and south-east of South Australia and has been an advocate and activist for First Nations land rights and self-determination for many years. Irene has worked as a legal practitioner and academic. She has publishextensively on questions of Aboriginal Peoples rights and colonialism (Routledge 2015) Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law and (Routledge 2018) Indigenous Peoples as Subjects in International Law. Irene is currently Professor of Law, PVC Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy at the University of South Australia.

Tim Soutphommasane is Professor of Practice (Sociology and Political Theory) and Director, Culture Strategy at the University of Sydney. A political theorist and human rights advocate, from 2013 to 2018 Tim was Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner. His thinking on patriotism, multiculturalism and national identity has been influential in debates in Australia and Britain. He is the author of five books: On Hate (2019), I’m Not Racist But … (2015), Don’t Go Back To Where You Came From (2012), The Virtuous Citizen (2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (2009). He is also the co-editor (with Nick Dyrenfurth) of All That’s Left (2010). Tim is a regular columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, co-chairs the Screen Diversity Inclusion Network and is a member of the advisory board of Media Diversity Australia. He was the founding Chair of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity and has served on the boards of the National Australia Day Council and the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership.

Probably the last historian appointed to an Australian university without a PhD, Richard White taught Australian History and the History of Travel and Tourism at the University of Sydney for almost 25 years until he retired in 2013. His publications include Inventing Australia (1981), On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia (2005), Symbols of Australia (co-edited with Melissa Harper, 2010) and some 60 articles and chapters. Since retirement, his achievements have included a dry-stone wall, a wisteria walk and a flight of garden steps. Richard will showcase a special panel celebrating the publication of a new edition of his co-edited collection, Symbols of Australia.

Conference committee

InASA 2020 Conference Convener
Noah Riseman (ACU)

InASA 2020 Conference Committee
Alexis Bergantz (RMIT)
Rachel Busbridge (ACU)
Gilbert Caluya (Deakin)
Lorinda Cramer (ACU)
Ken Gelder (UniMelb)
Carolyn Holbrook (Deakin)
Julie Kimber (Swinburne)
Nell Musgrove (ACU)
Hannah Robert (La Trobe)

Postgraduate bursary

InASA 2020 is pleased to continue offering the InASA Postgraduate Bursary Scheme to assist higher degree by research students to attend InASA 2020 at ACU Melbourne.

Apply for travel bursary

Early Career Researcher workshop

InASA 2020 will be hosting a special workshop for Early Career Researchers.

Learn more


ACU Melbourne is located at 115 Victoria Parade in Fitzroy, a short walk or tram ride from the eastern end of Melbourne’s CBD. There are numerous accommodation options catering to all price ranges which attendees can book in the CBD, Fitzroy or East Melbourne. The following is a list of some of the closest options to the campus. This is not an endorsement or preference for these accommodation options.

Melbourne Metropole Hotel
Quest Royal Gardens
Tribeca Serviced Apartments
Park Hyatt Melbourne
City Centre Budget Hotel
Quest on Lonsdale





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Updated:  1 July 2020/Responsible Officer:  Institute Manager/Page Contact:  Institute Manager