UWS-logo‘Boat People’: The Long History of Immigration in Australia

University of Western Sydney, Parramatta Campus, 12‐13 June 2014

Convenors: Jayne Persian (University of Wollongong) and Kate Matthew (University of Western Sydney)

Keynote speaker: Klaus Neumann, Swinburne University of Technology

Discussion Panel: How does the long view of immigration history in Australia contribute to the current debate?

Panellists: Ann Mari Jordens; Ruth Balint, University of New South Wales; Denise Phillips, University of New England; Robert Mason, University of Southern Queensland.

Discussant: David Burchall, University of Western Sydney.

Immigration, and particularly what to do about refugees and ‘asylum seekers’, is a hotbutton topic in Australian politics, encapsulated by the phrase ‘stop the boats’. What is missing from the polemic is a sense of the long history of various types of immigration to this country. As an island nation, everyone from the First Peoples onwards arrived by boat right up until the Ten Pound Poms arrived in the 1960s. Some ‘asylum seekers’ still arrive by boat. What is needed is a reframing, and contextualisation, of the current debate as the latest iteration of an ongoing cultural conversation.

This conference will explore the long history of immigration in Australia, focused around the theme of ‘Boat People’, through papers given by academic and public history researchers within this field. The convenors welcome papers exploring any of the issues around immigration, asylum seekers and refugees, including Indigenous and pre-contact exposures, international and domestic political contexts, experiences of people entering the country, responses by those already here to the new arrivals, and issues surrounding representation, memory and commemoration, as well as papers speaking directly to the current debate from a historical perspective.

The convenors intend to publish a selection of the best papers from the conference as a special edition of a high quality, peer-reviewed journal that will help take this debate to a wider audience. We wish to invite abstracts for individual papers and panel sessions. Each presenter will have 20 minutes to present followed by 10 minutes discussion time.

Please submit abstracts (500 words) and a short biography (200 words) by Friday, 21 February 2014 by email to k.matthew@uws.edu.au.

Please note that there will be a small registration fee for the conference. Registrations will open in mid-March 2014.

Any questions regarding the conference can be directed to:
Kate Matthew: k.matthew@uws.edu.au  |  Jayne Persian: jpersian@uow.edu.au

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