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Research projects


‘Cultural Vitality: Measuring the return on investment of local government funded arts, culture and heritage programs on the Sunshine Coast’ 2016–2017
Associate Professor Lisa Chandler

ARCH leader Associate Professor Lisa Chandler, together with Dr Trudie Walters from the Faculty of Business and Claudia Di Blasi, Manager Community Relations, Sunshine Coast Council (SCC), has attained a USC-Sunshine Coast Council Collaboration Grant ($22,130) to develop a means of identifying the social and cultural value of Council-funded arts, culture and heritage programs. The project also involves designing a cohesive evaluation strategy and measurement tool for the continual improvement of Council-funded offerings in this space. The array of public arts and culture-related activity that communities support as significant aspects of daily life, collectively contributes to the ‘cultural vitality’ of the region. This project seeks to better understand the contribution of Council programs to perceptions of cultural vitality. It contributes to understandings of the impact of the creative and cultural industries within communities and the ways in which Council is meeting its Corporate Plan goal of building ‘a strong community’. The collaboration aligns strategic visions of USC and SCC to support and improve University, Council and community partnerships. The collaboration will enable USC researchers to work with Council to deliver applied research findings with benefits for the wider community.

Anticipatory Imaginaries: Dialogues between academic research and the creative imagination
Dr Marcus Bussey, Associate Professor Lisa Chandler and Professor Gary Crew

Marcus, Lisa and Gary collaborated with Curtin University colleague Rachel Robertson on an interdisciplinary project, resulting in a special issue of Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses.

The project, ‘Anticipatory Imaginaries’, combines rigorous academic or scientific enquiry with creative expression in a series of collaborative articles. It presents dialogues between expert knowledge on futures-oriented global issues and creative responses that reframe these issues. Through engaged dialogue between academic experts, social scientists and creative practitioners, sound engineers and visual artists the editors sought to address the gap between the production of researched ‘knowledge’ and the dissemination and acceptance of such ‘knowledge’ by the general public. Articles in this issue explore the communicative possibilities of interdisciplinary encounters between researchers in a specific discipline and creative writers.

The editors argue that ‘any engagement with our present, in the light of the future, calls upon an anticipatory aesthetic in which the imagination is a key producer of foresight, hope and a range of possibilities.’ 

Along with the editors, contributors to the special issue include other ARCH members Shelley Davidow, Paul Williams, Ross Watkins and Ginna Brock.

Shadow Sisters - A haunting memoir
Dr Shelley Davidow

Shelley Davidow’s recently published memoir Shadow Sisters is set against a back drop of racism and violence. Although illegal during South Africa’s Apartheid era, Shelley’s family took in an abandoned little black girl, Rosie, and raised her as a beloved family member. When Rosie was sixteen tragic events occur that shatter the family’s understanding of the past. Shadow Sisters has received wide acclaim and was number 8 on the bestseller list for a number of weeks.

The Sydney Morning Herald: "Davidow's memoir is not only a vivid, stark and resonant reminder of those days, but a rites-of-passage tale about growing up in the midst of violence … – as well as experiencing the pangs of first love."

Elizabeth McKenzie, best-selling author of The Portable Veblen: "Shelley Davidow distills the tragedies of a nation down to the relationships within her very home."

Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses and The Jump-off Creek: "Davidow sifts through memories like a mystery detective, seeking truth and, if possible, reconciliation, as she searches also for her place in the world. This is a lyrical, thought-provoking memoir, breathtaking in its honesty, one of the bravest, truest you will ever find." 

Fraser Island Dingo - courtesy of Bill Carter

The Iconic Dingo: Valuing their future on K’gari-Fraser Island 2015–2016
Dr Clare Archer-Lean

Clare Archer-Lean leads this research project with an inter-disciplinary team of humanities and communication researchers: Jen Carter and Umi Khattab (from USC) and Angela Wardell-Johnson (Curtin). The research project explores both the pattern of human dingo incidents in the past and the present views of various stakeholders and interests concerning dingoes. Dingoes are valued in diverse ways that make understanding the dingo’s position in the natural and social environment contested and often confusing. The research will identify and capture these various conflicting values and positions. This project also aims to provide insight into this pattern of sociocultural values in order to assist QPWS communication planning. The project is supported by funding from Queensland’s Department of Information Technology, Science, Innovation and the Arts: Fraser Island Dingo Research Program (A$24,527).

The Next Big Thing! - Poetry and cultural theory
Dr Marcus Bussey

Marcus Bussey's book The Next Big Thing, published by Studera Press, explores life through the medium of poetry. Its range is broad and eclectic, yet its focus is on the relational, embodied and aesthetic dimension of the human condition. The poetry is frequently playful, drawing on layers of intercultural metaphor and deep memory and mixing these in creative and surprising configurations. The mystic element of Bussey’s thinking is mixed with his deep engagement with cultural theory and embodied experiences which work across boundaries and trespass into domains taboo to those committed to intellectual and aesthetic purity. These poems cross a period of almost 30 years; the Clare and Francis series follow in the model of Eastern and Western traditions of ecstatic love dialogues; whilst the concluding meditation on poetic relationship is a mixture of insights peppered with the poetry of others.

The overall intent is to celebrate theory and experience through the poetic lens.

East Coast Encounter exhibition 2014–2017
Associate Professor Lisa Chandler

Associate Professor Chandler is co-curator, with John Waldron, of the award winning exhibition East Coast Encounter (ECE). The exhibition incorporates a three-year touring exhibition (2014-2017), publication and DVD re-imagining James Cook’s 1770 Australian journey and its impact, from Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. Cook’s voyage has become central to national historical narratives and ECE re-envisages this seminal journey by imaginatively exploring moments of contact between two worldviews during these encounters. It brings these events into the present by incorporating artists’ reflections on their relevance today, and their responses to visits to significant contact locations and meetings with Indigenous communities. The exhibition shifts the focus from a primarily Eurocentric perspective to present a shared story, visualised by Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from multiple perspectives and in various media. It presents a new translation of an old Badtjala song referring to Cook’s passing of K’gari-Fraser Island, and it highlights the historically under-represented area of Indigenous watercraft and the revival of cultural knowledge in this domain. ECE has been undertaken with industry partners Blue Sky View and the Australian National Maritime Museum. It received a Gallery and Museum Achievement Award in 2015 and the exhibition has been acquired in its entirety by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

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