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  • Featured Member Profile: Enqi Weng

    Posted on August 15, 2018

    Today’s featured member profile comes from the brilliant Enqi Weng. Take it away Enqi!

    Member: Enqi Weng

    What are you researching?

    My thesis (currently under examination!) studied religious changes and changing attitudes to religion in Australia through discussions on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A current affairs program. It tracked these changes through a sociological application of the concept of the sacred as a non-negotiable value expressed in religious and secular forms.

     

    What drew you to this topic?

    Religion became a topic of interest for me especially because of how it is brought into, and discussed within, the media. I view media here in a collective sense—as a complex process of engagements between news, entertainment and social media. Being born and raised in Singapore where its mainstream media is controlled for purposes of social harmony, multireligious beliefs are managed by the government through media policies. When I came to Australia in 2010, I was struck by the discourses that were circulated on Islam and Christianity and the depictions of both communities in Australian media. There was a disconnect in my perception and my lived experiences with these communities back home.

    After spending some time working on my minor thesis project at the University of Melbourne then, I came to realise how understudied religion is within academia because of a dominant perspective that religion will one day disappear. Since 9/11, religion has become a topic of interest which has been approached through different disciplines, including media and communication studies.

     

    What have been the highlights of your RhD journey?

    One of the highlights is the number of opportunities I received to be introduced to amazing networks such as the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (AASR) and the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture (ISMRC). The friendships I’ve made and mentors I’ve found through these networks have been invaluable in my formation as a young media and religion scholar.

    The second highlight is my involvement with the “Religion on an Ordinary Day” project. I was introduced to it as a contributor by my supervisor Professor Peter Horsfield. This is a transnational project that examined and compared representations of religion in newspapers from across four global cities. Through this project, I was able to work more closely with the methodology I applied in my thesis. I was also given the opportunity to travel to Ottawa and present at the media workshop as part of my involvement.

     

    What do you wish you had known before you started?

    Because the PhD journey (often) stretches over several years, I’ve learnt that finding a way to manage everything else in your life is pretty crucial. This juggling act often can include the project itself (that requires adaptation to one’s attention and time depending on the stage of the project), other work commitments, finances and emotions. All these factors will vary depending on the season that one’s going through as well. I went to many workshops where presenters from the front are often sending out a singular message—that you should be doing more. But this is quite simply unrealistic. As I look back, my advice to my earlier self would be to be kind to yourself. Be aware of your limitations. Don’t make somebody else’s goals and expectations yours.

     

    What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting postgraduate study?

    There are many but here’s a few to start with! If you’re proposing your own research idea, find a supervisor who is interested. Have a conversation early with them and better yet, see if you can work out a feasible research idea together. Alternatively, find a project that you’re really interested in. It sounds like strange advice—why would you do otherwise? But if you have to stay motivated for a stretch of time, personal interest seems like a good starting point. Also think about why a PhD will benefit your career direction and why you want to invest 3-5 years doing it. Have a rough idea what the light at the end of the tunnel would look like for you.

     

    What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?

    I care deeply about environmental issues and am part of a community initiative that sets up and manages compost bins around my local suburb. I also enjoy gardening and fussing with my growing collection of succulents. Often, I find myself watching one too many crime television show (the Nordic selection on SBS is great!). On the weekends, I like to try out new recipes that remind me of home.

     

    Thanks Enqi! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop me an email at zoei.sutton@flinders.edu.au

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  • Featured Member Profile: Simone Marino

    Posted on July 15, 2018

    Today’s featured member profile comes from the wonderful Simone Marino. Take it away Simone!

    Member: Simone Marino

    What are you researching?

    The Construction and Transmission of Ethnic Identity among Italian-Australians of Calabrian Ancestry across Three Generations. In my sociological study, I investigated 14 families, three generations of people from an Italian background, in the local “Italian community” of Adelaide. By first generation, I mean the immigrants who migrated during the 1950s, the second generation are their children and the third generation are the children of the second generation, who now are in their 20s. I found that the Italian community is very tight knit and it achieves this by regular social networking, religious celebrations, intra-ethnic marriages and family alliances. There is a fluidity of identity across the generations. It seems that being Italian means different things for different generations. Sadly, the first generation perceived to be undesirable when they migrated and the second generation inherited this legacy and tended not to emphasise their Italian-ness. But now, their children show off their ethnic background by ‘performing in a number of intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic contexts’: they might proudly gesticulate, they display specific objects (like golden chains,or driving a vespa or, if they can afford it, an Alfa Romeo car) and they ask their grandparents how to cook Italian food.What was despised by the dominant society in the past then came to be caricaturised, and successively celebrated.

    The main conceptual finding of my study is that  individuals’ ethnic identities appear to be shaped by their ‘institutional positionality’, which is their ethnic perception of ‘being in the world’.   I have coined this term to try to capture the temporal, subjective and spatial dynamics of ethnic-race race relations of individuals and their ontological (in)securities.

     

    What drew you to this topic?

    Do you ever remember those Italian kids at school, with their salami sandwiches who, after their classmates comments, such as: “what’s this stinky stuff?” turned red, perhaps they had changed their names from Giuseppe to Joe, from Pietro to Peter? This got me wondering why, today, their children, at school proudly bring their salami sandwiches and even sell them to their classmates, and how it came to be that they want to be called Giuseppe or Pietro, and to learn from their grandparents how to make a good pizza, how to be Italian. Matters of ethnic identity and integration are extremely relevant to contemporary Australia. My work on the way the Italian presence has evolved can help us integrate our new migrants. The tight knit little Italy community I found is the result of the previous Anglo-Australian racism. Once an ethnicity is perceived positively, migrants can not only keep their ethnic identity and feel part of mainstream Australian society, but they can add an extra dimension of their dolce vita.

     

    What have been the highlights of your RhD journey?

    After my first six months of working formally with the community holding 30 one hour interviews I found I was accepted as “one of them”, and was delighted to receive invitations to 4 weddings 3 christenings, 3 funerals and a number of engagement parties. Over a period of three or more years, I immersed myself in the community spending up to 20 or 30 hours a week with the families, taking careful notes after my meetings, and learning to understand their culture and experience.

     

    What do you wish you had known before you started?

    I should have been more aware that the structure and style of academic writing might be different between English and Italian. However, I am eagerly keen to learn and to challenge my position.

     

    What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting postgraduate study?

    I feel so ignorant to give advice to other colleagues. However, in my opinion, students who have just begun, or are contemplating starting a postgraduate study, must be very motivated. They also must love what they are researching, and must have the vice to read a lot! It is important to have days off. Most importantly, take notes whenever they believe they have found a key concept. Further, I found out that it is very beneficial to share your thoughts with colleagues, friends, and all possible audiences which may not be academic. By telling your ideas to others, your thoughts become clearer and organised.

     

    What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?

    When I am not researching, I teach Sociology of Migration, Intercultural Communication and Italian Studies. In my free time, I like playing guitar, singing, doing karate, and when it’s possible travelling across Australia.

     

    Thanks Simone! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop me an email at zoei.sutton@flinders.edu.au

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  • Call for Papers – Language, Culture and BELONGING symposium (LCBS2018)

    Posted on June 25, 2018

    A one-day interdisciplinary symposium hosted by the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research (GCSCR), Griffith University, Australia.

    Griffith University, South Bank campus
    September 26, 2018

    The desire to ‘belong’ is a central and arguably universal characteristic of human society. The purpose of this symposium is to build connections between researchers interested in better understanding the links between language, culture and belonging.

    This one-day symposium will feature two Keynotes, by Professor Norma Mendoza-Denton (UCLA) and Dr Brady Robards (Monash). In addition to the Keynote sessions, the symposium will be organised into three Panels, loosely themed around Words, Sounds and the Body, respectively. Panels will involve a series of papers and open discussion.

    Panels will take a speed talk format. The organising committee selected this particular model to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue at the event. This format is known to promote more vigorous discussion. We tailored this design to support the quality publication outcomes we intend to pursue post-symposium.

    We welcome papers from researchers in any discipline and field, including but not limited to: linguistics, communication studies, cultural sociology, cultural semantics, discourse analysis, gender and queer studies, linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics. Papers may focus on, but are not restricted to: accents and speech styles, body art and clothing, creative and performing arts, cultural key words, dance, DIY and prosumer culture, globalisation and diaspora, humour styles, shopping and consumption, sport, recreation and hobbies, ‘in-group talk’, narrative and story-telling, tourism and leisure, virtual communities and identities, work and employment.

    ***

    The Australian Sociological Association is supporting this event, offering one TASA Postgraduate Bursary (up to $300) for travel and accommodation costs. Eligible postgraduates will have an accepted abstract for this event and be a current member of TASA.

    For judging, eligible candidates will be contacted by email to complete a short paragraph statement addressing the following bursary criteria. When submitting an abstract via the EasyChair submission portal, please indicate if you are eligible for this bursary.

    TASA Postgraduate Bursary criteria (/100):
    > Significance of research to the symposium theme (/25)
    > Location/distance from the event (/25)
    > Financial hardship and/or care responsibilities (where these impact on ability to pay for event) (/25)
    > Commitment to TASA (ie years of membership) (/25)

    The bursary will be judged by members of the LCBS2018 organising committee and the TASA Postgraduate Portfolio Leader and Subcommittee.

    In conjunction with this symposium, TASA is also running a workshop on Thursday September 27 – ‘Behind the Scenes: How to Run Academic Events and Organise Collaborative Publishing.’ This workshop is aimed at postgraduates and ECRs, and is free for TASA members. For more info see postgraduates.tasa.org.au/events/BTS.

    ***

    For LCBS2018, Please submit an abstract of 200-250 words (excluding references) here. The submission portal will open on June 1st. You will need to create an EasyChair account or log in to your existing account to submit your abstract.

    The deadline for abstracts is 30 June 2018. The abstract should include a clearly-stated research question or topic, a statement about framework, method or data, and main results or conclusions. Please keep references to a minimum but provide full bibliographic information.

    The Organising Committee will attempt to ensure that accepted papers reflect a diversity of approaches and a balance of presenters from different career stages.

    You will be notified of the outcome of your abstract submission by 15 August 2018.

    All presenters are required to submit a full version of their paper (2,000-3,000 words) by 12 September 2018 for pre-circulation to other speakers.

    See the full call for papers here.

     

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