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Rhonda L. Evans, Director HRC 3.137, Mailcode F1900, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-9607
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NEWSLETTER NO. 22         FALL 2000
THE EDWARD A. CLARK CENTER FOR AUSTRALIAN STUDIES
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

 

Center Participates in Deliberative Poll on Reconciliation

How to achieve reconciliation between Australia's indigeneous and non-indigenous peoples is a question at the forefront of the country's political and social agenda. It received much media attention during the Sydney Olympics, and debates about the Stolen Generation, possible treaties with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, and a host of other Reconciliation issues continue to make headlines daily.

Under the leadership of Dr. Pam Ryan, research associate of the Clark Center and director of Issues Deliberation Australia, the Center is helping to organize a national deliberative poll on "Reconciliation for the 21st Century - Where From Here?"  The deliberative polling technique is the invention of Prof. James Fishkin in UT-Austin's Dept. of Government.  It has been employed some twenty times in several countries, most recently this past August in advance of Denmark's referendum on adopting the Euro.  Last year the Center played a key role in organizing the first deliberative poll in Australia, on the republic referendum.  That poll's impact on how Australians thought about the republic issue has led Dr. Ryan to mount this new effort.

As was the case last year, a statistically random sample of Australian voters, numbering approximately 350, will be brought to Old Parliment House in Canberra for two days of nationally-televised deliberations about Reconciliation issues, 16-18 February 2001.  To ensure that their diverse views are articulated as fully as possible, Aborigines and Torres Straight Islanders will be oversampled so that their number at the Canberra gathering will be proportionately much greater than their two percent share of the population.

In addition, the geographic diversity of views about Reconciliation among indigenous and non-indigenous citizens is prompting several "micro" polls that are dotted around the country and being held in advance of the national poll in Canberra.  The first micro poll took place in Port Augusta at the end of October, and participants in the micro poll will be reassembled and linked by satellite to the Canberra gathering next February.

Upon arriving in Canberra particpants will be organized into twenty small discussion groups for face-to-face deliberations about what Reconciliation means, what has worked and not worked at regional and national levels, and what strategies and measures should now be adopted.  These small-group discussions will alternate with three plenary sessions at which the partipants will put their questions to a range of govenment and organization leaders who are prominent in the Reconciliation debates.

As was the case with the deliberative poll on the republic referendum, this new poll should attract wide media coverage and substantial television and radio audiences so that many Australians will be able to ponder how a representative group of their fellow citizens size up the complex Reconciliation issues.

The Clark Center is helping to prepare the briefing paper that each participant will receive in advance of the Canberra gathering, as well as the public opinion polling questions that will be administered, in identical form, to participants before and after their deliberations.  Dr. Higley, Frances Cushing and two graduate students affiliated with the Center, Rhonda Evans Case and Jason Pierce, will go to Canberra during February to help Dr. Ryan conduct the deliberative poll.
 
 

 Message from the Director

The summer and fall months have brought a rash of movements by scholars associated with the Center and with Australian Studies more broadly in North America.  The Center has lost two cherished colleagues, Bob Cushing to retirement and Robert Ross to Germany, while another, Frank Poyas, has moved back to Texas after many years in Australia and at the former Penn State Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies.

Having taught in UT-Austin's sociology department during much of the 1990's, during which time he was a key figure in the Center's large project on NAFTA's implications for Australia and New Zealand, Bob Cushing opted for the greater freedoms of retirement from this past August.  Now untrammeled by Center and departmental duties, Bob is conducting a series of probing analyses of Texas' huge demographic and economic shifts, and these appear frequently as special reports in The Austin American Statesman newspaper.  Meanwhile, Robert Ross no sooner laid down his Center cudgels than his wife, Anita, was transferred by Sweden's Ericsson Corporation from their high-tech Dallas operation to their counterpart facility in Aachen, Germany.  In early September, Robert and Anita established digs there, and Robert is now making the most of his new location to serve as the Center's "European Bureau Chief" - see his initial dispatch in this issue!

Also in September, Frank Poyas began a stint as historian-in-residence at the U.S. Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he and Anica are now sampling the River Walk's delights on a regular basis.  FRank was a full-time staff member of the Clark Center during its first two years before going off to the Univ. of Sydney to do a Ph.D. in Australian History.  After returning to the U.S. and to Penn State, he did much valuable work for ASANA and the wider Australian Studies effort, and I trust that he's not under the delusion that he can escape being roped back into such work now that he's in our immediate vicinity.

Speaking of proximity to the Center, Dr. Angie Sauer, on of ASANA's sparkplugs when she was teaching at the Univ. of Winnipeg, has not joined the faculty of Texas Lutheran University, which is loced in Seguin, a scant 40 miles from Austin.  We intend to appoint Angie as a Center research associate so that we can draw on her expertise and enthusiasm about all things Australian.

Farther a field from Texas, a major setback for Australian Studies has been the departure of both John Wells and Lisa Murphy from the Australian Education Office (AEO) at the Washington Embassy.  John moved to Beaver College in Philadelphia where he's director of Beaver's far-flung international studies program.  Lisa has moved to a new Washington office established by Australia's International Development Program (IDP).  While at the AEO, John and Lisa performed yeoman service for ASANA and they both took a deep interest in the Clark Center over a long period.  Their new jobs leave all of us in Australian Studies much the poorer.

One more (partial) move that's in the offing involves myself.  From the start of the next academic year I'll serve for four years as Chair of UT-Austin's Dept. of Government, which, with fifty teaching staff and more than a thousand undergraduate and a hundred graduate students, is a quite large and complex operation.  At least for the next year or two, I expect to continue as director of the Clark Center, but a certain girding of the loins in necessary if I'm to perform the two jobs simultaneously.

 

John Higley                                                              
 
 

 
Graduate Student Research

Three UT-Austin doctoral students, all in the Dept. of Government, are engaged in dissertation research on Australian topics.

Jason Pierce, accompanied by his wife Emily, returned in June from a year-long study of Australia's senior judiciary and its changing role in Australian politics.  As a 1999-2000 Fulbright Fellow in ANU's Faculty of Law, Jason traveled with Center research funding to all capital cities to conduct interviews with more than a hundred eminent judges and lwayers, and he is now writing chapters and papers drawing on his rich data.  He'll return to Australia during February to interview the handful of judges who were unable to meet with him last year.

Rhonda Evans Case is a visiting scholar at ANU's Research School of Social Sciences during the current North American academic year.  She's conducting a comparative study of how Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are adapting politically to the several international Human Rights conventions that each country has signed, with particular reference to the policies and politics that surround relations between indigenous and non-indigenous populations.  While en route to Canberra, Rhonda spent several weeks in Auckland and Wellington to get a sense of the New Zealand political situation, and she will return there as a visiting scholar at Victoria University's School of Law early in the new year.  She plans to conduct the Canadian portion of her research next summer.

Greg Brown is preparing for further research in Melbourne and Sydney on how relations between the Croat and Serb communities and between them, the Australian Government and homeland governments in Zagreb and Belgrade have unfolded in recent years.  Drawing on preliminary research that he conducted with Center support during summer 1999, Greg has just published an article in the Australian journal, People and Place, analyzing aspects of these complex and potentially violatile relations.


2001 ASANA Conference Set for Georgetown

The Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University will host the annual ASANA conference on the last weekend of February 2001.  Dick Teare, director of the Georgetown Center, and his administrative assistant, Grace Tompkins, are now arranging facilities for a conference that should be the largest yet.

At this writing, Kim Nossal, president of ASANA, has received more than a dozen paper proposals, and Dick Teare is enlisting half a dozen Washington-based specialists to speak on security and trade issues pertaining to Australia and to its relations with North America.  Other panels will deal with Reconiciliation and Indigenous Land Issues, Australian Politics, Immigration Policies, and Australian Studies.

ASANA's recent practice of concentrating its annual meeting activities on a single hotel to maximize members' discussions and exchanges will be observed this year also.  All sessions, a reception, and the conference dinner will take place at or in the immediate vicinity of the Holiday Inn located in Georgetown's center.  Registration forms can be downloaded at the www.utexas.edu/depts/cas/asana2001cover.html ASANA 2001 Conference Info page.


American-Australian Chamber of Commerce in Houston
This body of business and professional leaders of Australian and American companies based in Houston continues to increase its activities, spurred by the appointment of Nana Booker as Australian Honorary Counsel.  In early October, Dr. Higley gave a luncheon address to the group to take stock on Australian political and economic outlooks after the Sydney Olympics.  A few days after Dr. Higley's visit, Nana Booker and her husband left for Australia with the aim of further bolstering Houston as a focal point of commerical relations between Australia and the U.S.

Center Visitors
Barbara McDonald, from the University of Sydney Law School, is teaching courses on tort and giving a seminar on professional liabilities in the UT-Austin School of Law this fall sememster.  Accompanying Barbara McDonald, so to speak, are eight Australian law students on exchange to UT-Austin's School of Law from the Univ. of Melbourne (2), the ANU (3), UNSW (2) and the Univ. of Sydney (1).

Kay Schaffer, from the Univ. of Adelaide, arrived in Austin in late October for a two-month residency at the Center.  Kay immediately delivered a well-received paper to a major UT-Austin Women's Studies conference about women and sport, and she is working on a book, co-authored with Center associate D'Arcy Randall, about captivity narratives in Australia and the United States.

Bruce Dennett, a high school teacher in Sydney who received a grand from the NSW government to studey aspects of the modern American presidency, visited the Center in mid-November while working at the LBJ Presidential Library.

Terry Loomis, Professor of Development Studies in the School of Maori and Pacific Development at Waikato University in New Zealand, will be at the LBJ School and the Center during January.

Ross Terrill Returns from Australia and China
Ross Terrill, a Center research associate and a Visting Professor in UT-Austin's Dept. of Government these past three years, will again teach about Australian affairs during the coming spring semester.  In addition to his regularly-taught course on Australian Society and Politics, Ross will offer a large introductory course dealing with The United States and East Asia, in which Australia's relations with the two sides of the Pacific will figure prominently.  During August, Ross was in Australia to publicize his new book The Australians:  The Way We Live Now (Random House, 2000).  During October he accompanied and lectured to a group of U.S. television excecutives and producers who toured China for several weeks.

Notes from our Yacker "European Bureau Chief," Robert Ross

In September I considered it my duty to cover the British Australian Studies Association's (BASA) Biennial Conference at King's College, London, hosted by The Menzies Centre for Australian Studies on the fitting theme:  "Comings and Goings:  Britain, Australia, Past and Present."

The interdisciplinary nature of BASA directed the discussions twoard politics, history and social problems with literary studies taking a backseat except for numerous Australian writers anxious to read from their work.  One of the readings took place in the sumptuous Downer Room in the Australian High Commission.  As one unidentified postconlonial theorist theorized afterwards in a pub, the Room's ornate décor makes it's own statments about colonialism:  that is, the colonists could outdo the colonizer in architectural excesses.

Like other European conferences I have attended, Australian academics outnumbered their European counterparts.  This dsproportionate number infludences the discussions both favorably and negatively.  With firsthand experience, Australians do know what they are talking about.  At the same time, though, as one European noted, the Australian dominance makes the hosts reluctant to express their ideas.  Sprinkling the program with "keynote addresses" must be a European-British tradition, which is not a bad idea.

Being neither Australian nor British nor European, I have no business assessing conferences that I attend as an outsider.  In fact, no one asked me for my opinion.  Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, learned a few things, way friends from far and wide, and I found it gratifying that interest in Australian Studies continues to flourish.

Faculty and Student Publications

Greg Brown. "The Disasporic Challenge to Identity: Insights from the Australia-Croat Experience." People and Place 8:3, 68-73.

John Higley and Rhonda Evans Case. "Australia: The Politics of Becoming a Republic." Journal of Democracy 11:3, 136-150.

John Higley and Rhonda Evans Case.
"The Executive Preogrative Issue." Australian Journal of Political Science 35:3 (November).


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