Authentic Selves

For our third Markers of Authenticity seminar for 2019, we’re going to consider the ways in which the self is projected, constructed, and created,  from internet culture to literature. Join us on Friday 30th August, 4–6pm, for an interdisciplinary seminar sponsored by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and the Environment in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 3, Rm 202 (the ‘Recreation room’: note change from usual venue).

SelfDraft

Influencers and Cultures of Authenticity-making

Dr Crystal Abidin, Senior Research Fellow & ARC DECRA Fellow in Internet Studies, Curtin University / Affiliate Researcher with the Media Management and Transformation Centre, Jönköping University.

In the earliest days of Influencer commerce, the allure was premised on the diary-like reportage of people’s everyday lives, in the rhetoric of confessional documentaries. The regularity and frequency of their updates mirrored the daily rhythms of a teenager’s social life and attracted followers: Their blogs became a means for other girls to learn how to be social through consumption, within their modest spending power. Today, these pioneers are among the most seasoned veterans in influencer culture, innovating with new disclosure strategies to sustain followers over their decade-long careers. Drawing from research on regional Influencer cultures since 2008, in this seminar I will provide a brief overview of the concepts ‘Perceived interconnectedness’, ‘Relatability’, ‘Calibrated amateurism’, and ‘Porous authenticity’ for discussion in relation to cultures of authenticity-making.

Cultural Authenticity, the Family, and East Asian Romance Novels

Associate Professor Hsu-Ming Teo, Department of English, Macquarie University.

In 2018 the film Crazy Rich Asians was released to much fanfare and publicity, earning nominations at the Golden Globes and other awards, and grossing $174,532,921 in the United States and $238,532,921 worldwide. Although criticized within Asian markets, especially in Singapore, for its erasure of non-ethnically Chinese characters from the romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians was lauded in the US for its all-Asian cast – something seldom seen in Hollywood. Romance stories featuring Asian protagonists are still few and far between, leading writers, readers, and bloggers with an Asian background to establish websites that compile lists of Asian-themed romances, as well as frustrated blogs that ask “Are Asian Men Not Sexy?” and “Where the Hell Are All the Asians?”.

The demand by bloggers and readers on such websites for “sexy Asians” raises an intriguing question: what exactly is it about a romance novel that makes it “Asian”? Protagonists who are from the dizzying diversity of “Asian” backgrounds? Is “Asianness” a term from race or the process of racialization? Or ethnic variations within a racialized category? Or do national origins – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, South Korea, India, the Philippines, and so on – contribute more to particular types of Asianness? And what about Asian-American romances – the most substantial contemporary genre in which protagonists of Asian backgrounds are currently found. Are fully assimilated American romantic protagonists of Asian background, who wear their cultural difference lightly and whose Asianness is virtually invisible, sufficient to make a romance Asian? Or must Asian difference be emphasized no matter how many generations the Asian-American protagonist’s family has been in the United States?

This paper considers how Asianness is created as an example of Gayatri Spivak’s “strategic essentialism”, and through strategies of what Stanley Fish calls “strong” and “weak” multiculturalism. It looks at how history, culture, and, above all, a certain notion of the oppressive Asian family are used to create a sense of authentic Asianness in the contemporary romance genre.

Authenticity of Risk

For our second Markers of Authenticity seminar for 2019, we’ll turn our attention to the concept of risk and how risk is made meaningful to us from Renaissance Italy through to the cyber security frontlines of today. Join us on Friday 24th May, 4–6pm, for a cross-faculty seminar sponsored by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and the Environment in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Rm 212.

How Unknown was the Unknown Future? Cheats and Frauds in Renaissance Italy

Dr Nicholas Baker, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations.

According to the sixteenth-century Church, gambling was problematic because it was immoral and sinful; but according to most other Renaissance sources the real problem with gambling was not metaphysical but rather the fact that  frequently the odds were not equal but rigged through deception, fraud, or cheating. I will reflect on how sixteenth-century Italians thought about risk in relation to financial speculation on apparently unknown future outcomes.

Trust, Authenticity and Cybersecurity Risks

Dr John Selby, Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Since the widespread adoption of the Internet in the 1990s, government, businesses and society have all become exposed to significant and growing cybersecurity risks which undermine our concepts of trust and authenticity. Cyber-criminals have sought to exploit our trust in other humans so as to steal money through a variety of scams, such as romance fraud, phishing, whaling and business email compromises. Businesses have sought to exploit our desire for “free” services and authentic social interactions so as to engage in surveillance capitalism. Governments have struggled to accurately identify these criminal attackers, creating an attribution problem which threatens the viability of the cyber-insurance industry. This presentation will give a very brief introduction to these complex problems with the goal of stimulating an interdisciplinary discussion of how we might better study, understand and solve them.

Authenticity of Memory

For our first Markers of Authenticity seminar for 2019, we’ll be considering how collaborative memory works in practice. Join us on Friday 12th April 4–6 pm for a special seminar presented in conjunction with the Centre for Applied History and sponsored by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and the Environment in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Rm 212.

MemoryImage

How do family historians work with memory?

A/Prof. Tanya Evans (Department of Modern History, Politics, and International Relations, Macquarie University; Director, Centre for Applied History)

Drawing on survey data and oral history interviews undertaken with family historians in Australia, England and Canada this talk will explore the ways in which family historians construct memories using diverse sources in their research. It will show how they utilise oral history, archival documents, material culture and explorations of space to construct and reconstruct family stories and to make meaning of the past. It will ask whether they undertake critical readings of these sources when piecing together their families’ stories and reveal the impact of that work on individual subjectivities, the construction of historical consciousness and the broader social value of family history scholarship. Global family history challenges the patriarchal, nation-focussed, state-driven historical scholarship we discover so easily in our formal archives and libraries. How might family historians reshape our knowledge on memory and the history of the family in the 21st century?

“Remember when…?” How reminiscing with mothers and others supports young children’s memory and emotion development

A/Prof. Penny Van Bergen (SFHEA, Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University; Director, Centre for Children’s Learning in a Social World)

Memory is a critically important aspect of our lives. We share memories with one another multiple times a day: building emotional bonds, eliciting sympathy or empathy, and problem solving for the future. As parents and teachers, we also scaffold and support young children’s emerging memory narratives. I extend on this past research in two ways. First, I consider implications for emotion development. I show how reminiscing about emotional past events (e.g. fights with friends, getting in trouble) may be a particularly rich forum for developing emotion competence. Next, I extend from mothers to others. Working with teachers, fathers, and other children, I show how a range of socialising agents support children’s memory.

My Internship on the Forging Antiquity Project for 2018

Last year I had the opportunity to work as a research intern on the ARC Discovery Project, ‘Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri’ through the Macquarie University PACE program with A/Prof. Malcolm Choat and Dr. Rachel Yuen-Collingridge. This internship exposed me to a wide range of forged manuscripts and allowed me to develop new and existing research skills.

The first forgeries I examined were papyri from the University of Michigan collection. They appeared to be in Greek, but I struggled to make any sense of them. I was relieved to learn soon after that these particular texts were nonsensical and were made to only superficially resemble Greek documents. I learned that many forgeries of this kind were produced and included in auction lots of papyri in Egypt during the 19th and early 20th centuries to enhance their perceived value. I spent much of my time working on the database squinting at high resolution images of papyri, observing fibre direction and searching for traces of ancient ink. I had to consult a wide range of printed and digital papyrological media (occasionally written in Italian, French, Russian or German). By the end of the internship, research assistant Vanessa Mawby and I had collected data for 180 forgeries. Among these were compositions and copied texts written on a variety of materials in Greek, Demotic, Hieratic and Coptic.

Database meeting

My second task was to transcribe one of Constantine Simonides’ forged biblical manuscripts. While Simonides’ hand was relatively easy to read, the text was severely worn or missing in many places. Simonides often misjudges the size of lacunae, including or omitting too much of the text. This was an excellent opportunity, and indeed my first, to study a manuscript in detail, taking into consideration its paleography, materiality and layout.

My final task was to prepare a display and catalogue description for a suspected forgery in the Macquarie collection for the exhibition ‘Faking It: Forgeries and artefacts in dialogue.’ MU2893 is a marble votive tabula ansata commemorating the thanksgiving of a certain Marcus Valerius Parthenius to Urania. If authentic, it likely dates to the third or fourth century CE. In addition to producing arguments for and against its authenticity, I investigated its acquisition and publication history and the market history of tabulae ansatae more generally. Finally, I considered the ethical implications of the item’s purchase on the antiquities market.

As an intern with the project, it was my great pleasure to attend the conference ‘Manuscripts from the Margins: How to edit a forgery’ and the subsequent public day of lectures ‘Faking It’ (Sept. 20–22, 2018). I was pleased to learn more about the increasingly sophisticated methods of today’s forgers, namely their recycling and simulation of ancient mediums. I was inspired by the argument that unprovenanced texts should be flagged as potential forgeries in future editions and avoided by scholars in the formulation of historical arguments.

Of all the lessons I took away from the internship, the most important one was the (often-overlooked) cultural value of forgeries. The finest examples are works of great skill, knowledge and creativity. More importantly, they often offer fascinating insight into how learned individuals and/or their communities have imagined the distant past.

Mark Matic

Student Internships on the ‘Forging Antiquity’ Project

In Session 2 2019, five research internships will be offered to Bachelor of Philosophy (Masters of Research year 1) students at Macquarie University on two research projects based in the Department of Ancient History. Four internships are being offered on the Australian Research council project “Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri“, and one in the new ARC project “Ancient Egyptian papyri: unlocking secrets to the history of writing“.

In each of these internships, students will work as part of the Forging Antiquity team investigating an aspect of the history of the forgery of ancient artefacts, especially papyri an other manuscripts.

Internships are being offered in the following aspects of the project:

Interns will work one day a week with the team, undertaking research on a project which will contribute to the larger project goals. Descriptions of the tasks to be undertaken, the goals, and the expected outcomes for each internship may be found in the links above. For some internships we are seeking specific skills (such as knowledge of particular languages), but for the most part they are open to students across the Faculty of Arts and indeed the University. We love diverse teams of researchers with different skills and backgrounds, so if you’re interested in working with us, please do contact us.

Further information can be found at the links above. Applications close on the 14th of June 2019, but interested students should contact A/Prof. Malcolm Choat (email malcolm.choat@mq.edu.au, phone 9850 7561) as soon as possible.

 

Markers of Authenticity: 2018 in Review

We’re again a bit late in re-capping our year in 2018, but looking ahead to 2019, we want to summarise what we did during 2018, as we continued the Markers of Authenticity seminar series with a program designed to look outside of the Faculty of Arts to highlight collaborative possibilities with other Departments and Faculties.

Due to one of the convenors taking parental leave and another being on study leave in the first half of  2018, we ran only one seminar in this semester, a session on ‘The Authenticity of the Body’ (22/3), featuring Dr Karin Sellberg (a specialist in the history of medicine and feminist and queer historiography based at the University of Queensland), who spoke on authenticity in transgender autobiography, and Professor Wendy Rogers (Department of Clinical Medicine & Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University), who addressed overdiagnosis and the problem of ‘real’ diseases.

On the 2nd of August a seminar on ‘The Authenticity of Identity’ positioned the work of A/Prof. Jay Johnston (Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney) on ‘otherkin’ and humans who identify as animals and other non-human creatures against the research on facial recognition of Dr Ian Stephen (Department of Psychology, Macquarie University), who asked ‘Are our faces and bodies authentic markers of identity?’. Dr Stephen’s work was clearly challenging to many in the audience, which as much as anything highlighted the different methodologies and working assumptions of the disciplines.

Our next seminar was a lively session on the 30thof August on ‘The Authenticity of Faith’, bringing together medievalist A/Prof. Clare Monagle (Department of Modern History, Macquarie University) and expert on medieval Islam and religious history Dr Aydogan Kars (Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University), who addressed the nature of faith in historical and theoretical perspectives: Kars’ overview of contemporary debates on religious authenticity was an invaluable crash-course for many in the audience, and Clare’s singing of sections of George Michael’s ‘Faith’ illustrated the aptness of the song for the exegesis of historical studies of religion Clare offered.

On 20–22 September, as part of the ARC Discovery Project ‘Forging Antiquity’, we held a Conference ‘Manuscripts from the Margins’, which gathered together a group of the world’s leading experts in fake texts from throughout history to examine the forging of manuscripts of all sorts, with ren international experts joined by four local scholars in giving papers. 20–21 September were devoted to specialised workshop where presenters addressed issues involved in working with, editing, and publishing forgeries (certain or alleged), while a public event ‘Faking It’ was held on 22 September, with an associated exhibition at the Museum of Ancient Cultures. A Wakelet thread of tweets about the event may be found here.

The final seminar was held on 11 October on ‘The Authenticity of Landscape’, with Dr Alicia Marchant (ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia) examining Renaissance maps of Scotland, and Dr Emily O’Gorman (Department of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University) showcasing her work on wetlands.

On the evening of Thursday 8thof November, with the generous support of the Faculty of Arts Research Office, the Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University and in association with the Environmental Humanities Research Stream, we put on a gala event, ‘The Spectacle of Science: Humanities at the Crossroads of Innovation’ featuring papers by Prof. Kathryn Millard (MMCCS, Macquarie University), Oron Catts (SymbioticA, University of Western Australia), Prof. Jennifer Hudson (Department of Psychology, Macquarie University), and Joe Lander (Artist in Residence in the Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University). This showcase event on the intersection between Art and Science highlighted the way humanities methods have been used to propel and communicate scientific discovery, with each project representing the integration of scientific and humanities methods for the transformation of our understanding of the world and our place within it.

We were very pleased with the year’s program, especially with our engagement with colleagues in the Faculty of Human Sciences, and look forward to our 2019, which we hope to announce shortly.

 

Portraits of Recovery

Today marks the Launch of the Exhibition ‘Portraits of Recovery‘ for Macquarie University Centre for Emotional Health as part of wellbeing week at MQ. At 1pm on Level 3, MUSE building, 18 Wally’s Walk, Professor Jennie Hudson will launch the exhibition by Artist in Residence Joe Lander. These incredible portraits are accompanied by stories of men’s experiences of depression, anxiety, and suicidality and aim at reducing the stigma associated with depression, anxiety, and suicide.

The project will be featured in our final Markers of Authenticity event for 2018, the Spectacle of Science. Go along to the launch today and support this fantastic project!