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!

The Authenticity of Landscape


On Thursday, October 11, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will continue with two speakers, Dr Alicia Marchant (ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions: Europe 1100–1800, University of Western Australia) and Dr Emily O’Gorman (Department of Geography & Planning, Macquarie University).


Our theme for this seminar is the Authenticity of Landscape. Our speakers will be discussing the way that landscape is understood and idealised, as well as how particular configurations of and stages in the development of a landscape are held up as authentic, original, and desirable. The speakers will address these issues in the following papers.

Alicia Marchant, ‘John Hardyng’s Scotland: Landscape, Heritage and Authenticity in the Fifteenth Century’

In 1457, Northumbrian knight John Hardyng (d. c.1465) employed a cartographer to create a map of Scotland for inclusion in his recently completed chronicle history of Britain. This bright, ornate map depicts Scotland as an appealing, prosperous and productive landscape of lochs and mountains, thick-walled castles, towers and churches. Far from straightforward, this map displays a landscape with a complex cultural and natural heritage, imbued with English colonialism, focalised through the eyes of its creator. What Hardyng desired most through the creation of this cartographic image was to convince successive English kings to gather an army and invade the land that it charted. Alongside the map and chronicle, Hardyng submitted legal documents that he claimed to have collected in Scotland but which turn out to be forged. The case of Hardyng and his failed interventions in English politics raise intriguing questions regarding authenticity, heritage and landscape.

Emily O’Gorman, ‘Towards a genealogy of wetlands: Categories of conservation, bird migration and global environmental crisis’

This paper offers a genealogy of wetlands, in particular focusing on how it became a category of conservation, shaped by understandings of bird migration and an emerging sense of a global environmental crises in the 1960s and 1970s. It situates this discussion within experiences in Australia, where changing understandings of transcontinental bird migrations, Pacific diplomacy, and ideas of habitats and habitat loss, converged to shape government scientists’ involvement in the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance 1971. This paper examines wetlands as a category defined by and laden with specific sets of values, shaped by particular expertise and relationships with certain animals and plants, and deeply connected with Australasian and Pacific circulations, both human and more-than-human.

The Authenticity of Faith


On Thursday, August 30, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will continue with two speakers, Associate Professor Clare Monagle (Department of Modern History, Macquarie University) and Dr Aydogan Kars (Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University).


Our theme for this seminar is the Authenticity of Faith, that is the way that faith is recognised and policed in various systems. We will have the following papers on the topic.

Clare Monagle, ‘Faith and Empathy: Distance and Proximity in narrating Christianity in the Middle Ages’.

It is a dated cliche, historiographically, to describe the period we call the Middle Ages as an ‘Age of Faith’. Scholars have rightly rejected the hegemonic idea of a uniform age, instead seeking out the myriad forms of belief and practice inhering through the latin west between roughly 500 and 1500 of the Common Era. But, this deconstruction notwithstanding, it remains necessary to encounter faith as a category of analysis in the Middle Ages, because it is often the only thing that explains a great number of political and social realities. That is, the order of society was informed at a profound level by Christian notions of truth, that underscored the legitimacy of power in the period. My paper will think about the way that contemporary historians make sense of faith in the Middle Ages, drawing upon recent work in the history of emotions and affect to do so. I will also explore, however, the critique of these approaches offered by self-proclaimed Christian believers, who insist that one can only know the Middle Ages if one knows what it is to have faith. At stake, are a number of discourses of authenticity and historical empathy.

Aydogan Kars, ‘Contemporary Debates on Religious Authenticity: Experiences, Institutions, Languages’

This talk introduces the current frontiers of scholarship in the study of religious authenticity, focusing on the relationship between religious experiences, institutions, and languages. First, it elaborates on the nature of authentic religious experiences, comparing the two prominent paradigms set by Emile Durkheim and William James, and introducing more recent contributions of cognitive science. Are such experiences fundamentally social, or individualistic? Second, my talk addresses the relationship between established religious institutions and authentic religious experiences. Do social institutions condition religious experiences, or is it such  authentic experiences that create those institutions? Finally, it compares universalist and constructivist approaches to religious authenticity by focusing on the ways in which language relates to religious experience. Are mystical utterances authentic markers of pre-conceptual (or ineffable) experiences, or are these experiences already shaped and conditioned by language? By exploring these still debated questions, this talk introduces where we are in the academic study of religious authenticity.


The Authenticity of Identity


On Thursday, August 2, at 5:00pm – 7:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will recommence for Semester 2, 2018 with two speakers, Associate Professor Jay Johnston from the Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney, and Dr Ian Stephen from the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University.

Our theme this seminar is the Authenticity of Identity, that is the way identity is performed, construed, inferred, enacted, recognised, and regulated by society. At issue is the relationship between appearance and the self and how the former may be used to affirm or deflect the latter. Associate Professor Johnston’s paper ‘Slippery Species: Considering Human–Non-Human Identity as a Contemporary Spiritual Subculture’ and Dr Stephen’s paper ‘Are our faces and bodies authentic markers of identity?’ consider the ways in which we understand how identity can be externalised at the level of body and face and the processes we engage in when making judgements about appearances. These papers are shadowed by the complicated politics of authenticity brought into being by the baggage of mind-body dualism. From the perspective of religious studies and evolutionary psychology, these papers look at the way authenticity is crafted in skin.


The Authenticity of the Body


On Thursday March 22, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will recommence for 2018 with two speakers, Dr Karin Sellberg from the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland, and Professor Wendy Rogers from the Departments of Clinical Medicine and Philosophy at Macquarie University.

Our theme this seminar is the Authenticity of the Body, that is the way the body has been regulated and thought of in medicine, the media, and in society. Ideas about what constitutes the ideal state and what variations are permissable, tolerable, invited, and recognised shape the possibilities we imagine for ourselves and our conception of what it is to be embodied.


Narrative Authenticity: Transgender Identity, ‘Passing’ and Coming-of-Age Stories

Dr Karin Sellberg, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, University of Queensland

From its modern emergence in the 1950’s and 60’s, transgender subjectivity and embodiment has relied on narrative as a means of transformation. After the highly publicized international announcement of the ‘first sex change’ of Christine Jorgensen in 1952, there was a surge of transition autobiographies published, outlining the pre- and post-transition histories and emotional developments of (initially primarily female-to-male) transsexual authors of various nationalities and backgrounds, as well as a number of academic works, also by transgender authors, analyzing these autobiographies and the questions they pose about gender.

Bernice Hausman recognizes both types of texts to be narratives of authenticity, or identity formation in Changing Sex (Routledge, 1995). Stories about how ‘I always knew I was a little girl/boy’, have become canonical within transgender academia and culture, as well as within the private experiences of transgender men and women. Not merely have they become the means by which a person can prove their transgender status within the clinical space, and thus receive treatment, but they’ve also become an often reiterated and internalized means of connection and self-recognition within transgender cultural spaces.

This paper will investigate the ways in which a number of linked transgender coming-of-age blogs reiterate the narrative structures as well as the more or less theoretical analyses coming out of the autobiographical transgender canon. I will argue that there is a canonical shape, content and understanding of the narratives of self appearing within this online community, and that these constraints determine the perimeters of ‘authentic’ transgender experiences.



“Overdiagnosis and the problem of ‘real’ diseases”

Professor Wendy A. Rogers, Department of Philosophy and Department of Clinical Medicine, Macquarie University.

 The criteria for defining what ‘counts’ as a disease are contested in philosophy and medicine alike. Conditions such as measles, tuberculosis or malignant melanoma are widely accepted as authentic diseases. In contrast, conditions such as Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme-like disease occupy a less certain place in Western nosology. Longstanding challenges in defining disease have been exacerbated by technological advances in medicine that permit identification of ever smaller degrees of abnormality; by the introduction of widespread screening programs; and by changes in diagnostic criteria for specific diseases. These factors have prompted the observation that much of diagnosed disease does not progress in the expected ways, a phenomenon known as overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis is the detection of conditions taken to be diseases that would not have harmed the individual if left undetected. Overdiagnosis of “non-authentic” diseases raises a plethora of conceptual and ethical challenges, upon which I touch in this talk.

Disobedience in the Milgram Experiments: Kathryn Millard’s Experiment 20

Professor Kathryn Millard (Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies) has been working on the famous Milgram ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiments for a number of years, mining the archives for new critical insights into the human reality behind the now infamous conclusions. Her interdisciplinary projects, working with psychologists in the United Kingdom, get under the skin of psychological method and reveal on film the importance of small moments of resistance. Following on from the success of Shock Room, Experiment 20 (featured in the Guardian Australia’s Present Traces series) highlights the experience of women participating in the experiment by using recordings of the experiment to bring them to life on the screen. Professor Millard will be discussing these projects in the final event of our Markers of Authenticity seminar series, The Spectacle of Science, this year in November.

Online Conspiracy Forums and Belief – Colin Klein, Peter Clutton & Vince Polito

phil-colin_klein 2

Last year, Dr Colin Klein (Philosophy, ANU) presented in our Markers of Authenticity seminar on ‘Faking the News’ with Dr Margie Borschke (MMCCS, Macquarie University) on the 14th of August. Colin’s work, with colleagues Peter Clutton (formerly ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University) and Vince Polito (Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University), on conspiracy theories and the online communities which disseminate these has now been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology: Personality and Social Psychology (Feb. 21 2018). Check out ‘Topic Modeling Reveals Distinct Interests within an Online Conspiracy Forum‘ to learn more about how this work on online conspiracy forums complicates our picture of belief. Vince Polito will be speaking later this year in our Markers of Authenticity seminar on the Authenticity of Faith.