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Social, Cultural and Political Change

Politics and international relations

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Just watching? Politics, theatre and the theatre metaphor

Researcher: Sandey Fitzgerald
Supervisor:
Murray Goot

Summary

Politics has long been seen metaphorically as theatre. The practice of theatre entails a necessary and constitutive relationship with spectators, suggesting that theatre theory may offer insights into the relationship between politics and spectatorship. However, it appears that theatre theory shares politics' disregard for spectators. The theatre metaphor, on the other hand, sets up a 'seeing-place' in which a generally unacknowledged spectator assumes the untouchable position of a god, thereby objectifying those being watched. The metaphor rather than theatre theory reveals spectatorship as a form of power. It is therefore a crucial concern for politics and political theory. 

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Justice and equality

International Political Science Association, Research Committee on Political Philosophy: Conference at Macquarie University, July 13-17, 2011

Co-Convenors: Preston King (Morehouse College, Atlanta), Stephanie Lawson

Does the moral pluralism of modern societies of itself impose a thin, formal conception of the good society? Does modern pluralism directly preclude some more substantive normative basis for politics? Can political philosophy do no more than identify fair terms of cooperation that accommodate each individual's pursuit of his or her specific conception of the good life? Is such a formal conception of the good society adequate? Can it motivate moral behavior? Is it too elusive to guide actual decisions? 

This broad, modern debate touches on the central problem of articulating justice so as to (a) embrace the fact of modern plurality, without (b) falling into an abstract idealism far removed from the concrete, practical contexts in which justice must apply.

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Politics and time

Researcher: Stephanie Lawson

Summary

Time is a dimension that is usually conceptualised in the human sciences as encompassing past, present and future while evincing unbroken continuity - sometimes cyclical but more often unidirectional; often with a beginning but less often with an end. It is not only a dimension - along with space - within which political thought and action takes place, or within which history is located, but also a concept with manifold methodological and normative, epistemological and ontological implications for virtually all disciplines.

This multi-author project will result in a special issue of the Australian Journal of Politics and History in 2011.

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The politics of regional identity in the postcolonial Pacific

Researcher: Stephanie Lawson

Summary

The project investigates regionalist discourses in the Pacific islands, the cultural values they embody and the political agendas they serve. The geographic focus is the Southwest Pacific and the culture areas conventionally described as Melanesia and Polynesia. The study also takes account of nationalist discourses within these areas, the relationship between the island nations and Australia and New Zealand, and the Melanesia/Polynesia divide. The analytical framework is informed by postcolonial theory, but the study will also highlight what is often missing from this framework - namely critiques of indigenous elite practices, social inequalities within the islands, and intra-regional rivalries.

Grant details

National Library of Australia, Harold White Fellowship (Oct-Nov 2011)

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How, and under what circumstances, 'context' matters in the interpretation of politics; and the West/non-West dichotomy in the study of world politics

Researcher: Stephanie Lawson

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