Challenging the Humanities

15-16 November 2012, University of Western Sydney

The Academy's 43rd Annual Symposium was convened by Professor Tony Bennett FAHA and hosted by the Institute for Culture and Society.

The humanities are currently presented with a rare combination of intellectual challenges: changing policy environments and priorities necessitate new styles of thought and intervention; the still-unfolding financial crises urges a rethink of the economy and the interdisciplinary issues at stake in its investigation; there is increasing emphasis on the role played by material forces – technologies and infrastructures – in organising social life; and new cross-disciplinary concerns have been prompted by post-humanist perspectives and the environmental challenges presented by the conception of the anthropocene.

The humanities have responded vigorously to these changing contexts. New paradigms for critical thought and its modes of social and political engagement have resulted in significant challenges to purely scientific, technocratic or economistic framings of policy challenges and solutions. Significant theoretical innovations and new research orientations have illuminated the role of ‘things’ in social life while also rethinking the concepts of matter and materialism. Humanities scholarship has brought new light to bear on the ways in which the human is always shaped by its relations to the nonhuman in its environmental, technical and animal forms. The increasingly prominent role of Indigenous perspectives in Australian intellectual life has prompted widespread recognition of the relevance of Indigenous knowledges to the practices of Australian universities.

The Academy's 43rd Annual Symposium debated the contemporary challenges that face the humanities and the challenging responses that these have elicited.



The programme is available [.pdf 96KB]

Discipline Panel Meetings, 16 November 2012

Following on from last year's successful initiative, the Academy also hosted a series of discipline panel meetings at the University of Western Sydney’s Parramatta campus on the afternoon of Friday 16 November. These roundtables were funded by the Academy’s ARC-Learned Academies Special Project, Humanities Connections, which aims to develop new activities to support professional development, closer collaboration, improved research application outcomes, and policy research in the humanities. 

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