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Cultural ownership and responsibility is not just a fad

10 Comments
03 October 2016 | Esther Anatolitis

Lionel ShriverWho owns a cultural object? Who has the right to determine cultural values? And how can public institutions exercise cultural responsibility? It's a timely set of questions as we consider the implications of the National Gallery of Australia's return of ancient Indian sculptures, the British Museum's refusal to return Indigenous objects, or Lionel Shriver's rejection of minority cultural identities. Each of these unleashes complex, painful consequences that can undermine cultural value or cultural safety.


The dangers of Trump and climate conspiracy theories

6 Comments
28 September 2016 | Fatima Measham

Donald TrumpTrump predictably resorted to insinuation to mask his deficiencies. After the first presidential debate, he said: 'They gave me a defective mic. Did you notice that ... was that on purpose?' It is hilarious until you realise how it would be received by supporters. It captures something of contemporary politics, where the line between conspiracy theory and legitimate anti-establishment criticism is more smudged than ever. A deficit of trust is one thing; a detachment from truth is something else.


Another win for 'David' Timor against 'Goliath' Australia

19 Comments
26 September 2016 | Frank Brennan

East Timorese childrenTimor has scored another win in the international legal forum, this time before a five-member Conciliation Commission convened under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In response, George Brandis and Julie Bishop regurgitated the Canberra mantra: 'We have a strong interest in Timor-Leste's stability and growing prosperity, and in providing a stable and transparent framework for investment in the Timor Sea.' They have no idea just how patronising this sounds in Dili.


Time to put an end to slavery in Australia

3 Comments
19 September 2016 | Sarah Puls

Woman's eyeLabour exploitation in Australia is a massive problem and becoming worse. And it's not like our parliamentarians are unaware of the facts. In March a senate report, titled 'A National Disgrace: Exploitation of Working Visa Holders', provided evidence of significant exploitation of vulnerable workers and made 33 recommendations to address these issues and work towards change. Yet, not one of these recommendations has been taken up and there is no sign yet that they will be.


A walk with the ghosts of Chile's September 11

6 Comments
13 September 2016 | Tony Thompson

Patio 29I don't speak Spanish but I knew I had to try to ask someone. It wasn't an appealing idea. The crowds of people roaming here were the bereaved. They were here to visit their loved ones, not help me tick a box on my tourist adventure. However, I had little choice. I stopped a friendly looking middle aged man. 'Victor Jara,' I said. 'Donde?' He smiled and said a lot of things in Spanish while gesturing in a particular direction. I thanked him and headed the way he had pointed.


The Catholic Church's view on human rights

1 Comment
04 September 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan with the Master of the Dominicans Fr Bruno Cadore OP.'I am a Jesuit amongst Dominicans contemplating the Church's view of human rights. I am a human rights practitioner rather than a theologian, aware that human rights discourse is increasingly more universal and secular. Contemplating, preaching and enacting human rights in the 21st Century Church and World, I come asking two questions.' Frank Brennan's keynote presentation in Salamanca Spain to the International Congress of Dominicans in the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights: Past, Present, Future on the occasion of their 800th anniversary.


Britain and Norway's model solution for the Timor Sea

2 Comments
31 August 2016 | Paul Cleary

Map showing maritime boundaries and Timor GapAs Australia and East Timor met overnight at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Britain-Norway settlement of the 1960s provides an instructive case study of how to resolve the dispute over oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea. Norway had feared its big neighbour would exploit a deep trench near its coastline and push the boundary beyond halfway. Instead, the Norwegian negotiators were stunned when Britain offered the median line as the starting point for negotiations.


History can't absolve Serbia's great demon demagogue

8 Comments
29 August 2016 | Binoy Kampmark

Slobodan MilosevicIn the savage wars of the Balkans during the 1990s, the identification of good sides over bad meant evil had to be singularised, culprits found to galvanise resistance. One such figure was Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. His death in a Hague cell in March 2006 had the effect of suspending arguments about responsibility from any legal scrutiny. Earlier this month, British journalist Neil Clark suggested he had in fact been exonerated for his role in war crimes and crimes against humanity. He's wrong.


A society that forgives wins

11 Comments
24 August 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Russia's Yuliya Efimova looks on as America's Lilly King celebrates winning the women's 100m breaststrokeAlmost all public conversation quickly turns to transgressors. Olympic competitors growled about proven and suspect drug users. Many wanted people found to have used drugs shamed and shunned. This insistence that transgressors should definitively lose their good name and the right to participate is not confined to sport. If inflexibility and exclusion become the rule in dealing with aberrant speech or behaviour we find unacceptable, they will impose heavy burdens on individuals and society.


The world we choose to live in

5 Comments
23 August 2016 | Jim McDermott

Stylised Trump portraitMaybe standing there we weren't afraid about the fight that was happening across the street, but the fraying at the edges that it represents, the insecurity that the gospel both of Trump and against Trump seems to be creating in our society. It echoes the insecurity we hear in the Brexit vote, and the treatment of both ethnic British citizens and immigrants that followed. Likewise, the resurrection of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party. None of it sounds good and where is it all going?


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