8.30 – 9.00 am: Registration
9.00 – 10.30: Not a Bi-Polar (Early Modern) World
Speakers: Charles Zika, Nat Cutter
Chair: Sarah Feber
Understandings of Western Civilization and Western Culture rest heavily on notions of their opposite, on what Western Culture is not, and on a unified and coherent notion of “the West”. The “West” in turn originated with the idea of a unified “Europe” and earlier still with that of Christendom, and underestimates the way in which actual political, social and cultural divisions were at odds with such assumptions of unity, and the contemporary calls for or claims of such unity in the face of external pressure or attack.
This panel focuses on two societies at opposite ends of what was to become Europe, England and Austria, and their interaction with the (also deeply divided) Islamic world in the seventeenth century. This was a period when notions of Europe had not yet clearly emerged, when Christendom was wracked with deep divisions, and when the struggle between Christianity and Islam is commonly thought to have reached fever pitch, climaxing with the victory of Christian Europe over Islam at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. An analysis of the engagement of Protestant England with Morocco in this period, and Catholic Austria’s conflict with the Ottomans, demonstrate the oversimplicity of such constructs of a bi-polar world, that features in Orientalist thought, underpins ideas of Western Culture and Western Civilization, and continues to inspire ideologies of white supremacy.
10.30 – 11.00: Tea break
11.00 – 12.30 pm: Western Civilisation and Contemporary Political Discourse
Speakers: Ryan Buesnel, Blaise Dufal, Christopher van der Krogt
Chair: Lachlan McCarron
The concept of Western Civilisation is now routinely deployed within political discourse, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. This panel explores the uses of concepts of western civilisation by a range of political groups. Blaise Dufal highlights the uses of the concept of ‘civilisation’ within political debates around national identity in France across the twentieth century. Ryan Buesnel explores how these ideas are deployed to support the growth of white supremacism through contemporary heavy metal, particularly in Eastern Europe. Christopher van der Krogt explores how ideas of crusading and Jihad are used to justify contemporary violence. This panel provides an opportunity to think through issues of how histories of Western Civilisation are activated for political ends.
12.30 – 1.30: Lunch
1.30 – 3.30: Western Civilisation and Media Engagement
Speakers: Simon Royal, Journalist (ABC Adelaide); Tory Shepherd, Political Editor (The Advertiser)
Chair: Claire Walker
This sessions explores how historians engage with the professional media to articulate the histories we produce, and to challenge misconceptions deployed in the public sphere. It particularly reflects on how humanities scholars might provide a counterpoint to narratives that are deployed to support terrorism or racial hatred.
3.30 – 4.00: Closing Discussion