The History of Medieval Islamic Medicine


The medical tradition, which developed in the lands of Islam from the seventh century AD onwards, is rich and variegated. Its history stretches over more than a millennium, and involves people of many languages (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Syriac, Hebrew) and faiths (Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and pagans). Given the breadth of this field, this lecture will focus on several key themes expressed through individual examples, and illustrated by miniatures, diagrams, and artefacts. These themes include:

The Emergence of Islamic Medicine: During the classical age of Islam and under the aegis of the ‘Abbasids' (ca. 750–950), an extremely sophisticated medical tradition emerged. Based mainly on Greek medical theory and practice, it blended its own heritage with the legacy of the other cultures with which it was in contact including the Byzantines, Alexandrians, Sasanians, and Syriac-speaking Christians.

Medical Theory: The system adopted in the learned medical tradition is generally Galenic, and its main features will be explored briefly. We will notably look at Ibn al-Nafis’ ‘discovery’ of the pulmonary transit (and dispel some myths surrounding this topic). In addition we will examine how medical knowledge was organised in some of the most famous medical encyclopaedias of the time, including Avicenna’s Canon.

Medical Practice: In recent times, scholars have raised the question as to what extent the theory described in the medical manuals corresponded to actual practice. Here again, some myths (such as Caesarean sections) will be dispelled, whilst interesting cases of clinical innovation will be presented.

Physicians and Society: Who were the doctors of Damascus and Toledo, and of Cairo and Baghdad? How did they function within the larger society? What public health initiatives were deployed to provide the poor as well as the powerful with access to medical care? These questions will be discussed, with special reference to the hospital and other institutions of Islamic charity, for which the Muslim Middle Ages are deservedly famous.

Popular Medicine: Magic and divination, pious ritual and prophetic medicine formed as much a part of the therapeutic arsenal as more ‘learned’ practices. We will briefly look at some texts and artefacts in order to augment our understanding of medieval responses to disease.

Continuous tradition: To conclude, this lecture will explore the impact of the Islamic medical tradition on both Western and Eastern medicine. European university medicine emerged on the basis of this tradition (in Latin translation), and still continues to be practised today, not only in the Muslim world, but also in the West. It is this examination of these continuities that will round out this thematic historical overview.

Presenter Peter E. Pormann, D.Litt., M.A., D.Phil., M.Phil. (Oxon); M.A. (Leiden); FRAS, is Professor of Classics and Graeco-Arabic Studies at the University of Manchester.

Friday, 4 November 2016, 4:00 pm

The Forum Theatre 153, Level 1, Arts West

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

Civil Society Resistance to State Violence and Corruption


Civil society resistance has the power to expose and ultimately challenge state crime, violence, and corruption. It occurs not only in places where ‘the rule of law’ is absent or precarious, but also in those which have a normative commitment to upholding it. In this seminar, Professor Penny Green will explore the complicated and interdependent relationship between organised civil society and the state. She will contend that the concept of ‘civil society’ is central to understanding both crimes committed by the state and its responses to the crimes of others.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Turkey, Tunisia, Burma, Kenya, PNG, Colombia and Israel/Palestine, Professor Green will explore some of the ways in which civil society resistance emerges, survives, and sometimes even ‘flourishes’ under conditions of dictatorship, state violence, and repression. She will examine the role politics, human rights, violence, religion, and charity play when the stakes in demanding justice are very high. Despite the reasons underpinning civil society resistance, this lecture will ultimately highlight how complex and fragile it is to unmask and challenge state criminality.

Thursday, 17 November 2016, 5:30 pm

Theatre 219, Kwong Lee Dow Building, 234 Queensberry Street

Posted in Events, Social and Political Sciences

Cuisine and the Construction of Russian National Identity


Professor Darra Goldstein explores Russian national identity and cuisine from the 18th century into the present.

This talk explores Russian national identity and cuisine from the 18th century into the present. Ever since Peter the Great opened his country to the West, the Russians have struggled with ambivalence toward outside influences. This unease has extended beyond political wariness into cuisine, with Western foodways alternately embraced and rejected over the years.

Today, following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Western food is again politically fraught. The economic sanctions imposed by Europe, Australia, and the U.S. have led Russia to ban imports of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products, causing widespread food shortages. Where Soviet Customs officers once seized illicit magazines and books, Russian Border Control now confiscates cheese and other Western foodstuffs.

Russians are famously accustomed to deprivation, but these latest shortages have led not to resignation but to a gradual revival of artisanal production that is transforming Russia’s gastronomic landscape. We can see a new form of nationalism being played out in the culinary sphere.

Professor Darra Goldstein is the Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian at Williams College and Founding Editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. She has published widely on literature, culture, art, and cuisine.

Supported by the Macgeorge Bequest.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016, 6:00 pm

Discursive Space (Level 5, Room 553), Arts West

Posted in Events, Languages and Linguistics

Regions of the Contemporary: Transnational Art Festivals and Exhibitions in 1990s Southeast Asia


Join us for this three-day symposium to reflect on critical events for transnational contemporary art across Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Informed by recent archival research undertaken into Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI), an artist-initiated festival held in northern Thailand (see Simon Soon's essay in the upcoming issue of Afterall), we propose three key questions for discussion:

  1. How did CMSI, and gatherings like it, inform and displace the more deliberate, institutional pictures of a region propagated elsewhere, for example by large triennials in Brisbane and Fukuoka?

  2. If Southeast Asia was still peripheral to the art world’s centres in the 1990s, its artists decisively joined that world during that decade, experimenting with art forms — performance, site-specific installation, participatory and so-called relational practices — that had special currency in the burgeoning global art circuit. But what was their currency within the region itself?

  3. Enquiries framed as ‘exhibition histories’ may be able to do better justice to the specific local conditions of art’s presentation and reception, but were exhibitions the critical junctures that precipitated post-national contemporary art, or were they the means to other ends?

This symposium will examine the forms and contexts of artistic and curatorial practice, the modes of organisation, and the importance of artist-to-artist relationships across an emergent Southeast Asian art world in the 1990s.

This symposium is co-organised by Afterall and the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. It will test ideas for forthcoming books in the Afterall's Exhibition Histories series, produced in collaboration with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

This symposium is free and open to all.

Symposium Schedule – Public Programme Day 1: Saturday 5 November: 15:00–16:30 Chang Mai Social Installation: From the Vault

17:30–19:00: Panel 1 Regions of the Contemporary

Day 2: Sunday 6 November 14:.00–15:30. Panel 2 Chang Mai Social Installation in Focus

16:00–17:30. Panel 3 Artist to Artist: Transnational Art Festivals and Exhibitions in Southeast Asia

18:00–19:30. Panel 4 Landscape of the Global: How Curators/Artists Created Contemporary Art

Day 3: Monday 7 November 15:00–16:00. Keir Foundation Lecture Prof. Apinan Poshyananda on the emergence of Thai contemporary art.

A detailed program and further information is available via the ''website information" link.

Saturday, 5 November 2016, 3:00 pm

Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Sidney Myer Asia Centre

Posted in Culture and Communication, Events

Rencontres Study Day


A Gathering of Voices of the Vietnamese Diaspora Colloquium

Key note address with Professor Martine Antle - McCaughey, The University of Sydney

"Ethics of Remembrance in Vietnamese Photography: Towards New Visial Diasporic Communities"

Contemporary Vietnamese photography provides a lens that invites us to read Vietnamese diasporic cultural and transnational identities. This presentation will in partivular examine post-war exilic photography produced by artists who are Vietnamese born but who are often living in exile: the Vietnamese/Australian Dacchi Dand, the Japanese/American Jun Nguyen Hasushiba and Vietnamese/American Din Q. Lê. As they create new artistic spaces and dialogues, these artists share a collective experience of decentering the loss of belonging. In the process, they become cultural agents of change on the global art scene today.

Panel 1: Translating Vietnamese-Francophone Fiction

Jean Anderson - Victoria University of Wellington

"Translating the Translated?: Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut's Espirit de la renarde"

Sian Robyns - Victoria University of Wellington

"Translating Linda Le's Le Complese de Caliban"

Jessica Trevitt - Monash University

"Approaching Translated Literature through the Transdiasporic: The Case of the Vietnamese Diaspora"

Panel 2: Trends in Vietnamese Diasporic Writing

Pham Van Quang - National University of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh

“L’émergence des récits de vie d’auteurs vietnamiens francophones : du discours testimonial à l’attestation identitaire”

Chi Vu - Victoria University

“Linguistic duality: Allegiance and Betrayal in Translingual Literature”

Hoa Pham

“Vietnamese Diasporic Literatures”

Panel 3: Refugee Narratives

Tess Do - The University of Melbourne and Alex Kurmann - Macquarie University

“Children on the Boat: The Child Motif in French and Francophone-Canadian Short Fiction of the Vietnamese Diaspora”

Carina Hoang - Curtin University

“Narratives of refugee experience in Hong Kong”

Closing Talk:

Associate Professor Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen - Monash University

“Sites of Remembrance: Retracing Refugee Journeys and Contesting State Narratives”

This paper explores sites of remembrance for the Vietnamese diaspora in the form of the Galang Refugee Camp in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia, and the former Bien Hoa Military Cemetery in southern Vietnam. A recent journey to these sites illustrates the ways in which the Vietnamese state still seeks to control narratives of the war and its aftermath.

The Vietnamese diaspora was one of the largest and most significant mass migrations of the late twentieth century, with more than two million people leaving Vietnam from 1975 to 2000. Galang is the only former camp from that era to have been preserved and is a site of pilgrimage for Vietnamese survivors and their families. Bien Hoa Military Cemetery was the main military cemetery of South Vietnam.

Abandoned in the postwar years and left to decay, the cemetery has seen some recent restoration work funded by the diaspora, however access to the site is controlled by the Vietnamese authorities. Four decades after the end of the war, both sites are not only significant for the diaspora, but also continue to contest Vietnamese state narratives.

Friday, 2 December 2016, 9:00 am

Object Lab II, Room 255 , Arts West

Posted in Events, Languages and Linguistics

Rencontres: A Gathering of Voices of the Vietnamese Diaspora


A Gathering of Voices of the Vietnamese Diaspora

Organised by Dr Tess Do, French Studies, The University of Melbourne, and Dr Alexandra Kurmann, French and Francophone Studies, Macquarie University.

Anna Moï (France)
How the Vietnam War Shaped my Writing

Anna Moï states: "The Vietnam war has jarred my childhood and adolescence, but did not define me as a person and left no scars that I am aware of. However, it did strongly shape me as a writer. Writing about the war might very well be my expression of revolt against its indiscriminate violence."

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut (France)
Clever Mandarin, Hungry Ghosts and Men in Black

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut explores the history of Vietnam through crime novels set in the 17th century, a troubled period that led directly to French colonisation. Food, religion, medicine, politics, justice, science and legends are recurring themes in her work, highlighting not only Vietnamese culture, but also the relationship between Vietnam and its neighbours.

Marcelino Truong
The Vietnam War Revisited in Two Graphic Novels

Truong will discuss the purpose of, and techniques employed, in his graphic novels on the Vietnam War: Une si jolie petite guerre - Saigon 1961-63 (Denoël, 2012) (Such a Lovely Little War, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016) and Give Peace a Chance (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017).

Jean Vanmai (New Caledonia)
Une merveilleuse nouvelle (Wonderful News)

Reading from his documentary novel Fils de Chân Dang (Son of Chân Dang, Noumea, Édition de l'Océanie, 1980) about the life of the Vietnamese colonial workers in New Caledonia, Jean Vanmai will discuss the end of the Vietnam War and the impact of this news on the diasporic Vietnamese community in Nouméa.

Hoa Pham
Haunted Ethics: Writing about the Vietnam/American War

The Other Shore and The Lady of the Realm are both novels set in Vietnam exploring all sides of the Vietnam/American War. For the author, this raises ethical issues of representation that need to be negotiated in the writing and reception of the works. How these issues are addressed is the subject of Hoa Pham’s talk.

Chi Vu (Australia)
Writing for Two Separate Audiences - Anguli Ma: A Gothic Tale

Author and playwright Chi Vu talks about the tensions and possibilities of writing for both a broader readership and one's own minority community. Chi draws on her experience of writing Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale and discusses the issues involved in this writing process.

Thursday, 1 December 2016, 4:00 pm

Room 107, William Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts

Posted in Events, Languages and Linguistics

Global Histories of Refugees in the 20th and 21st Centuries


The plight of refugees has become the global issue of our times. The United Nations has estimated that over 65 million people worldwide are displaced as a result of conflict and persecution, the highest number since the 1990s. In most recent events, an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

Throughout the twentieth century and now into the early decades of the twenty-first century, involuntary displacement of peoples has become a defining feature of the modern era. This 3-day international conference seeks to explore all aspects of the history of the past and present plight of refugees.

It aims to address a broad range of questions relating to this history, such as:
- What has defined different refugee crises at different times in history?
- What has been the magnitude of the refugee crisis and how can we explain its scale?
- How have governments, humanitarian aid agencies, philanthropic and other organizations responded to refugee crises in modern times?
- What have they learnt from past campaigns?
- How have refugees experienced displacement?
- How has the refugee experience changed time?

Conference papers will explore themes such as:
- The place of personal testimony in understanding the histories of displaced people
- How the category of refugee has been defined in different times and places
- The changing process of regulation and administration of displaced people
- The role of place and space in understanding histories of displacement
- The relationships between historical and contemporary debates about refugees
- The place of gender, families and nations in understanding refugee histories
- The place of sound, speech, music and visual representations in refugee histories
- How displacement and migration has been remembered, and narratives used to understand these histories
- The historical and political work of humanitarian endevours with displaced people

Ticket prices: $55-$110

Thursday, 6 October 2016, 9:00 am

Melbourne Law School , Law, 185 Pelham Street

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

What Makes a Happy and Sustainable Workforce?


** Insights from a cross-national study of European organisations and employees,**

Economic and demographic trends are driving the need for a sustainable workforce in which employers are productive and satisfied, workplaces are cohesive, employment rates are high, and the economy is flourishing. Although much research in this area focuses on individuals and their families, organisational context needs to be considered to understand the reasons why certain employees are happy and productive and others are not.

Advocating a multi-level perspective, Professor Tanja van der Lippe will draw on new and unique data from the Sustainable Workforce ERC Project in which she and colleagues studied 11,000 employees in 260 organisations across Europe. In this research, they examined how workplace policies and characteristics intersect with job satisfaction and performance. Specifically, Professor van der Lippe will discuss and be able to answer questions about the advantages and disadvantages of the increasingly common trend of ‘working from home’.

Professor Tanja van der Lippe is the Head of the Department of Sociology at Utrecht University and the Research Director of The Inter-university Centre for Social Science Theory and Methodology in the Netherlands.

Monday, 14 November 2016, 5:30 pm

Theatre 219, Kwong Lee Dow Building, 234 Queensberry Street

Posted in Events, Social and Political Sciences

Culinary Cinema – Haute Cuisine


Presented by Jacqueline Dutton, Associate Professor in French Studies.

Les Saveurs du Palais (Haute Cuisine) is based on the true story of Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch, whose culinary talents took her from a Périgord kitchen to the Elysée Palace, as personal cook for Président François Mittérand.

This film tells the story of how simple regional cuisine triumphs over sophisticated ‘cuisine de chef’ in a political parable filled with nostalgia and longing for ‘la vieille France’.

When the President (Jean d’Ormesson) recruits Hortense (Catherine Frot), a renowned chef from France’s south-west, to indulge his yearning for the comfort food of his childhood, resentment and rivalries start to simmer in the Palace kitchens.

Is it Hortense’s cooking, attitude or gender that makes her success so hard for the other chefs to swallow?

We’ll discuss and debate these questions and others, giving you a glimpse of what it’s like to study our new food and wine subjects.

Our panel includes special guests Damian Sandercock, Gilles Lapalus and Ludovic Deloche, whose French-style charcuterie and wines will complement our culinary cinema experience!

Associate Professor Jacqueline Dutton is a leading researcher and writer on French culture and identity, teaching various courses on travel writing, food and wine, cinema, and literature

Thursday, 20 October 2016, 6:00 pm

Room 239, North Lecture Theatre, Old Arts

Posted in Events, Languages and Linguistics

On the Edge of Madness: Shakespeare and Cervantes


The University of Melbourne and the Instituto Cervantes, in commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, present the Seminar:

On the Edge of Madness: Shakespeare and Cervantes

What does it mean to be 'mad'? This word has fallen out of use as society has embraced inclusive ways of understanding and supporting people who live with mental illness. Yet, the literary allusions to madness are still alive, just as they were 400 years ago when Cervantes and Shakespeare let madness play a central role in their masterworks.

How did each of these early seventeenth century writers portray madness, and how were these representations a reflection, not only of their societies, but of how mental illness was understood more broadly? How do we understand and interpret figures such as Don Quixote, Lady Macbeth or King Lear today, and how have our understandings of the human condition changed over the centuries? How much did these iconic figures borrow from reality and how much from imagination?

Join internationally recognised mental health expert, Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla, acclaimed novelist and storyteller, Arnold Zable, and Hispanist and writer, Luke Stegemann, in a discussion about Cervantes, Shakespeare and the changing nature of madness and its manifestations in literature.

Thursday, 13 October 2016, 6:00 pm

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre, Arts West

Posted in Events, Languages and Linguistics