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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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Cultural Exchange in a Global Era –rhetorical ambition or (im)possible post-colonial dream?: A critique of cultural diplomacy and exchange in the Global Era – with a focus on Australian cultural relations with Indonesia.

Amanda Johnson.

This paper will examine the ambitions of cultural diplomacy and exchange in a global era, with a focus on Australian cultural relations with Indonesia.

How can artists and writers participating in organised ‘cultural exchange’ effectively mind the 'gap' between developed and developing economies? How can Western artistic practice hope to valuably comprehend divergent national histories of modernism and post-modernism (both culturally and economically) without reverting to ‘exhanges’ characterised by neo-colonialist and largely superficial cultural commodifications?

What specific ethical and conceptual problematics face contemporary artists and writers seeking to construct critical inter-cultural relationships? How do post-colonial theoretical debates of otherness encapsulate in the action of institutionalised cultural exchange? Are artists able to expose the banal rhetoric of global cultural exchange, at the same time as generating richly particular creative responses to the (im)possibilities of inter-cultural engagement?


Amanda Johnson  (Australia)
Lecturer in Creative Writing
The Department of English with Cultural Studies
The University of Melbourne

Amanda Johnson is a writer and artist, currently teaching creative writing at the University of Melbourne.She is completing a PHD on recent representations of historical voice(s) in the millenial Australian novel. In 1998/9 she travelled to Indonesia on an Asialink residency, exhibiting her work and organising a series of workshops around comparative post-colonial representations of nature and the colonial city.

  • Cultural Exchange
  • Indonesia
  • Australia

(30 min Conference Paper, English)