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CONF: Graphic Encounters (Melbourne, 7-9 Nov 18)

To be held 7-9 November in Melbourne, the Graphic Encounters conference will be presented by La Trobe's Department of Archaeology and History and the Centre for the Studies of the Inland. The conference hopes to provide a welcoming, inclusive forum in which conversations can be started, and in some cases continued, on prints depicting Aboriginal Australians. There are many, diverse people interested in this colonial visual archive within and beyond the academy - scholars, librarians, bibliophiles, art historians, curators, artists, collectors, dealers, researchers, descendants, community - and we very much want to open the conference to different approaches and formats in the presentations and panels.

Graphic Encounters is an Australia Research Council project led by Dr Liz Conor and based in the Department of History and Archeaology at La Trobe University. It intends to decolonise the colonial visual archive, spanning images from voyages of exploration to federation. This formative colonial visual library will be collated in a comprehensive online database to be made available (subject to cultural permissions) to Aboriginal researchers, artists, curators, descendants and community of the Aboriginal people who were depicted - often without names and anonymised as racial types. The prints are often very confronting, and were created, disseminated and commodified to foment and entrench the assumptions and perceptions about Aboriginal people, which justified their violent dispossession and recurring discrimination over generations. We hope to make this collated archive of prints of Aboriginal Australians available to interested communities and we are seeking funds to create opportunities to involve Aboriginal researchers and artists to critically interrogate this visual archive of their ancestors and country.

We particularly want to avoid another academic talkfest given these prints have Aboriginal content, they are therefore part of Aboriginal heritage and the way they are discussed needs to be of use and interest, first and foremost, to Aboriginal people. The conference aims to prioritise Aboriginal perspectives on this colonial visual library and give scope to the many different kinds of people interested and involved in these prints.

Registration for the conference, including a tour of the Australian Print Workshop, can be found via the 'External Link' below.

To learn more about confirmed speakers, visit


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