Movie Session 1: Docos for Politicos
The films of acclaimed director Johan Grimonprez were presented daily under the title of “Docos for Politicos: The Illegal We do Immediately, the Unconstitutional Takes a Little Longer.” In this first session, two movies, Besmette Stad (part 1): Video-Guerrilleros (1994-2007) and dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997) were screened, with director Johan Grimonprez engaging the audience during Q&A sessions.
Following the movie sessions, Director Johan Grimonprez was present for the Q&A session alongside Professor Theo Farrell and Professor Colin Wight.Referring to the second movie shown, dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, Professor Farrell described it as a “wonderful montage of cultural history”. Alongside the movie’s director, Johan Grimonprez, both professors facilitated a fascinating discussion on the legitimacy of state violence and how the definition of ‘terrorism’ has expanded over recent years, which Professor Wight suggested could make the term meaningless. The discussion drew on the history of airline hijacking and hypothesized as to its use as a terrorist act now and in the future.
Prof. Theo Farrell highlighted his strong reaction from the presentation, in which he believed it was an invitation for the audience to consider the categories we apply to armed violence. A visual tension was constructed consistently throughout the films between violence used by state versus non-state actors and how these were framed as either legitimate or illegitimate. “This film invites us to unbuckle our safety belts and consider the violence enacted by state and non-state actors” – Prof. Theo Farrell.
Prof. Colin Wright felt that the films brought to mind a couple of key conceptions, namely, society as spectacle and the banality of evil. There was a rhetorical thread running through the film that suggests that the subversive role of the novelist, the creative that challenges the normative framework of society, has been replaced by more violent and dramatic actors such as the bomber, the hijacker or the terrorist. These non-state actors conduct literal bombing runs on the cultural zeitgeist. Prof. Wright disagreed with this theory, he highlighted the difference between novelists and terrorists in the sense that one has to convey an argument on a position while the other forces their perspectives through violence.
Johan Grimonprez described the films as a visual historical trajectory; he wanted to provide a roadmap on the varying ways the proliferation of media technology and mass media have influenced the representation of hijacking. A paradox was raised, that the media hijack the hijackers through their framing of events and individual actors. The fact that the film was produced pre 9/11 grants the subject matter a unique potency; the quiet premonitions of the footage encouraged the audience to consider the methods of political violence past, present and in the future.
Automated Content Analysis Presentations by Provalis Research
Provalis Research, a world-leading developer of text analysis software, is offering presentations in the Tech Zone on the Mezzanine level at 11:00 am every day (July 22nd to 25th). The 45-minute presentation demos Provalis’s content analysis program Wordstat. As Provalis founder Normand Péladeau explained, the program has applications in both academic and business contexts. Available in more than 50 languages, Wordstat allows users to perform a range of analyses of textual content. The program can identify the frequency of words, group together related concepts into topics and perform correspondence analysis.
Strengths of the program include the ability to import content in any format, including PDF, Excel and HTML, and processing speeds that make it possible to analyze one million words in 3-4 seconds. Wordstat is also able to analyze social media content, working with the API to analyze up to 18,000 Tweets every 15 minutes. Although Wordstat is used by commercial and government clients, its main function is to be used for academic research. Please come by and check out all the publishers and vendors who are exhibiting on the Mezzanine Level of the 25th IPSA World Congress of Political Science.
Plenary Session: Australia's Democratic Innovations
Lisa Hill and Antony Green kicked off the first Plenary Session of the 25th IPSA World Congress, introducing two of Australia’s many historic reforms which have become democratic benchmarks: the long-standing Australian practices of compulsory voting, and preferential electoral systems. These are just two of Australia’s many historic reforms which have become democratic benchmarks.
Professor Lisa Hill’s plenary speech, titled ‘Compulsory Voting in Australia: Effects, Public Acceptance and Democratic Justification’, raised arguments in support of compulsory voting in Australia. Lisa referenced several empirical studies in support of her position and used the Australian position to explain the optimal conditions for the successful implementation of compulsory voting, and how the voting method may work in other nation states.
In his plenary speech, titled Counting All Opinions: Australian Experience with Preferential Voting, Australia's leading election night analyst Antony Green focused on Australia’s history with preferential voting, the benefits of the system, and a comparative analysis of voting systems in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Additionally, Anthony explained how it can be used by political parties to influence the way people vote. Both speakers participated in an insightful Q&A session and responded to questions on topics such as Indigenous voter turnout and voter apathy.
Scholars from Armenia to Uganda and Zimbabwe have travelled to participate in the 25th IPSA World Congress of Political Science being held in Brisbane Australia. Over 40 parallel sessions are being held showcasing early career researchers and many of the most accomplished and widely cited scholars in political science and international relations in the world.
NB: Please accept our apologies for the unanticipated issue of noise in the panel rooms. We have heard from many of you, and are working with the venue to improve the situation. Again, we sincerely apologize to the speakers and attendees who were impacted by this unfortunate logistical issue.
Over 1,500 delegates attended the opening ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The master of ceremony was Prof. Katharine Gelber, Australian Local Organizing Committee Chair and professor at The University of Queensland School of Political Science and International Studies. Prof. Gelber graciously welcomed the international delegates and guests, including the Honorable Stirling Hinchcliffe, MP (Queensland), and thanked the conference sponsors, in both English and French.
The ceremony began with a Welcome to Country and blessing by gajas (meaning elders) Shelly and Kerry’s from Goo’enpul-Yuggera and Ngunda-Kabi kabi and Walangama. The gajas called out to any other first peoples who may be in attendance, who also have experienced colonization. The gajas shared with the international delegates the role of Indigenous Australians as cultural custodians, recalling how sight, smells and the sound of leaves allowed them to navigate Earth of which they are custodians.
The Welcome to Country and blessing was followed by the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers’ breathtaking performance. The dancers travel the world extensively showcasing traditional Aboriginal culture through song, dance and other forms of cultural expression. They have performed alongside some of the world's greatest performers and cultural ambassadors.
The Hon. Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Spoke of Queensland’s geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity, spoke to the political history of Queensland’s parliament. Minister for Local Government, Hinchcliffe highlighted the inspiration Australian voting practises such as preferential and compulsory voting is experiencing in different electorates across the globe. Spoke of the social cohesion program being implemented by state government. Australia is home to over 220 languages, and people from over 200 countries and territories, who practice over 100 religions. Mr. Hinchcliffe cited Queensland’s efforts to open and modernize the state, which has both political and social benefits for residents and visitors. The Minister then declared the World Congress officially underway.
Next, IPSA President İlter Turan highlighted the IPSA’s mission and commitment to being a global organization by holding the World Congress in a different country biannually and at times, such as this instance, in less than central locations. Prof. Turan thanked delegates for the considerable time, effort and expense many had undertaken to travel to Brisbane. IPSA Vice President Prof. Marianne Kneuer also addressed the delegates.
Concluding the ceremony, the audience was treated to a stunning live set with the amazing Cigany Weaver quartet, one of Australia's most exciting gypsy-jazz ensembles, with a dedicated and passionate following around Australia. This was accompanied by a striking photo montage by the Visual Politics Strategic Research Program from the University of Queensland’s School of Humanities. The evening was capped off by a Welcome Reception on the Mezzanine level of the conference venue. The reception was an amazing opportunity to mingle and meet scholars from around the world.
* Contributing Editors: Alex Rubino, Amelia, Edwards, Isabella Fredheim, Bernadette Hyland-Wood and Molly Murphy.