Conversations 2019 - Shaping society through stories: narrative as regulation

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Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 03 September 2019


Coombs Extension 1.04
ANU Canberra


Desmond Manderson, Myra Mentari Abubakar, Miranda Forsyth, Ashley Schram


Jill Mowbray-Tsutsumi

“Story enculturates the youth. It defines the people. It tells us what is laudable and what is contemptible. Story is the grease and glue of society: by encouraging us to behave well, story reduces social friction while uniting people around common values. Story homogenizes us; it makes us one.”

(Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human)

Fairy tales, movies, art, the media – they all convey stories that produce, and reproduce, the norms and values of a society within a given time and space. What did the stories of your childhood teach you about virtues and vices, masculinity and femineity, heroes and villains? What do the daily newspapers, the evening news, or the latest tweets say about personal responsibility or collective action, about what we as a society should value or fear? How do these stories seek to regulate our behaviour?

This panel will open our series on Narration and Re-narration as Regulation by exploring how stories and narratives shape both formal and informal regulatory processes in Australia and the Asia and the Pacific Region.

Speakers in this session are:

Professor Desmond Manderson (ANU College of Law) Professor Desmond Manderson is an international leader in interdisciplinary scholarship in law and the humanities. He is the author of several books including From Mr Sin to Mr Big (1993); Songs Without Music: Aesthetic dimensions of law and justice (2000); Proximity, Levinas, and the Soul of Law (2006); and Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law—The legacy of modernism (2012). Throughout this work Manderson has articulated a vision in which law’s connection to humanist disciplines is critical to its functioning, its justice, and its social relevance. After ten years at McGill University in Montreal, where he held the Canada Research Chair in Law and Discourse, and was founding Director of the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, he returned to Australia to take up a Future Fellowship in the colleges of law and the humanities at ANU.

Myra Mentari Abubakar (PhD Candidate, Gender, Media and Cultural Studies) Myra is currently a PhD Candidate in the School of Culture History and Language. Her dissertation is: “Tjut Nyak Din, a Study of Female Heroism in the Land of Sharia” and examines how heroism is constructed in different textual sites, such as national hero lists, selected indigenous literature, and film. This research also seeks to theorize the idea of female heroism in Aceh, Indonesia, through a historical heroine figure, Tjut Nyak Din and to evaluate the changing important of this idea from 19th century to the present. At the same time, it also identifies the way in which textual, cultural, and state representations of Tjut Nyak Din reveal tensions in Dutch, Indonesian, and Acehnese ideologies of gender. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Myra was a lecturer at several universities in Aceh, Indonesia.

Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth (School of Regulation and Global Governance) Miranda Forsyth is an Associate Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the College of Asia and Pacific at ANU. Prior to coming to ANU, Miranda was a senior lecturer in criminal law at the law school of the University of the South Pacific, based in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Miranda is the author of A Bird that Flies with Two Wings: Kastom and State Justice Systems in Vanuatu (2009) ANU ePress and co-author of W_eaving Intellectual Property Policy in Small island Developing States_, Intersentia 2015.

The central analytical question animating Miranda’s scholarship is: How can people’s diverse justice needs be best met in contexts of multiple legal and normative orders? Her geographical focus has been primarily in the Pacific Islands region, particularly Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. She has investigated this central question through a number of different projects, including the relationships between state and kastom justice in Vanuatu; a pluralistic approach to the regulation of intellectual property in the Pacific Islands; the potential of restorative justice for the region; the promise and challenges of community rule-making; and overcoming sorcery accusation related violence in Papua New Guinea. Miranda draws creatively upon theories and methodological approaches from the disciplines of law, anthropology and criminology to address these questions, working in close partnerships with Pacific islands researchers and research institutions.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet