Conversations 2019- Changing the story book: Re-narration and re-storying as pathways to transformation

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This seminar was recorded on Tuesday 24 September at the Australian National University. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Re-storying is a powerful strategy that has been used in different contexts, particularly to re-centre marginalised or silenced voices. Re-storying dominant narratives can challenge tacit knowledge and taken-for-granted beliefs. What, then, is the potential for re-narration to lead to transformations in regulation and governance?


  • Using restorative justice to tell the stories of more-than-human victims of environmental crime

Dr Deb Cleland (ANU)

As regulators grapple with questions posed by movements seeking to give legal standing to more-than-human entities, they are also facing criticism that criminal and fine-based civil penalties sideline and silence victims, leaving place-based communities fractured and unable to heal. Restorative justice offers a possible path forward through non-judicial options to repair, rehabilitate and regenerate spaces, ecosystems, neighbourhoods and atmospheres damaged through environmental offences. Some of these entities have more straightforward, if not always empowered, means of telling their stories through talking. For others, their experiences may be only understandable through proxies or the senses – think of the smells, sights and sounds of a river poisoned by human activity. To this end, we may need to reconfigure what storytelling means, and offer up a more sensual understanding of narration and renarration for environmental justice and regulation.

  • The weight of “fitting the description”: Black youth’s narratives of Canadian policing

Kanika Samuels-Wortley (University of Waterloo)

Emerging research reveals that Indigenous and Black youth often feel that they are targeted by police and subsequently lose confidence in those who are designated to serve and protect. Quantitative studies in Canada have established that Black and Indigenous youth are more likely to come into contact with police than youth from other racial backgrounds. Drawing on Critical Race Theory, the presentation examines how Black youth narratives frame the impact of perceived racial bias by the police. By revealing lived realities of bias and discrimination in youth and police interactions, the narratives highlight how policing can perpetuate racism by upholding stereotypes of the dangerous Black offender. These narratives also, however, reveal expressions of hope in improving police and minority youth relations, which open up possibilities for policy and regulation.

  • What is Aboriginal agency?

Aileen Marwung Walsh (ANU)

The writing of history is a constant process of re-writing with new understandings of the past to better understand the present. Historians are therefore key agents. Dominant ideological narratives are forms of regulation often ignored or expressed culturally. Ideological narratives have constructed the world as we now know it, with Whiteness informing them in many ways: White blindness, Whiteness as entitlement, Whiteness as progress, Whiteness as development, Whiteness as racism and Whiteness as superiority. Using the example of Aboriginal history, a contested area, this presentation considers one of the myths in historiography: that there is no way of knowing exactly what happened at any given time in the past. It considers how this common practice can be understood as wilful ignorance and conformity to a dominant ideology, addressing the perspectives of two adversarial camps.


Associate Professor Kate Henne (RegNet, ANU)

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