National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

June Perkins
Doctorate student, English Dept, University of Sydney.

49 Seconds to reconciliation? A do-it yourself guide to running in Anti-colonial spikes

Something was in the air [the republic referendum, the official close of the formal reconciliation process, the tent embassy at Victoria Park, walks across bridges for reconciliation, the Nike advertising campaign] when a 400 metre women's Olympic race became an icon of the nation imagining itself reconciled. You could see it clearly as flags entwined, union Jack replaced by Aboriginal flag on the Australian flag, and the wave of media belief that challenges of prejudice, history, apologies could all be overcome through the unifying force of sport. What does the response to "Cathy's" race say about Australia's image of itself and how it appears to the rest of the world? This paper is a guided tour of the newspaper and women's magazine coverage of Cathy's Olympic campaign, race and what happened to her afterwards, with anti-colonial spikes provided by luminaries such as bell hooks, and marcia langton.

June Perkins, doctoral topic is Rituals and Texts of identity formation and resistance of indigenous women. She is based at the University of Sydney and is a Bahai, writer and dedicated parent, of Mekeo (Papua New Guinean) and Australian background. She has also worked in community arts and as a community development officer and tutor.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops