Vaughan Park Scholar in Residence
Dr. Julie Thorpe (Australia)
Julie received her PhD in History from the University of Adelaide in 2007 and from 2007-2009 held visiting research and teaching positions at the Australian National University and University of Konstanz, Germany; Julie was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant for a study of World War One refugees in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the role of the international community in responding to the empire's displaced populations. She also has an interest in Catholic pilgrimage in Central Europe in the twentieth century.
Julie's project explores the role of silence in traumatic histories, drawing on the interdisciplinary work of scholars of pilgrimage, war and memory. The specific focus is an ethnographic collection of textiles embroidered by wartime refugees in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War that were sold to the Austrian Museum for Folk Culture after the war. The objects will be exhibited in Vienna in 2014 as part of the centenary commemorations of the war. Julie's role in working with the museum is to place the collection in its historical context, and to write (or stitch) silence into the history of these lost threads of war.
The role of silence in traumatic histories relates more broadly to a liberal tradition that removes religion to the private realm, but allows the return of the sacred into the state through mourning and commemorative practices. Yet there is a specific connection between the sacred and stories of dispossession in the etymological relationship between 'hospitality' and 'hostility'. This connotation of the sacred as something that is untouchable, and associated with both hosting and hating, has resonance with traumatic histories. If silence can be framed in the context of the sacred, and not just the politics of repression and essentialist debates about who has the right to speak, then declaring stories of dispossession sacred by making them accessible in the present through the absences of the past, will also require empathic responses that disrupt and displace conventional narratives about the past.
Dr. Robert Myles (NZ)
Robert recently completed his PhD in Theology at the University of Auckland, receiving a place on the Dean of Graduate Studies List for excellence in doctoral research. A revised version of his thesis is due to be published in 2014 by Sheffield Phoenix Press, entitled The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
Robert's research focuses on the interaction between the Bible and contemporary culture and politics. His current research project,The Bible and Class Struggle, draws on Marxist criticism to investigate the extent to which social class has been engaged by recent configurations of feminist, minority, postcolonial, and ecological approaches to the Bible. During his time at Vaughan Park, he will work on a section dealing with ecological approaches to the Bible in light of class and capitalism. How, for example, is climate change refracted through global capital to accentuate its underlying logics of inequality? While some eco-theologians and biblical scholars have called for a shift from liberation theology's "preferential option for the poor" to a more inclusive "preferential option for the Earth", Robert intends to determine whether this shift ends up displacing the concept of class struggle from its scope of analysis, and the relevance of class to ecological interpretations of the Bible.
Robert J. Myles
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