Features Australia

‘Sonic anti-colonialism’ sounds a bit off

When will the Coalition stand up for the taxpayer and stop giving grants to Marxist academics?

8 August 2020

9:00 AM

8 August 2020

9:00 AM

Last week, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced that the government will be dishing out $90.5 million worth of taxpayers’ money to 100 of the 690 applicants who applied to the Australian Research Council for a Future Fellowship grant. A perusal of the project descriptions reveals that the vast majority are extremely worthy ventures which will undoubtedly make a positive and indelible impact on both Australia and Australians’ lives.

Predictably however, there is an interesting selection of humanities projects which, for reasons only known to the selection committee, have managed to make the cut. The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, which appears to be staffed entirely by individuals who have devoted their lives to deconstructing knowledge and language while fighting the invisible systems of power, has done pretty well.

Megan Mackenzie, who is Professor of a discipline called ‘Gender and War’ in the Department of Government and International Relations has been awarded $1,052,328 for a project entitled ‘Eliminating Sexual Violence Within the Military.’ According to Professor Mackenzie, ‘Military sexual violence, or sexual violence that occurs within national militaries’ is ‘a complex and gendered international problem.’ Meanwhile her colleague, Associate Professor Sarah Phillips has been promised $1,006,500 so that she can conduct interviews with people in Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia to see how they feel about having to live under the yoke of such terrorists groups as al-Qa’eda, Isis, the Pakistani Taleban and al-Shabaab. I would be willing to wager that they do not feel all that great about it.

While Professor Philips is busy talking to Yemenites in Yemen, anthropologist Associate Professor Holly High will be chatting with Laotians in Laos about socialism and reproduction, as the ARC has thought it prudent to support ‘Cultural values, birth and parenting. Reproductive Health and Lao socialism’ with a generous gift of $922,400. Among other things, the project claims that ‘anticipated benefits include advanced understandings of Lao culture and society, socialism as it articulates with international health and economic agendas, and the anthropology of human flourishing.’


It is of course, not just the folk at the University of Sydney who have received grants. The University of New South Wales has been given $1,011,852 for ‘A Sonic Approach to Anti-colonialism in Interwar India’ which will ‘apply the methods of Sound Studies to the history of anti-colonialism in India. Extending on earlier work which draws extensively on visual archives to construct historical narratives, this project aims to explicitly trace the reverberations of sound – especially mediated speech, slogans and song – in anti-colonial mobilisation in the interwar period.’ A researcher ensconced at the University of the Sunshine Coast has been awarded $1,014,155 for ‘Saving Lies: Mapping the influence of Indigenous LGBITQ + creative artists.’ This project will entail ‘Using queer and critical race theories and a positively charged mapping of complex identities found in art and art-making.’

While this latest funding announcement has been very good news for these academics and their particular pursuits, especially given the extremely precarious state of the Australian university in 2020, it is very bad news for the Australian taxpayer. This is because the Australian taxpayer is paying for a movement whose aim is to obliterate the Australian way of life. As they go about their daily business trying to earn a living in these increasingly difficult times, Australians, through no fault of their own, are funding the very people who are engaged in a culture war which seeks to destroy the values and institutions of Western Civilisation.

Let us take Megan Mackenzie, who has long been generously funded by the taxpayer, as an example. In 2014, she received an Australian Research Council Grant worth $434,692 to fund a project entitled ‘Women in Combat: a comparative analysis of removing the combat exclusion’. Last year, she wrote an article for the taxpayer-funded ABC in which she proposed that masculinity is the biggest obstacle to climate action. While Mackenzie has clearly bought into the notion of white supremacy and the patriarchy, she should be reminded that large numbers of Australian taxpayers who are funding her research are white men. It is both ethically and morally wrong for researchers such as Mackenzie to continue to take money from hard-working Australians who they consistently deride in the public forum.

If academics such as these were to attempt to make a living from propounding identity politics, radical race and gender theory, they would not survive in this world. This is because there is no market among the general populace who naturally have little desire to pay to be insulted or told that they are racist. The harsh reality for those employed in the humanities is that without funding via other people’s money, they would struggle to earn their keep. We are in the middle of a very real crisis, yet these academics are still convinced that the most pressing issues of the day are patriarchy, heteronormativity and white supremacy.

The government needs to remember that it is spending the public’s money.

Two years ago, Minister Tehan announced the introduction of a National Interest Test (NIT) in which applicants would be asked ‘the extent to which the research contributes to Australia’s national interest through its potential to have economic, commercial, environmental, social or cultural benefits to the Australian community.’

According to Minster Tehan, the NIT would ‘give the minister of the day the confidence to look the Australian voter in the eye and say, “your money is being spent wisely”.’ It would certainly take someone of an exceptionally steely disposition to be able look the taxpayer in the eye and tell them that projects about ‘Lao socialism’, ‘Indigenous LGBITQ + creative artists’ or ‘A Sonic Approach to Anti-colonialism in Interwar India’ is their money wisely spent.

By continuing to fund academics obsessed with Marxism and identity politics, the Coalition is supporting a divisive progressive ideology which is contrary to tradition and contrary to what mainstream Australians know is right and true. As long as it keeps financing left-wing institutions, it will continue to lose the culture war.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Dr Bella d’Abrera is Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

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