Files, Families, and the Nation

Dr Jordana Silverstein will deliver the first paper in our 'Naturalization' seminar series on 6 May 2021.

Date and time: Thursday 6 May 2020,  4:30pm AEST

Location: Online through Zoom meeting software. To access the meeting, please copy the below link into your browser and use the password provided.

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Abstract: Having arrived in Australia in 1949 with 'stateless ex Polish' written as his nationality on his landing document, on 2 August 1957 my grandfather, Wolf Stawski, was naturalised in Melbourne. Many years later, as part of the process of researching my family's history, the archivists in the National Archives of Australia opened his naturalisation file, making it accessible to me and my family to read. In this paper I want to think about the role that such applications play, the knowledge about families that they contain and obscure, and how we make sense of ourselves and our place within our familial and national histories through such archival documents. What knowledge, what understanding, about naturalisation and its role in the lives of people living in Australia, can we learn through meditating on one man's file? In this paper I will think this through.

Photo of Jordy Silverstein

Speaker: Dr Jordy Silverstein is an Honorary Fellow in History at the University of Melbourne, and a researcher based in ACJC at Monash University and the Department of Archaeology and History at La Trobe University. She is the author of Anxious Histories: Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century (2015), and co-editor of Refugee Journeys: Histories of Resettlement, Representation and Resistance (2021)andIn the Shadows of Memory: The Holocaust and the Third Generation (2016). She studies the long aftermath of the Holocaust, histories of Australian Jewish sexuality, and histories of Australian child refugee policy from the 1970s to the present.

The session will be chaired by Dr Marc Mierowsky. Marc is a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow in English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is one of the editors of The Correspondence of Daniel Defoe (Cambridge UP, 2021) and co-editor with Nicholas Seager of Defoe’s Roxana for Oxford World’s Classics (Oxford UP, 2022). His monograph A Spy Amongst Us: Defoe’s Secret Service and the Campaign to End Scottish Independence is forthcoming with Yale University Press. He is currently working on a literary history of Jewish naturalization in the period 1714-1850.

This online seminar is co-hosted by the ERCC and the Australian Centre.

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