Freilich Project 2019 Overview

Monday 16 December 2019

As we enter the festive season a very busy year, it is an opportunity to look back at the Freilich Project's activities in 2019.

This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry (formerly the Freilich Foundation). Over these decades, the Project has remained committed to the guiding values laid down in the original charter of 14 July 1999: (a) To fund study and research both within and outside the Australian National University into the causes, histories and the effects of ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual bigotry and animosity; (b) To engage in all forms of education of the public into such history, causes and effects of bigotry and intolerance, including the promulgation of arguments, strategies and other resources for the reduction and overcoming of such bigotry and intolerance; and (c) To advance all forms of mutual tolerance and respect between peoples of differing ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and of differing gender and sexual orientation.

This year also marks ten years since the passing of Herbert Freilich, whose values continue to underpin all the Project’s activities. Herbert’s widow, Mrs Valmae Freilich, continues to oversee the Project as a member of the Advisory Board, along with Professor Will Christie, Professor Rae Frances and Ms Felicity Gouldthorp of the ANU, Professor James Arvanitakis of Western Sydney University, Dr Renata Grossi of the University of Technology, Sydney, and Emeritus Professor Suzanne Rutland of the University of Sydney.

The Project has been noticeably active in this anniversary year, hosting twelve public events, detailed below. In addition to the Annual Freilich Lecture on Bigotry and Tolerance, the Annual Alice Tay Lecture on Law and Human Rights, and the regular seminars and lectures, the Project also organized a twentieth anniversary reception in September at University House, and published a booklet detailing the past twenty years of activities. We were pleased to host the outgoing Chancellor, Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans for two events; in addition to providing the keynote speech at the anniversary reception, Chancellor Evans also spoke at the Africa week lecture. The Herbert and Valmae Freilich Annual Early Career Research Small Grant scheme continues to grow in stature, with thirty high quality applications for the three awards announced on Friday the 13th of December.

11 April 2019: The Effects of Exposure to Religious Music on Unconscious Bias Against Gay Men

Dr Joel Anderson of the Australian Catholic University, and recipient of the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Early Career Researcher Small Grant, presented preliminary results from his experimental research on the role of religious music in stimulating bias.

24 May 2019: Africa Week Lecture -- The Responsibility to Protect in Africa

The Freilich Project and the HRC hosted ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Affairs Minister, the Honourable Gareth Evans, for the 2019 Africa Week lecture, in the lead up to Africa Day on May 25. The lecture drew on Chancellor Evans' expertise in international human rights and humanitarian law. With the High Commissioners of Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda in attendance, Chancellor Evans emphasized the pivotal role of a number of African states and African leaders in developing the principle of the responsibility to protect, disproving the assumption that leaders in the Global South are more concerned with state sovereignty than human rights protection. You can read the transcript of the Chancellor's remarks here. You can keep up to date with all Africa-related events at the ANU here.

29 May 2019: Annual Alice Tay Lecture on Law and Human Rights

Named in memory of the late Alice Erh-Soon Tay, Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney and a former member of the Freilich Advisory Board, this year’s Alice Tay Lecture was presented by Monash University’s Associate Professor Kate Seear. Asking “Can Sport Survive a Human Rights Critique?” the lecture highlighted several notable examples of human rights debates erupting in the field of sport, including the case of former Bahraini international footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, the focus of an international campaign to see him released from custody in Thailand. The case of South African sprinter Caster Semenya was also analysed at length, with Professor Seear critiquing the spectacle of the ongoing scrutiny of her gender. The audience discussion ranged across a number of areas, including past victories for inclusion in sport, and ongoing challenges around gender inclusivity in Australian junior sport. You can listen to the lecture on Soundcloud.

3 September 2019: The International Criminal Court: Fighting Impunity or Failing Africa?

The Freilich Project was privileged to host His Excellency Matthew Neuhaus, Australia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Representative to the International Criminal Court (ICC), for an informal lunchtime seminar on the past, present and future of the International Criminal Court. The Ambassador turned to T. S. Eliot to explain the complex workings of the ICC: “Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow.” Contextualizing the development of the ICC amidst the background of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, Ambassador Neuhaus discussed a number of pertinent cases, including Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Noting ongoing measures to reform and improve the ICC’s performance, Ambassador Neuhaus returned again to T. S. Eliot, warning that the enterprise of the ICC may come to an end, “Not with a bang but with a whimper,” but such an outcome would be a victory for war criminals.

19 September 2019: Twentieth Anniversary Reception

Members of the Freilich family joined with past and present Convenors and Advisors of the Freilich Project, and with dozens of friends and supporters of the Project’s initiatives, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry. See a full overview of the event here.

27 September 2019: Human Rights in the Age of Inequality: Xenophobia, Exclusion and the Myth of the Strong Leader

The Freilich Project was pleased to join with ANU’s Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies to welcome Dr Kostis Karpozilos, director of the Contemporary Social History Archives in Athens, and Professor Dimitris Christopoulos, President of the International Federation for Human Rights and Professor of State and Legal Theory at Panteion University in Athens. In their critical overview of the development of human rights, focused equally on European history and the present crises of economic inequality and right-wing populism, the retreat from human rights we are witnessing today is inexplicable but for the emergence of neoliberalism, which detached social rights from the broader body of human rights.

31 October 2019: Annual Freilich Lecture on Bigotry and Tolerance

Twenty years after he first presented the annual Freilich Lecture on Bigotry and Tolerance, one of Australia's most prominent journalists, David Marr, returned to the Freilich Project. Titled “An Australian Story: The Politics of Bigotry in a Tolerant Country,” his 2019 Freilich Lecture was a wide-ranging and passionate address. The lecture was introduced by Professor Rae Frances, Dean of ANU's College of Arts & Social Sciences and a member of the Freilich Project Advisory Board. “As we celebrate twenty years of the Freilich Project this year, we also mark ten years since the passing of Herbert Freilich,” Professor Frances told the audience. But in his career over many decades, David Marr embodied Herbert Freilich's vision and values of reason and toleration, she added.

08 November 2019: Young People and Old Prejudices in Mindanao (Philippines)

Primitivo III Ragandang (“Prime”), a PhD student in the Philippines Project of the ANU’s School of Regulation and Global Governance, presented his ongoing research on youth activism and peacebuilding in Mindanao. Describing the Mindanao conflict as one of the oldest in the world, dating back over four centuries, he discussed the complexities of peacebuilding in a rapidly changing region of the world.

13 November 2019: LGBTI Refugees: Erasure, Silencing and Heteronormativity

The Humanities Research Centre offers an annual competitive grant to PhD students to facilitate a conference; this year the conference Queer Displacements: Sexuality, Migration and Exile was organized by Renee and Tina Dixson, of the Centre for Digital Humanities Research and the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. Over 100 delegates squeezed into the Sir Roland Wilson Building for an event that combined academic, activist and first-person perspectives on the experiences of LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers. Opening the panel in his capacity as the Convenor of the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry, Dr Ibrahim Abraham read from the reminiscences of Herbert Freilich about growing up in Sydney in the 1930s, witnessing Jewish refugees from fascist Europe subject to xenophobic abuse.

29 November 2019: Recollections of the Future: The Uncomfortable Cosmopolitanism of Migrant Histories

The Freilich Project joined with ANU’s Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies to welcome Emeritus Professor Sneja Gunew of University of British Columbia to the ANU to discuss the challenge of documenting migration and multiculturalism. Professor Gunew argued that rather than relying on interviews with migrants to reconstruct the lives of multicultural and cosmopolitan societies, literature and other creative works offer crucial insights into the diversity of the lived experience.

04 December 2019: “Now I am Dead”: Anthropological Encounters with the Other

Coinciding with the annual conference of the Australian Anthropological Association, the Freilich Project hosted Isabel Bredenbröker of Goethe University, Frankfurt, for the screening of her unique ethnographic film, “Now I am Dead”. When Bredenbröker’s grandfather passed away in Germany while she was conducting research in Ghana, the perspective of the foreign researcher became tragicomically inverted. The wider history of ethical relations and representations in social scientific research were discussed, a particular concern of the Freilich Project which supports many research projects within which the ethics of representation can be problematic.

9 December 2019: Ian Iqbal Rashid and Omar Sakr

The Humanities Research Centre and the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry closed a busy year of public events by hosting an evening of poetry and short films exploring the complexities of sexuality, culture, faith and identity. London-based poet, screenwriter and filmmaker Ian Iqbal Rashid, recipient of the Writer's Guild of England Award and the Aga Khan Award for Excellence in the Arts, read selections from his poetry collections and screened two early short films, Surviving Sabu and Stag. Sydney-based poet Omar Sakr also shared new poetry and selections from his previous collection These Wild Houses and his new collection The Lost Arabs. The performance had a rather profound technical interruption: "... midway through my poem, someone's Siri activated and her voice blared into the room: "Sorry, I can't help you with that" and I paused, then replied "I know you can't, habibi," and everyone laughed. It was a sweet, sad moment." The evening concluded with a discussion of the poets’ influences, including Allen Ginsberg and Margaret Atwood, and with Omar Sakr signing copies of The Lost Arabs for appreciative audience members.

13 December 2019: Freilich Early Career Small Research Grant Winners Announcement

We received a record thirty applications for the three $5000 grants to assist research into the causes, the histories and the effects of ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual bigotry and animosity. The winners of the 2019 round are:

  • Dr Helen Adam (Edith Cowan Univesity) & Dr Sally Murphy (Curtin University) for the project “Investigating Overt and Covert Perpetuation of Prejudice and Bigotry in Children’s Picture Books Recently Published in Australia”
  • Dr Iva Glisic (Australian Academy of the Humanities ) for the project “The Art of Justice in the Western Balkans”
  • Dr Mia Martin Hobbs (University of Melbourne) for the project “Being the ‘Other’ in the War on Terror: Race, Gender and Bigotry in Western Militaries since 9/11

Next year's round of grants will be advertised in September 2020, under thoroughly revised conditions of award.

Updated:  16 December 2019/Responsible Officer:  Freilich Project/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications