From heart-to-heart chats to 'national conversations', dialogue is often held up as a model of responsible and productive interaction. Yet at times, calls for more dialogue seem to mask monological presuppositions that 'everyone' will end up agreeing to the same thing.

In this talk, Professor Matt Tomlinson examines the different meanings of monologue and dialogue and the ways they are related in political and religious speech. Drawing on detailed and long-term ethnographic research in Fiji, Samoa, and Australia, he describes the ways in which political and religious speakers make claims about what counts as dialogue, who gets to participate, and what happens when dialogue fails to take shape or falls apart. Examples come from diverse contexts ranging from casual kava-session conversations to formal chiefly oratory and from spirit mediums’ dialogues with the dead to preachers’ assertions of what they consider universal truths. In examining the relationship between monologue and dialogue, Matt explores themes of challenge, vulnerability, consensus, and commitment. Ultimately, monologue and dialogue can be seen as always co-present tendencies in particular political and religious speech genres.

 

Agenda

6-7pm Academic Lecture

7-7.30pm Networking drinks & canapes

 

About the Speaker

Matt Tomlinson is Professor at the School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and the Pacific.

He is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies the relationship between language, politics, and religious ritual. His work focuses on how people organise themselves to communicate with 'extrahuman' figures (including God, ancestors, and spirits) and what social effects such ritual communication has.

Matt's diverse research interests encompass various aspects of Oceania, including Fiji, Samoa, and Australia. He delves into language, culture, religion, ritual, theology, Christianity, and spiritualism.

Read more about Matt's profile here.

 

Professorial Lecture Series

This public lecture is the second in a series of four lectures that aim to celebrate our esteemed academics and showcase their areas of expertise in research and teaching.

 

 

Professorial Lecture Series

This public lecture marks the culmination of our Professorial Lecture Series this year, a captivating series of four presentations, all dedicated to honouring our distinguished academics while highlighting their profound contributions to research and education.

 

About the event

Ambitious claims are often made today for big data analytics as the preeminent tool for understanding and predicting human behaviour. In this talk, Professor Benjamin Penny will 'zoom in' to consider the value of a micro- rather than a macro-perspective, focusing on the utility of the specific, the local, and the individual for analysing human society.

A famous aphorism, variously attributed to Roman Jakobson and Nietzsche, has it that philology is the art of reading slowly. It was only after Benjamin had completed many years of his education in Chinese that he realised that reading slowly had been the foundation of his disciplinary practice.

The intense focus philology has on the specific ramifications of each word as we read has been a key methodological underpinning of Benjamin's work. While 'big data' analytics undoubtedly has its value taking the specific instance seriously - a single life, one group of religious practitioners, the small data - can still be beautiful.

 

Agenda

6-7pm Academic lecture

7-7.30pm Networking drinks & canapes

 

About the speaker

Benjamin Penny is a professor of Chinese history and religion in the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. His research examines religious and spiritual movements in modern and contemporary China as well as in medieval times; Taiwanese religion and society, and expatriate society in the treaty ports in the nineteenth century.

Read more about Benjamin's profile here.