Doing cultural research is a critical activity in relation to ideas of co-existence between human beings themselves, and between the human and non-human. Over the last two decades a conceptual rubric has emerged that attempts to grapple with co-existence in new ways. The concept of cosmopolitanism, for example, has become one of the key frames through which co-existence has become increasingly theorised and re-contextualised by cultural theorists, philosophers, sociologists and political scientists. What has been discovered more than ever is how the concept of cosmopolitanism is full of complex tensions. In my paper I want to explore the value of cultural research with particular attention to the compelling question of co-existence. I will posit eight theses on what I regard as some of the key tensions faced in undertaking such research. As part of this exploration, I will draw on my own cultural studies research into issues of human rights in Southeast Asia.
Professor Baden Offord gave this Keynote Presentation at The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2013 in Osaka, Japan.
Professor Baden Offord
Baden Offord is an internationally recognised specialist in human rights, sexuality and culture. In 2012 he was a sponsored speaker, invited by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, together with the Human Rights and Democracy Network and Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation to the 14th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum in Brussels where he spoke on ASEAN and sexual justice issues. In the same year he conducted a three-week lecture tour of Japan sponsored by the Australian Prime Minister’s Educational Assistance Funds post the Great Eastern Tohoku Earthquake in 2011.
Among his publications are the books Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia (2003), Activating Human Rights (co-edited with Elizabeth Porter, 2006), Activating Human Rights Education (co-edited with Christopher Newell, 2008) and Activating Human Rights and Peace: Theories, Practices, Contexts (co-edited with Bee Chen Goh and Rob Garbutt, 2012). His most recent co-authored publication in the field of Australian Cultural Studies is titled Inside Australian Culture: Legacies of Enlightenment Values (with Kerruish, Garbutt, Wessell and Pavlovic, 2014), which is a collaborative work with the Indian cultural theorist Ashis Nandy. His latest chapter, 'Queer activist intersections in Southeast Asia: human rights and cultural studies,' appears in Ways of Knowing About Human Rights in Asia (ed. Vera Mackie, London, Routledge, 2015).
He has held visiting positions at The University of Barcelona, La Trobe University, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and Rajghat Education Centre, Varanasi. In 2010-2011 he held the Chair (Visiting Professor) in Australian Studies, Centre for Pacific Studies and American Studies, The University of Tokyo. In Japan he has given lectures and research seminars at Chuo, Otemon Gakuin, Sophia, Tohoku and Keio Universities.
Prior to his appointment at Curtin University, he was Professor of Cultural Studies and Human Rights at Southern Cross University, where he was a faculty member from 1999-2014.