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Ceridwen Spark

Ceridwen Spark

Ceridwen Spark is an Associate Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. She conducts research on gender and social change, with an emphasis on the Pacific. 

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Very Big Journey: My life as I remember it' by Hilda Jarman Muir

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
In her recently published collection of critical writing by indigenous Australians, Michele Grossman notes that ‘[s]ince the early 1980s, the burgeoning interest in and publication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing …has become increasingly well-established’. This is particularly true when we consider the success of life-writing by Aboriginal women in the last twenty years. Sal ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Helpem Fren: Australia and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands' by Michael Wesley

July 2023, no. 455 30 May 2023
It would be interesting to know how many Australians have heard of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). My guess is that not many have, and then only vaguely. It is interesting, then, that Melbourne University Publishing has published a book about the mission. Written by political scientist Michael Wesley, Helpem Fren is a detailed and meticulously researched account of the ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Secrets Behind My Smile' by June Dally-Watkins, 'Kerryn and Jackie: The shared life of Kerryn Phelps and Jackie Stricker' by Susan Mitchell, and 'Rose' by Robert Wainwright

April 2003, no. 250 11 October 2022
According to Andrew O’Hagan, writing in a recent London Review of Books: ‘If you want to be somebody nowadays, you’d better start by getting in touch with your inner nobody, because nobody likes a somebody who can’t prove they’ve been nobody all along.’ The journey from Nobody-hood to Somebody-hood is central to June Dally-Watkins’s recent autobiography. Indeed, O’Hagan’s pithy i ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Rising Tide: Among the islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean' by Tom Bamforth

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
During cold southern winters, the islands and atolls of the Pacific seem to offer an idyllic escape. Advertisements for cheap flights to Fiji or New Caledonia present smiling ukulele players and al fresco massages. More bleakly, despairing islanders, by virtue of their place of birth, experience the devastation wrought by urbanisation and the climate crisis. For Melbourne writer Tom Bamforth, the ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Sea People: The puzzle of Polynesia' by Christina Thompson

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
When asked to review Sea People: The puzzle of Polynesia, I thought it might be hard work – improving, but not necessarily fun. I could not have been more wrong. The book is a triumph. Exploring the remarkable history of Polynesian migration to the ‘vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island’, it is magnificently researched, assured, and elegant in both structure an ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and the future of liberalism' by Russell Blackford

March 2019, no. 409 11 January 2019
Recently I was speaking with a friend about the impact of the #MeToo movement on gender politics and the implications for male academics. He suggested that there are only two speaking positions for men. The first is as a cheerleader from the sidelines. The second is as a critic, offering challenges or raising questions. But, he said, for those who would like to be viewed as politically left, the f ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Traumata' by Meera Atkinson

August 2018, no. 403 26 July 2018
At first glance, Traumata seems to provide an exception to the rule not to judge a book by its cover. Featuring photos of the author’s mother, a woman in her forties, alongside photos of the young Atkinson on the precipice of adolescence, the cover portrays the filial relationship that is central in this memoir. But Atkinson’s exploration is much more kaleidoscopic than the cover suggests. Whi ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Book of Thistles' by Noëlle Janaczewska

December 2017, no. 397 24 November 2017
Every Saturday around Australia, the suburbs hum with the sound of lawnmowers. While cutting grass, the mowers simultaneously decapitate the milk thistles (also known as sow thistles) that sprout in most gardens around the country. But this rude beheading is little more than an inconvenience from which these hardy plants soon recover. Perhaps this is why, despite their benign name, milk thistles r ... (read more)

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Anaesthesia: The gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness' by Kate Cole-Adams

August 2017, no. 393 25 July 2017
In 2009, pop star Michael Jackson, desperate to sleep, called his personal physician, Conrad Murray. To relieve the troubled star, Murray administered Propofol and anti-anxiety medications, then left. Jackson was found dead the next morning. Murray was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Most people who have had a general anesthetic in the last twenty years have had Propofol. It is th ... (read more)