Ceridwen Spark

Ceridwen Spark

Ceridwen Spark is a Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Global Research at RMIT University. Most of her research is about gender and social change, with a particular emphasis on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Rising Tide: Among the islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean' by Tom Bamforth
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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Sea People: The puzzle of Polynesia' by Christina Thompson
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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and the future of liberalism' by Russell Blackford
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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Traumata' by Meera Atkinson
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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Book of Thistles' by Noëlle Janaczewska
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
Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Anaesthesia: The gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness' by Kate Cole-Adams
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)