Postgraduate Conference 2021

Thursday 11 and Friday 12 November 2021
Parramatta City Campus and Online via Zoom

Hybridity, Diversity, and Research is the theme for this year’s HDR Interventions and Intersections conference hosted by the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. As we observe the many new and diverse forms of hybridity that have emerged since the I&I conference last year, we invite all to join us as we contemplate and reflect upon our evolving forms of ideas, communications, and research. This year’s conference theme invites you to reflect on how your research reacts to and even creates new, hybrid modes of thinking, researching, and analysis which embrace diversity.

We invite all WSU student researchers in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts to participate in this year’s conference. We welcome students enrolled in the PhD, DCA, MRes, and MA to present critical or creative work in the form of scholarly papers, creative writing or multi-modal compositions. The conference is your opportunity to introduce your research or creative work to your peers and is an ideal first conference at which you can get the hang of presenting before an audience.

Dean’s Scholars and undergraduates considering a research pathway are especially encouraged to attend the conference and/or take up the opportunity to present a short paper of developing ideas. Undergraduate students even have the option for mentoring by academic staff in the lead-up to the conference!

We are working hard to make this conference an unmissable opportunity for your academic and professional development. You will not only network with your peers in different disciplines, but learn how to present your research before an audience and discover what exactly goes on behind the scenes at our masterclasses.

Although this conference has been planned for a hybrid, that is, dual online and face-to-face format, we are also mindful of the latest covid-19 news and restrictions in the Greater Sydney Region. In the event of prolonged restrictions, we are prepared to move to a fully online format. Presenters and attendees will be notified if such a change occurs a fortnight before the event.

Share Your Research - Submit an Abstract Below. ABSTRACT DATE EXTENDED TO  15th OCTOBER

Call for Papers - Submit an Abstract

We are excited to learn about your work, at any stage of your research, and are calling for presentation papers according to the three following time formats:

  • A 5-minute lightning talk
  • A 10-minute individual paper.
  • A 20-minute individual paper, followed by a 10 minutes for audience questions and discussion.

We ask that you submit a short proposal according to the requested criteria for your chosen paper length, for:

  • 5-minute papers, please submit:
    Title, an Abstract of up to 100 words, and a Biography that includes your name, Discipline, Degree, and research interests.
  • 10-minutes and 20 minutes papers, please submit:
    Title, an Abstract of up to 300 words, and a Biography that includes your name,  Discipline, Degree, and research interests.

Please email all proposals to, with the subject line of the email as the style of presentation you are proposing.

We are also calling for volunteers to moderate the sessions at the conference. If you are interested in joining our friendly and lovely team as a moderator, please submit your expression of interest to

Successful moderator volunteers will offered training in the Hyflex space and delivery or in Zoom.

The deadline for all submissions HAS BEEN EXTENDED to October 15, 2021.

Conference Theme

This year’s conference theme Hybridity, Diversity and Research invites you to reflect on how your research reacts to and even creates new, hybrid modes of thinking, researching, and analysis which embrace diversity.

  • What does hybridity mean to you and your research? Have new hybrid forms of researching and learning, (such as dual online and face-to-face formats brought about post-COVID-19) affected you and your work as a researcher or writer?
  • How has your work involved different research ideas or fields, and how do you handle that hybridity?
  • What does it mean to be diverse? How does your research/ field handle diversity? What insights and reflections does your work and research bring to an increasingly diverse world?  What is the importance of diversity to research?

Other possible ways to consider this year’s theme:

  • Inter or Trans-cultural communication
  • Styles of Learning
  • Accessibility
  • Theoretical perspectives that challenge accepted norms
  • Narratives of Diaspora/ Transformation
  • Boundary Crossings
  • Liminality
  • Destabilization
  • Diversity
  • Embracing Uncertainty
  • Intersectionality
  • Globalization
  • Multi-media or transmedia



Adama Kamara

Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Jumana Bayeh

Adama Kamara

Michael AhmadJumana Bayeh

Refugees and Meaningful Participation

Adama Kamara is the Deputy CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), the national umbrella body for refugees, asylum seekers and the organisations who work with them. RCOA has committed to providing opportunities for people with lived experience of displacement to have a prominent role in national and international discussions about refugee policy. Adama will discuss practical and meaningful ways that refugees can be included in decisions that affect their lives.


Adama recently joined the Refugee Council of Australia following a 10-year career in local government working on place-based community developed projects in western Sydney. Adama has personal and family experience of seeking asylum and supporting newly arrived refugees from her home country of Sierra Leone.

She has a passion for community led initiatives and is an advocate for meaningful participation. She has led co-design projects with young people, people seeking asylum, refugees, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and service providers.  One example is the multi-award-winning Refugee Camp in My Neighbourhood project, which she initiated and has led since 2014.

Speaking Australian

In 'Multiculturalism and the Ungovernable Muslim', anthropologist Professor Ghassan Hage observed that in the lead-up to the 2005 Cronulla Riots, "The cultural forms exhibited by some Lebanese-Australian youths ... that became generalised as ‘Lebanese behaviour’ and irked so many people were clearly a hybrid formation: the forms of working or under-class masculinity that were put on show were a touch Lebanese, but nothing that you can find exhibited in this way in Lebanon, except perhaps among Lebanese Australians living in Lebanon! They also contained a touch of the black and Latino American cultural subaltern hype that has been globalised by the mass media through the propagation of particular types of music, clothing, walking, etc." (2011, p.197).

As we mark the twenty-year anniversary of the 2001 September 11 attacks, distinguished scholar Dr Jumana Bayeh facilitates this crucial presentation and dialogue with multi-award-winning author, Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad, about the unique hybrid identities that emerged in the western suburbs of Sydney among culturally and linguistically diverse youth throughout the post-9/11 era.


Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founding director of Sweatshop Literacy Movement and editor of After Australia (Affirm Press, 2020). His debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014), won the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award. His second novel, The Lebs (Hachette, 2018) received the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Award. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University in 2017. His latest novel is The Other Half of You (Hachette, 2021).

Jumana Bayeh is Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. She is the author of The Literature of the Lebanese Diaspora: Representations of Place and Transnational Identity (I.B. Tauris, 2015) and several articles on the Arab diaspora fiction. She co-edited Democracy, Diaspora, Territory: Europe and Cross-Border Politics (Routledge, 2020), as well as a special issue on “Arabs in Australia” in Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies.


Presenter: Ashley Fell

Panel Discussion: Jasbeer Musthafa and Sukhmani Khorana

Ashley  JasbeerShkhmani

Understanding and engaging with Generation Alpha

There is a generation that comprises more than 1 in 7 residents, within 4 years they will outnumber the Baby Boomers, and many of them will live to see the 22nd Century. We’re talking about Generation Alpha, those born between 2010 and 2024. When they have all been born, they will number almost 2 billion - the largest generation in the history of the world. In this session a 20 minute film-recording of  Ashley Fell (author of the book Generation Alpha), will explore the world shaping this digital generation and what we all need to know to help this group of children shape their future ... and ours. This film showing will be followed by a panel discussion with two of Western Sydney University's academics working in this area: Jasbeer Musthafa and Sukhmani Khorana.

Ashley Fell is a Social Researcher, Author, TEDx Speaker and Director of Advisory at the internationally recognised McCrindle. From topics including future trends, business insights, leadership and communication skills, Ashley delivers over 50 visually engaging, tailored, and research-based presentations annually for corporate, government and not-for-profit clients in Australia and overseas. Ashley is the author of two books on leadership and generational change: Work Wellbeing and Generation Alpha. With academic qualifications in communications and as a generational expert, Ashley understands that leaders need to inspire and engage employees and consumers, and connect them with the organisation’s purpose and vision. Her expertise is in training and equipping leaders and teams on how to lead across generational divides; particularly Gen Y (popularly known as Millennials), Gen Z and now the newest generation, Generation Alpha. Ashley is regularly interviewed for print media, TV programs, radio and podcasts.

Jasbeer Musthafa’s research sits at the intersection of digital media, social exclusion, and race/ethnicity. His current works explore the critical role of digital media on mis/disinformation and the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion. Jasbeer comes with over a decade of media and communication professional experience. Jasbeer specialises in qualitative research methods including discourse analysis, news framing, thematic analysis, in-depth interviewing, and focus groups.

Dr Sukhmani Khorana is a mid-career cultural studies scholar with expertise in migration, media and affect. She was appointed as a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Young and Resilient Research Centre, Western Sydney University in 2020. She has published extensively on refugee media, transnational film and television, and food in inter-cultural contexts. Her recent research since joining Y&R aims to address gaps in young Australian migrants' use of digital technologies in various settings: environmental care, mothering and parenting, and civil society participation.


Leo Robba

Dennis Schmidt

Leo  Denny 

Art and Nature: Visualising for Planetary Health

This talk will provide a very personal account of the practicalities of en plein air painting and the wonderful connections that are made when an artist works directly for nature. Through his paintings artist Leo Robba, will discuss garden culture and the human obsession with reshaping nature. He will also introduce themes relating to art history, nature, the ecology, and planetary health, alongside, composition, idea generation, colour, blowflies, sunburn, and the enemy of the en plein air artist – wind! Following this engaging talk, Leo will analyse a painting in depth, focussing on the importance of slowing down and really 'seeing' what lies in a composition and the intentions behind a work.


Leo Robba is an accomplished designer, academic and artist with extensive experience in the design industry; as an academic teacher and researcher; and as a practicing artist. Since graduating from the Queensland College of Art and moving to Sydney he has held over thirty-five solo art exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand and has taken part in numerous group exhibitions both here and internationally. He currently lectures at Western Sydney University in Visual Communications, Design, in the following units: Graphic Design: The Professional Context; Social Design; Researching the Visual; and Design Histories and Futures.

Thinking through a text

This masterclass will offer a close reading of two brief passages - one from Plato's Republic and one from Celan's Atemwende - in order to demonstrate the careful attention to language that is required of a reader. Paying close attention to the language of these fascinating texts by looking at how they were translated into English will help show just what is needed for a slow and careful reading of a text. Taking a text to heart, taking it seriously and thinking through it is the real pleasure of reading.  The intention of this masterclass is to engage in that pleasure.  Copies of the texts (a total of 4 pages) will be circulated prior to the masterclass session. Absolutely no background in either philosophy or poetry is needed, now is any knowledge of either ancient Greek or German expected.  The aim of this session is to simply to awaken a sensitivity to language in texts and the real delight that can open up.


Dennis Schmidt, formerly Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and German at Penn State University, was appointed Professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. He is the author of several books, including Between Word and Image: Heidegger, Gadamer, and Klee (Indiana University Press, forthcoming), Idiome der Wahrheit (Klostermann Verlag, 2012), Lyrical and Ethical Subjects (SUNY Press, 2005), On Germans and Other Greeks (Indiana University Press, 2001), Hermeneutische Wege (co-edited with G√ľnter Figal, Mohr-Siebeck Verlag, 2000), and The Ubiquity of the Finite (MIT Press, 1988).