This introduction begins by challenging a common narrative formed in relation to Australia—that it is a “lucky country.” This “exceptionalist” view of Australia is also evidenced in national legal frameworks relating to human rights. Drawing on histories of Australian politics, it is argued that social justice stems not from luck or an exceptional legislative system, but from various forms of social contestation. Especially since the global protests of 2011, more scholars are considering the organization, impacts, and practices of social movements that occur on a global scale. Despite the evolution of globalized protest, this collection is informed by Connell’s southern theory (2007), which identifies the unequal geopolitics of knowledge. The articles in this issue provide a diverse range of case studies that can inform protest practices and evidence the vitality of dissent in Australia. Activist knowledges and a quest for collaborative approaches to protest are the two elements that run throughout this issue of Contention.
Australian Protest in a Social Movement Society
Ben Hightower and Scott East
An Interview with Pauline Pantsdown (AKA Simon Hunt)
Ben Hightower, Scott East and Simon Hunt
There is often a division between scholarly publication and activist knowledge—something that Sarah Maddison and Sean Scalmer (2005) suggest may be countered by taking the knowledge produced by activists seriously. In this interview, Simon Hunt reflects on the genesis of Pauline Pantsdown, a drag persona that he developed in the late 1990s in reaction to Australian Conservative politician Pauline Hanson, who generated controversy for her racist and divisive views. The introduction briefly considers the importance of activist accounts and contextualizes Hunt’s practice in relation to arts activism and networked societies. From there, Hunt discusses a range of significant considerations for activism, notably the significance of using persona as a means for activism, the affordances and challenges of using social media, and methods for activating participation in a changing media landscape.