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The Australian National University

Dr Katarzyna Williams

PhD (University of Lodz, Poland); Diploma of Education (University of Wroclaw, Poland); MA (University of Wroclaw, Poland); BA (University of Wroclaw, Poland)
Visiting Fellow, Centre for European Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 02 6125 6603

Areas of expertise

  • Comparative Literature Studies 200524
  • Literary Theory 200525
  • Migrant Cultural Studies 200208
  • Multicultural, Intercultural And Cross Cultural Studies 200209
  • Drama, Theatre And Performance Studies 190404

Biography

Katarzyna Williams is an assistant professor at the British and Commonwealth Studies Department, University of Lodz, Poland, and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for European Studies, Australian National University, Canberra. Her main research interests include literary theory, utopian literature, diasporic literature, digital media and Renaissance studies. Her publications include a monograph Deforming Shakespeare: Investigations in Textuality and Digital Media (2009). Her current work deals with myth and images of Australia in European literature and culture.

Researcher's projects

1. ANUCES Visiting Fellowship 2012-2013 - Investigating cultural margins: migrant writing and Eastern European understanding of Australia

The aim of the project is to identify and examine cultural products and phenomena which reflect the forces shaping the relationship between Eastern European countries and Australia. It is to analyze the processes of creating the myth of Australia and the Pacific Region that developed in Eastern European culture, identify the reasons for its validation and persistence, and define its meaning and consequences for current cross-cultural relations.

The perception of Australia in Eastern European cultures developed gradually, instigated by eighteenth-century French and British narratives, influenced by European colonial and imperial desires (also present in Eastern European culture), and shaped by the socio-political situation and national struggles of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the First and Second World Wars and communism. These usually idealistic projections of a distant land provided a counterbalance to the troubles Europe faced throughout centuries and contributed to creating a myth of a Pacific paradise, present in European culture till today.

While everyday political, economic and business relations might not appear to perpetuate such myths or cultural preconceptions, various cultural texts including diasporic writing (here, texts by Eastern European migrants to Australia), memories, self-narratives, travel reports, and other forms of intercultural/multicultural artistic and social activity, to a certain degree, rely on or refer to the knowledge existing in social consciousness and disclosing utopian paradigms prominent in the way Australia was mythologized in the European imagination.

European “understanding” of Australia has moved beyond politically and socially charged representations of a distant utopia to participating in actual cultural dialogue. The enlargement of the European Union resulted in a situation in which questions of social diversification, multiculturalism and people’s movement across borders became urgent also for Eastern European countries. In spite of the distance and socio-cultural differences, Australia has come to be used as a model country, whose successes (rather than failures) serve as major case studies for a broad range of educational purposes from multicultural awareness campaigns in schools to informing the work of European policy makers. It is likely that with the growing crisis of the European Union, cultural representations of the relationship between Eastern Europe and Australia will again disclose more discernible utopian features and, in consequence, become a significant reference point for the understanding of concepts focal in shaping current European-Australian relations and cooperation such as multiculturalism, citizenship, tolerance, democracy, stereotype, political participation or migration movements. 

Bringing attention to the examples of peripheral cultural expression such as migrant writing, and factoring in of the connections between the imaginary and real views on intercultural realities, will aid in understanding a vast array of social and political processes taking place in the areas where cultural diversity and pluralism have become a major asset, including Eastern Europe.

Publications

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Updated:  27 May 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers