What does justice look like? Whose issues gain political traction and which communities are left behind? How can we best invest our energies and resources, balance asks for protection, recognition and distribution, and engage in law reform processes without being swallowed up by the system? If our criminal justice system isn’t delivering justice at all, what alternatives exist? And instead of reacting to top-down policy, media headlines or electoral politics, how can we work together to nurture our long-term, generative, world-making projects that imagine justice beyond the terms of reference afforded to us by the state?
Join activists, academics and critical thinkers sharing their latest thought-provoking ideas about how we can learn from the past, identify potential pitfalls in our social movements, and build coalitions for intersectional change.
Listen to the Thinking Justice Podcast
Thinking Justice Episodes
In Episode 1 of Thinking Justice we explore the history of homosexual conversion therapy. Conjoint Professor Ivan Crozier, a historian of sexuality and psychiatry, discusses the legacies of sexology and medicine, the criminalisation of sexual perversions, corrective treatments in Australia’s gay prisons, and the risks of current regulatory responses.
In Episode 2 of Thinking Justice, we are joined by Dr Emma A. Jane and Dr Nicole A. Vincent to discuss regulatory responses to gendered cyberhate. We explore the escalation of online misogyny with the shift to interactive spaces of web 2.0, including particular patterns and techniques of abuse such as trolling, doxing, ‘revenge porn’, deep fakes and sextortion. Emma and Nicole have examined the formulaic structure of abuse over time by creating a ‘rape threat generator’ based on real-life cyberhate received by real-life women, which can be accessed at rapeglish.com. In this episode they discuss how online cyberhate targets women in media, politics and the tech industry, with a focus on Gamergate, and how perpetrators are not necessarily deterred by decreasing online anonymity. Facing a lack of systemic and legal remedies, they describe the emergence of individual ‘digilante’ tactics (to expose and shame perpetrators) and the role of technology in capturing, tracking and bringing accountability for online abuse.
In Episode 3 of Thinking Justice, Siobhan O’Sullivan uses liberal democratic principles to argue for better visibility, transparency and justice for animals. In light of the recent election of the Animal Justice Party to NSW and Victorian Legislative Councils, we consider the opportunities for animal advocates in Parliament. Siobhan argues that in Australia, the same species of animal will experience different levels of protection or suffering depending on whether they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’. We talk through key issues on the animal rights agenda, including the push towards recognising animals to have legal personhood (rather than property status), affording them a right to protections such as bodily liberty. We also cover some of the challenges in the movement for animal liberation, including the emergence of ‘ag-gag’ laws, which seek to prevent whistle-blowers from exposing cruelty in agricultural industries by prohibiting undercover filming, and the inconsistent definitions of terms like ‘free range’, ‘organic’ or ‘grain-fed’ in labelling practices across jurisdictions.
In Episode 4 we are joined by Zaahir Edries, former President of the Muslim Legal Network NSW, to discuss the broadening of police powers, erosion of civil liberties and diminishing human rights under the name of counter-terrorism. In the wake of the Christchurch Shootings, we consider how Islamophobia has been enshrined in Australia’s public policies over two decades to prime the conditions for terror attacks by white supremacists. With the Othering of Muslim communities in the media and a lack of vilification protections, we discuss the complicity of Australian governments in social exclusion.
In Episode 5 of Thinking Justice, Dr Dinesh Wadiwel talks us through different theoretical perspectives on justice. Drawing from various political philosophers, we consider how articulations of justice have been shaped by the cultural, social and historical environments in which they emerged. We focus on the work of critical race theorists, disability theorists, feminist scholars and anti-capitalist thinkers to critique the visions of freedom and rights that have been articulated by white western philosophers within the context of colonisation, slavery, patriarchy and class exploitation. We ask what history tells us about the material realities of domination, oppression and violence. If capitalism sustains the inequitable distribution of wealth and income, if whiteness involves a collective delusion about how states have come into being (ignoring theft of sovereignty, genocide and extortion of resources), if we are not rational self-serving self-sufficient individuals but instead communities imbricated in systems of inter-dependence and caring, then how do we imagine what justice looks like? How should we respond to the fundamentally unjust societies in which we live?
In Episode 6 of Thinking Justice, PhD Candidate Jessica Ison joins us to talk about the intersections of queer liberation and animal liberation as they collide in debates over who should participate in Mardi Gras. Tracing the politics of Mardi Gras’ transition from a political protest to a parade where police, military and banks now march alongside LGBTIQA+ communities, Jess warns of the dangers of assimilation, homonormativity and pinkwashing. She explains why queers should resist the institution of marriage and imagines what Mardi Gras might look like in more radical iterations. She discusses her research on the inclusion (and exclusion) of Animal Liberation floats in a context where meat and livestock industries market dead animal products wrapped in rainbow flags in the name of ‘pride’.
In Episode 7 and for Trans Awareness Week, Teddy Cook, the Manager of Trans & Gender Diverse Equity at ACON, talks us through the latest developments in peer-led policy, research and law reform. In a context where trans women of colour and sex workers experience the greatest risk of violence, the conservative right is pushing for ‘religious freedom’ to discriminate, trans kids have born the brunt of backlash against marriage equality and our Prime Minister has opposed human rights guidelines for trans inclusion in sport, we discuss the role of grief, the need to end cis heteronormativity, toxic masculinity and white fragility, and strategies for mobilisation and justice. Teddy introduces new findings from the largest Australian sexual health survey for trans and gender diverse people and explains what a peer-led partnership approach looks like in methodology, design and process. He explains recent law reform achievements (and next steps) in changing birth certificates and accessing gender affirming care as well as new initiatives, including a specialised trans and gender diverse health service that offers peer-run, free, rapid, HIV/STI testing and hormone level testing. Whilst advocating for appropriate questions in data collection so we can ensure culturally competent care and tailored health programming, Teddy explores how we can shift away from deficit-based, pathologizing gatekeeper models and why we should be talking about gender euphoria instead of gender dysphoria.
In Episode 8, Dr Senthorun Raj talks to us about how love, hate, rage, fear and disgust shape both the law and our political claims. Refuting the idea that law is solely comprised of logic, reason, precedent and norms, Sen explains how the law is already replete with emotion. Based on his doctrinal analysis, Sen discusses how disgust is mobilised in cases about queer sex in a way that sentimentalises certain zones of privacy; in hate crime legislation that assumes homophobia, transphobia and racism are individual aberrations rather than institutional problems; in anti-discrimination laws that only protect certain intimacies and identities that do not trouble existing arrangements of gender and sexuality; and in refugee laws that seek performances of authentic queerness that are intelligible to white decision-makers. Inspired by a long tradition of Black feminist and queer scholarship that takes emotion, the personal, and the affective seriously, Sen argues that logic and feeling are not separate things, and that emotion functions as a productive and central organising factor in our political and legal claims.