Please Explain: Why is My Curriculum White? Panel Discussion

SYD. 22 NOV – 6.30-8.00PM

Please Explain: Why is My Curriculum White? Panel Discussion
Thursday 22 November 2018

Moderator: Justine Youssef
Speakers: Alissar Chidiac , Dr Jason De Santolo , Jennine Khalik, Dr Omid Tofighian
4A’s series Please Explain invites presenters to rethink, recharge and reimagine contemporary issues through the arts and academia. In response to the Why Is My Curriculum White campaign this edition of Please Explain considers Omid Tofighian’s article in The Conversation that challenges our education system to rethink and reframe Eurocentric norms that currently provide the foundations from which to learn. Joining him are Sydney based community workers and artists who base their practices in diversifying ideas of ‘the norm’ and seek to tell complex, diverse and sometimes paradoxical stories of who we are today. This conversation is led by Justine Youssef, who has curated this panel as part of her 4A exhibition, Justine Youssef: All Blessings, All Curses.

Missed the event? Listen to the audio recording below:

Speaker Profiles:

 | Moderator: Justine YOUSSEF

| Justine YOUSSEF is currently living on the unceded territory of the Darug peoples. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney, Australia and is currently working from the Parramatta Artist Studios. She has been awarded the New South Wales Artists’ Grant (NAVA and Create NSW), as well as a studio residency at Blacktown Arts. She has held collaborative solo exhibitions at Seventh Gallery, Melbourne, and Firstdraft, Woolloomooloo with Duha Ali in 2018, and has participated in group exhibitions at Airspace Projects, Marrickville; Bankstown Art Center, Bankstown; Sullivan+Strumpf, Zetland; and Collab Gallery, Chippendale. Her work can be found in the collections of the National Association for the Visual Arts; the National Art School Drawing Archive; and the Sydney Gallery School.

 | Alissar CHIDIAC

| Alissar Chidiac has been working in different contexts of community and cultural engagement for almost 40 years. Since 1991 her focus has been on Arab Australian cultures, through contemporary cultural production, cultural heritage and performance work. She worked at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (1998-2004) where she initiated a diversity of critical projects, innovative exhibitions and Arab community partnerships through the ‘wattan project’. She creatively developed model programs with Auburn Community Development Network, including ‘Inside Out_Muslim Women Exploring Identities and Creative Expressions’ (2005-2007) and ‘Moving Calligraphy_Visual Storytelling’ (2009-2010) bringing together artists of Arabic and Chinese calligraphies and local Aboriginal artists. In 2011-2012 she was Creative Producer of Casula Powerhouse Art Centre’s national initiative ‘No Added Sugar: Engagement and Self-Determination: Australian Muslim Women Artists’. Alissar worked as Creative Producer with ‘Auburn Cartographies of Diversity’ (2015-2017) activating community engagement and producing local exhibitions in Auburn. She has also been contracted by Fairfield City Council in 2017-2018 to facilitate professional development and mentorship programs with emerging artists and community members. Alissar and Maissa Alameddine are currently Artist Coordinators with Arab Theatre Studio Creative Hub in Granville, supported by Cumberland Council, through Create NSW’s ‘Making Spaces’ program. Alissar initiated Arab Theatre Studio in 2014, after a Space Residency with Urban Theatre Projects in 2013. In 2005 Alissar was awarded a two-year Fellowship by the Community Cultural Development Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. In 2010 she won the annual ‘Ros Bower Award’, honouring a lifetime contribution to community arts and cultural development. 


| Dr Omid Tofighian is a lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in rhetoric, religion, popular culture, transnationalism, displacement and discrimination. He completed his PhD in Philosophy at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and graduated with a combined honours degree in Philosophy and Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney. Omid has lived variously in the UAE where he taught at Abu Dhabi University; Belgium where he was a visiting scholar at K.U. Leuven; the Netherlands for his PhD; and intermittent periods in Iran for research. His current roles include Honorary Research Associate for the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney; faculty at Iran Academia; and campaign manager for Why Is My Curriculum White? – Australasia.’ He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with asylum seekers, refugees and young people from Western Sydney. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles and is author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues (Palgrave 2016) and translator of Manus by Behrouz Boochani (Picador 2017).

Jennine KHALIK

| Jennine Khalik is a Sydney-based journalist and digital producer at the ABC. She was formerly a reporter with the national broadsheet The Australian, in news and art, and with NewsLocal.


| Dr Jason De Santolo (Garrwa and Barunggam) is a researcher, creative producer & father committed to forging a sustainable world for future generations through transformative research strategies, storytelling & practices of renewal. Born in Larrakia homelands – Darwin, he moved to Aoteaoroa/NZ at an early age, and studied treaty & international environmental law. His unique research practice integrates video, creative practice & renewal strategies through a Garrwa driven decolonising research paradigm. In 2014 he received a UTS Research Excellence Scholarship and graduated in 2018 with a creative doctorate that explores the renewal of song traditions through his passion for filmmaking & collective aspirations for self determination.