Dr Joanna Cruickshank – History For Change Project

Dr Joanna Cruickshank is a Senior Lecturer at Deakin University, co-editor of The Journal of Religious History and a member of the Contemporary Histories Research Group. Jo has recently initiated a crowdfunding campaign for her research project – History For Change. You can follow Jo on Twitter @jcrankers:

Five weeks ago I embarked on something of an experiment: crowdfunding a research project called History For Change. I’m seeking to fund a project I have developed with education and anti-racist scholars at Deakin, which will examine the role that historical education can play in educating school kids about racism and empowering them to stand up against it. With one week to go until our all-or-nothing deadline, we are 82% funded.

My interest in this topic arises out of my long-term involvement in a theatre performance called Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country, a powerful reenactment of Aboriginal activism at the 1881 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the management of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve. I’ve had the privilege of seeing how transformative it can be for people to engage in such a direct way with historical stories. I have become particularly interested in how the themes of the Coranderrk story – Aboriginal activism to defend rights to land and self-determination, in the face of structural injustice – can help broaden students understanding of racism. The Coranderrk story also points to the long history of Aboriginal resistance to racist injustice and also shows how some colonists worked alongside Aboriginal people – stories that I hope can empower both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people to stand up against racism.

Unfortunately, theatre performances are quite expensive to fund, so I have turned to crowdfunding through Deakin’s Research My World program as part of my funding strategy. I’m seeking to raise $9500 for two performances for audiences of around 225 students and a number of pre-service teachers from the School of Education. We’ll be conducting research with the audiences before and after the performances to see how they respond to the stories they see and hear.

Crowdfunding is a labour-intensive way to raise research funds – and because you only collect the funds if you reach your target amount, there is a certain amount of adrenalin involved! I’ve been glued to my phone for five weeks, working hard on social media to raise awareness about the project, as well as doing conventional media interviews and emailing all my friends and family asking them to pitch in! The benefits, in addition to actually raising funds, have been improving my skills in talking about research to wider audiences, developing a whole new network of scholars and activists on Twitter and being encouraged and amazed by the willingness of strangers to pitch in and support a project of this nature. With one week to go, I’m working hard to get us over the line. If you’d like to help make that happen, please go to www.pozible.com/HistoryForChange and pledge, share, tweet or email to a friend!

 

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