Research Projects
(Some highlights)

  • “Wogarigines”

    :life stories and oral histories of indigenous Australians with Mediterranean heritages.

    Through literary non-fiction, combining storytelling, biography and analytical prose, this research will be the first compilation of the life stories and histories of “Wogarigines”, a term often used by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people with Southern European (SE: Greek, Italian, Maltese, Portuguese and Spanish) migrant heritages. It will document individual, interpersonal and family histories of Indigenous and SE relations, intersections, conflicts and connections, and how these were framed/constrained by national policies, and socio-cultural perspectives and practices. It would also document and honour their strategies of resistance, re-definition and re-clamation.

    The research will explore lives, loves and losses interwoven, crossed or contested on the borders of and within communities of “mobs” and “migrants”. My initial research and “yarns” with Indigenous individuals of diverse cultures, languages and countries in Australia, and with SE heritages, revealed significant themes requiring literary excavation and exploration. These include: what were the ramifications of the White Australia Policy on Indigenous and SE relations and “Wogarigines”, and how did individuals and families undertake resistance against or subversion of this Policy? What role did migrants play in influencing and condoning, as well as questioning and confronting, racist and colonialist ideologies on national, community, familial and interpersonal levels? How did Indigenous Australians perceive, understand, resist or connect with SE migrants on national, community, familial, and interpersonal levels? Did SE migrants ‘import’ colonial and racial attitudes and convictions that they had acquired in their homelands and colonies, such as Italian colonies in North Africa, or did they learn these from Australian employers, neighbours, churches, schools and media? What was life like for “Wogarigines” in their families, communities, schools, workplaces, churches and in the wider Australian society, and what is it like today?

  • “Re-introducing pre-colonial and pre-Christian histories of gender and sexual diversity”

    :developing CALD GLBTIQ anti-homophobic understandings and strategies.

    The available research in Australian schools is pointing to high rates of homophobic violence and abuse being perpetrated by CALD young people, particularly from diverse Arabic, African and Asian backgrounds, to both CALD and Anglo-Australian peers. Some major reason students give is that “being gay” is a Western “sickness” or “sin” or “crime” that is antithetical to their cultural and religious backgrounds.  Many students are unaware of their culture’s own pre-colonial and pre-Christian knowledge, understandings, texts and art that provide evidence of a greater understanding and acceptance of sexual and gender diversity before colonialism and Christianity erased this history and imposed 18th/19th century Western constructions of pathology, sin and criminality. There is a growing movement  around the world to (re)introduce these heritages to students in order to foster the health and wellbeing of sexually diverse and gender diverse young people and reduce the levels of homophobic violence and abuse that are justified by using religious and cultural rhetoric. The research would be qualitative with texts, art, documentaries being used in school settings around which to conduct interviews, group discussions and classroom activities .

  • “Agedo”

    : the experiences of Italian parents and families of GLBTIQ young people in Italy and Australia: a comparative analysis.

    With Dr Chiara Bertone, University of East Piedmont, Italian GLBTIQ community groups and Italian media in both Italy and Australia, this project will explore the factors in relation to family, generational shifts, migration, popular culture, political, legal, economic, social and religious frameworks that influence the health and wellbeing of young people coming out. For example, what is the role of “family honour and shame” and community surveillance in preventing a young person “coming out” to their family, and how is this linked to mental health, suicidation and sexual health issues? Thus, the research will provide a comparative analysis between the issues as they are evident and addressed in the “home country” and in Australia. For publications, please see Bertone and Pallotta-Chiarolli, 2014 in the publications site.

  • “Femantasy and Girlfags”


    “Femantasy” and “girlfags” are terms which define women’s sexual interests in “boy on boy action” action as spectators and/or participants. “Femantasy” is very evident in two fiction genres, written predominantly by heterosexual females and proliferating via the Internet, which specialise in men having explicit sexual relationships with each other. First, slash fiction and its sub-branches, slashart and slashvidding (visuals cut and pasted from video-clips such as YouTube) often re-write and re-inscribe mainstream heterosexual male characters and storylines into same-sex and bisexual characterisations and storylines.  Second, slash-like “femantasy” fiction is written in various Japanese “anime” or “manga” fandoms including cartoons, comics, videogames and fine art, and is referred to as “shounen-ai”,  “yaoi” or BL (‘boys love’) for homoerotic and homoromantic relationships between male characters. What is also interesting is how many critics of “femantasy” are not as stridently critical of heteropatriarchal cultural representations of “straight men’s girl-on-girl fantasies”. Femantasists and girlfags often do not enjoy conventional pornography, which had been made for men and are discontented with societal standards of female heterosexuality.  Overall, the various genres of “femantasy” highlight that as women have gained greater economic power and queer feminist understandings and assertiveness over their sexual desires, commercial demand for the sexualization of men, including “boy on boy action”, may correlate. Some men and feminists may think this is degrading, and certainly “yaoi” and other pornography exploiting men is subject to traditional feminist criticisms, particularly in the depictions of male rape and pedophilia, as another example of the objectification of human beings via sexual caricatures, the creation of unrealistic sexual and physical expectations, and the consequent negative body images and interpersonal abusive expressions.