Contemporary Publics

pp 43-59


Re-membering, (Re-) appropriation, and Polyphony: SBS Independent and White Australian Memory

  • Amanda Malel TrevisanutAffiliated withThe University of Melbourne


This paper examines SBS Independent (SBSi) (1994–2007) as a cultural institution characterised by productive diversity and countermemory. As a cultural institution, SBSi was responsible for the administration of productive diversity, a federal policy harnessing cultural and linguistic diversity as a national economic resource. It argues that while the form and function of SBSi was broadly complicit with this state neoliberal agenda, staff successfully manoeuvred within a governmental logic to also generate a new countermemorial genre, and thereby challenge the reproduction of white racial hegemony in Australian media. This is demonstrated using a critical race and whiteness approach, and via the close textual analysis three SBSi productions: the comedy series Pizza (Paul Fenech 2007), the short film Jewboy (Tony Krawitz 2005), and the telemovie Call Me Mum (Margot Nash 2006). This analysis identifies and extrapolates three broad strategies that characterise the SBSi countermemorial genre—re-membering, (re-) appropriation, and polyphony—and demonstrates how these were mobilised to innovate formal and narrative conventions, creating new possibilities for cross-cultural debate and dialogue.