At The Vanishing Point: the Souvenirs, Merchandise and Memorabilia of International Law

Currently on display in Rare Books and Specials Collections (level 1, Fisher Library) is a fascinating exhibition that focuses on the material objects of international law institutions like the United Nations and The Hague. 

The exhibition, At the Vanishing Point: the Souvenirs and merchandise of International Law is curated by Dr Emily Crawford and Associate Professor Jacqueline Mowbray from the University of Sydney, Associate Professor Daniel Joyce from the UNSW and Associate Professor Jessie Hohmann from UTS, in collaboration with Emily Kang (Rare Books & Special Collections Liaison Librarian, East Asian Collection).

The exhibition interrogates international law and international institutions through the lens of merchandise, memorabilia, and souvenirs. It showcases numerous vintage and contemporary souvenirs to prompt conversation and reflection about what such objects and imagery say about the role of international law in the social and cultural zeitgeist. 

In this exhibition, we reflect on the material objects of international law institutions like the United Nations and its agencies and interrogate international law and international institutions through the lens of merchandise, memorabilia, and souvenirs. How do international organisations present themselves to the world (by way of their gift shops or commercial collaborations) and how does society at large perceive of international law and international institutions (through invocation of international law in commercial imagery and objects)?

Dr Emily Crawford

At the Vanishing Point is on display now until 2024 in Rare Books and Special Collections on level 1 of Fisher Library. 

IDAHOBIT Day, 17 May 2023

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia has been observed on 17 May each year since 2005 to raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ rights violations including violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide. The date was originally selected to commemorate the 1990 decision by the World Health Organisation to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. 

The stated goals for IDAHOBIT include to take action, and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society. The idea behind setting a global date for IDAHOBIT celebrations is that they are globally visible while not requiring them conformation to a particular format or type of action because of the diversity of social, religious, cultural, and political contexts in which rights violations occur. Despite the nature of IDAHOBIT celebrations being very different across the world, they share common themes of pride in oneself, happiness, love and caring within the community, and countering different rampant forms of hate in the world. 

Some of the things the official, Australian IDAHOBIT Day website suggests you can do to show your support and celebrate IDAHOBIT Day at uni or at work are: 

  • Go Rainbow! Wear rainbow face paint or clothes on the day, or decorate your office with rainbow. 
  • Host an event. No matter how large or small, whether it is a fabulous party or a small, rainbow cupcake afternoon tea, your event will make a difference. 
  • Raise awareness. This can be done on IDAHOBIT Day or at any time of the year, whether by inviting a guest speaker, hosting or attending an inclusion training session, or listening to those with lived-experience. 
  • Change the world with your generosity. Think about how you can help other LGBTQIA+ young people in need through organisations such as Minus18

BioQuest photo competition

BioQuest photograph. Image supplied by Madeleine Culp

Each April and August, our University community comes together to watch nature with a purpose.

Questagame runs a series of “bioquests” where people of all ages and experience levels can photograph animals and plants they encounter. It’s an international competition, where Team USYD is pitted against other Universities on a mission to capture and identify as many wild images of flora, fauna or fungi as possible. Data submitted by participants is then fed in to resources to enhance biodiversity knowledge and research world wide.

We are fortunate to have a committed group of staff and students who participate with impressive results. BioQuest in 2022 saw our University teams scoring high in semester 2 taking 3rd place in the Champion Spotters, 2nd and 3rd in the Champion Identifiers, 1st in the Most valuable player, 1st place in the Champion Spotter, and 2nd and 3rd in the Champion Identifier awards.  

The University released it’s first Sustainability Strategy in 2020 which committed to improving the ecosystems that support flora, fauna, and wildlife species on our campuses. Biologically diverse natural environments matters – it can create a healthy and resilient environment and benefit species (including us humans) well-being . We established a Biodiversity Management Plan to set our biodiversity targets, aiming at managing our environment and encouraging staff and students to think about how our actions impact the land and life around us.

 In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted the accelerating rates of species loss. In Australia, 1/3 of our threatened species live in our cities. One of our principles is to ensure no net loss and do more biodiversity enhancement. We are also aware that causing attitudinal and behavioural change is the key, so we share stories and information about biodiversity with our students, fund projects which promote biodiversity, allowing students and staff to use flora and fauna for research and education.   

To celebrate another amazing round of BioQuest and biodiversity, the Sustainability Strategy, Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell and the Libraries have teamed up to host a BioQuest photographic Competition.

We’re inviting all students and staff to submit their best three pictures of flora, fauna, or fungi for exhibition in the ThinkSpace, Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus during Week 12 and 13. Prizes are on offer including Judge’s Award and People’s Choice.

Complete the registration form with information on your photos then email your pictures before Thursday 11 May at 5pm.

Lesbian Visibility Day, 26 April 2023

Lesbian Visibility Day is a day to recognise and celebrate the contributions of lesbian women around the world. The day was created in 2008 to raise awareness of the issues faced by lesbians, and to encourage them to live authentically.

To celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2023, the Library’s LGBTQIA+ Ally group has compiled a reading list of items within the collection that highlight and celebrate lesbian stories and experiences from around the world.

(Image: Honi Soit, 1977, vol. 50 issue 25)

In the Dream House

Author: C.M Machado

In this genre-bending memoir, author Carmen Maria Machado explores her experience of abuse in a same-sex relationship, drawing on a series of narrative tropes from horror, fantasy, erotica, literary theory, and beyond. She tackles an extremely challenging topic with nuance, wit, vulnerability, and imagination, leaving the reader as haunted as the eponymous “dream house”.

Discover this item via our catalogue

The Argonauts

Author: M.Nelson

“The Argonauts” is many things – a series of theoretical essays, a queer and feminist manifesto, and, perhaps most importantly, a love story. Maggie Nelson details her romance with gender-fluid partner Harry Dodge and their journey into pregnancy and child-rearing with an irrepressible tenderness and joy. This book is a celebration of queer families, of small joys, of caretaking, of lovemaking, and of radical individual freedom.

Discover this item via our catalogue

The Amazons: Lives and legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

Author: A. Mayor

History has, indeed, been male-washed, but this is a refreshingly feminist read of the archaeological and historical record. And as an added bonus, the purported lesbianism of the Amazons is addressed – particularly as a disruptive symbol in direct opposition to ideals of Athenian masculinity.

Discover this item via our catalogue

After Sappho

Author: S.W Schwartz

Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.

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Author: E. Baltasar

The grim and lovely follow-up to Eva Baltasar’s acclaimed Permafrost explores the darker sides of love and motherhood for two women determined to live as they like.

Discover this item via our catalogue

Mouths of Rain: An anthology of black lesbian thought.

Author: B. Jones

A ground-breaking collection tracing the history of intellectual thought by Black Lesbian writers, in the tradition of The New Press’s perennial seller “Words of Fire”. African American lesbian writers and theorists have made extraordinary contributions to feminist theory, activism, and writing. Mouths of Rain, the companion anthology to Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s classic “Words of Fire”, traces the long history of intellectual thought produced by Black Lesbian writers, spanning the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.

Discover this item via our catalogue

The last night at the Telegraph Club

Author: M. Lo

Winner of numerous awards, this beloved poignant lesbian novel is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1954, during the Red Scare, when openly exploring queerness isn’t an option.

Protagonist Lily secretly gathers photos of women with masculine qualities, is drawn toward ‘unfeminine; clothing and interests, and slowly recognises her lesbianism with her budding connection to Kathleen Miller, a white classmate.

Discover this item via our catalogue

The big lie

Author: J. Mayhew

In an alternate-world modern England under Nazi rule, sheltered teen Jessika Keller questions what it means to be good when she develops an attraction for her best friend, Clementine, an outspoken, radical girl who has drawn the attention of the Nazi regime.

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Lesbian art: an encounter with power

Author: E. Ashburn

This benchmark publication documents the diversity and vitality of lesbian talent in Australia. A hitherto marginalised group, lesbian artists are now being incorporated into mainstream culture and this book provides a timely introduction to the issues explored by these artists, which include sexuality, mythology and religion, mass media and technology.

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Immortal invisible: Lesbians and the moving image

Author: T. Wilton

The first book that bought together “leading film-makers, academics and activists to discuss films by, for and about lesbians and queer women” It was written in the mid-nineties, so shows its age, and was written in peak Kill your Gays/No Happy Endings for Lesbians era, as well as being of the time where you took subtext and ran with it.

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Oranges are not the only fruit

Author: J. Winterson

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by working-class evangelists in the North of England to be one of God’s elect. Passionate, headstrong and shielded by her mother’s grand disapproval of a sinful world, she seems destined for life as a missionary. And then she meets Melanie. At sixteen, Jeanette faces a world of uncertainty as she breaks from the church and her community for the young woman she loves. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a warm, witty and daring novel that gives voice to irrepressible desire.

Discover this item via our catalogue

Library Printer in Residence – 2022

Printed work of Caren Florance

The library is very excited to have the Piscator Press active during Semester 1 once again, with Printer in Residence Caren Florance beginning her eight-week residency.

Caren’s project for the residency, ALT-SHIFT-PRINT, takes visual poetry as a starting point and will incorporate imagery via a variety of printmaking methods. As COVID has been such an important historical moment, she will be turning to a favourite classical text, Ovid’s Metamorphoses for a point of influence and connection.

Caren usually works on two consecutive outputs: something serious and sustained, and a body of peripheral, fun outputs that arise from orienting herself to the new space. As Caren describes her work:

I often work with letterpress in a traditional manner, but I’m more interested in the affordances of it as a relief printmaking process, pushing it into a more visual mode and experimenting with its relationship to digital processes. I’m interested in the ways it can print onto various materials, and how those materials can then be used.

If you’d like to see Caren at work on the Albion letterpress, swing by Level 1 at Fisher Library or book into one of her Open Studios:

A selection of Caren Florance’s work from her website

Printer in Residence Launch

Join us for a drink and some nibbles at the Piscator Press to celebrate Caren Florance’s residency and the outcome of her project ALT-SHIFT-PRINT. You’ll get to see the work Caren has been making during her time with the Press, as well as the publication which will become a part of our Rare Books and Special Collections.

Click here to register for the event

Dr Caren Florance Bio

Dr Caren Florance is an Honorary Assistant Professor in the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research (CCCR) at the University of Canberra. She has also taught at the ANU School of Art and the National Art School. Her spectrum of publications are often made under the imprint Ampersand Duck and her work is collected by international and national institutions (usually libraries).

Advising everyone of culturally sensitive materials in our collection

The message advising of culturally sensitive material will start appearing from the 24th January, 2022

Last year, the University of Sydney Library published the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols to guide Library staff in promoting culturally safe practices across services, spaces and resources. 

As part of the protocol’s implementation, a new message will appear when people visit the Library website. It advises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that materials in our collection may contain images, voices and names of people who have died.

The Library recognises the significance of the traditional cultural knowledges contained within its collection. However, it is important to note that some materials may be considered insensitive, outdated, or inappropriate in today’s context. These materials reflect the views of the authors and/or the period in which they were produced and don’t represent the views of the Library.

The Library thanks the DCV ISS for their advice and feedback on this project. This message is implemented as a further acknowledgment of our facilities residing on the ancestral lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For thousands of generations, these people have exchanged knowledge for the benefit of all.

Learn more on this about our approach to culturally sensitive materials.