I originally created and shared this as a Sway presentation, but I suddenly remembered I had a blog and thought it might suit the blog format well and perhaps be more easily shareable than Sway.
It has been quite popular in academic and library networks this week and I feel like it is a timely and important reminder that Eurovision, citation practices, and libraries are political (not neutral!) and provide some suggestions I’ve come across for navigating these politics.
Five things you can learn from Eurovision about referencing
I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which I prepared this and pay my respect to them and to all Aboriginal Elders, past and present, and recognise that their sovereignty was never ceded.
If Eurovision is really committed to the message of peace, unity and love that it builds itself around, they should stop pretending to be neutral and consider whether it is appropriate for countries like Israel, Russia, Belarus and Australia to continue participating. I express solidarity with Palestinians.
Knowledge, Access, and Resistance: A Conversation on Librarians and Archivists to Palestine with Vani Natarajan and Hannah Mermelstein
- Both Eurovision and citation practices are political
Similarly, although you might have been told citation is neutral, it is impossible to avoid politics and this myth of neutrality perpetuates the unequal status quo.
Check out this discussion on citation politics featuring La Trobe academic Dr Yves Rees (they/them) alongside Professor Sandy O’Sullivan (they/them) and Dr Rico Tabor (he/him):
Some questions you can ask you can use to help you consider the politics of citation from Netolicky’s (Jul. 11, 2018) Reference lists as sites of diversity? Citations matter blog post include:
- “How does this list situate my work in the field? With what kind of scholarship am I aligning my work?
- From what nations, cultures and classes do my references come? To what extent do they represent Euro- or Anglo- centric ways of knowing and being?
- What is the gender mix of my reference list?
- Whose voices are silent? Whose scholarship have I ignored or excluded?”
2. Question power and privilege and amplify diverse voices
Five nations put more money into Eurovision than other countries and so automatically make it to the Eurovision finals, but most of them (especially the UK) hardly ever do very well.
On the other hand, acts celebrating LGBTQ+ communities and visibility and more diversity have been increasingly popular and Eurovision is alternatively and affectionately often referred to as ‘gay Christmas’.
As Sara Ahmed illustrates in the Introduction to and throughout Living a Feminist Life:
“Citation is how we acknowledge our debt to those who came before; those who helped us find our way when the way was obscured because we deviated from the paths we were told to follow. In this book, I cite feminists of color who have contributed to the project of naming and dismantling the institutions of patriarchal whiteness”.
Perhaps it’s time to rise like a phoenix and question whether you should keep citing the same privileged old white people who always get cited or not and try to cite more academics from marginalised groups and non-Western countries instead.
Some resources and keywords you can use to find more diverse voices to cite include:
Check out Democracy in difference: Debating key terms of gender, sexuality, race and identity by Dr Carolyn D’Cruz
Use other Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies resources at La Trobe and beyond
If you’re searching in JSTOR, add Gender Studies and Feminist and Women’s studies under Journals
If you’re searching in SocIndex, Anthropology Plus, Political Science Complete or Criminal Justice Abstracts, add LGBTQ+ Source
If you’re searching in Informit Complete, select the AIATSIS collection.
Add keywords and phrases like feminism, queer, intersectionality, decolonise, anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti- carceral, and critical race studies to your search strategy (but critically evaluate been how these terms have been used and avoid pinkwashing and appropriation – don’t be like Israel!)
Look for research found in non-Western journals: The Journals Online Project is aimed at providing increased visibility, accessibility, and quality of peer-reviewed journals published in developing countries.
Use this resource list curated by Sandy O’Sullivan as a gateway to finding works by Black authors
Find and listen to First Nations academics in this Blacademia podcast and look up their academic work
Follow the Cite Black Women Collective and their guiding principles:
” We have been producing knowledge since we blessed this earth.
We theorize, we innovate, we revolutionize the world. We do not need mediators. We do not need interpreters. It’s time to disrupt the canon. It’s time to upturn the erasures of history. It’s time to give credit where credit is due.
#1 – Read Black women’s work
#2 – Integrate Black women into the CORE of your syllabus (in life & in the classroom).
#3 – Acknowledge Black women’s intellectual production.
#4 – Make space for Black women to speak.
#5 – Give Black women the space and time to breathe.”
3. Prioritise quality over quantity and focus on content over style/staging
As 2017 winner Salvador Sobral from Portugal somewhat controversially argued in his victory speech:
“We live in a world of disposable music — fast-food music without any content…. I think this could be a victory for music that actually means something. Music is not fireworks. Music is feeling.”
Similarly, I encourage you to focus on why referencing is important and the quality of your sources more than how you’re referencing (which varies across disciplines and publishers) or how many sources you’re citing.
Historian, Tom Griffiths, eloquently illustrates that referencing is about much more than just punctuation and pedantry:
“Footnotes are not defensive displays of pedantry; they are honest expressions of vulnerability, they are generous signposts to anyone who wants to retrace the path and test the insights, they are acknowledgments of the collective enterprise that is history. Historians feed off the power of the past, exploiting its potency just as historical novelists do, but historians also constantly discuss the ethics of doing that. To whom are we responsible – to the people in our stories, to our sources, to our informants, to our readers and audiences, to the integrity of the past itself? How do we pay our respects, allow for dissent, accommodate complexity, distinguish between our voice and those of our characters? The professional paraphernalia of history has grown out of these ethical questions” (p.74.9).
To find the best quality and most relevant sources, look for peer reviewed journal articles in discipline specific databases.
However, as the following Eurovision fails illustrate, appropriate staging is important to learn and get right, so if you do need help with the staging, check out our Academic Referencing Tool for your relevant style and do not hesitate to contact your librarians if you have further queries.
4. Record and back up sources/performances so you can learn from the past
This is a good reminder to use some kind of system (spreadsheets, scrapbooks or specialist software) to save and manage your references systematically, which is particularly important when working on a research project or a thesis.
You may also like to try experimenting with reference management software like Zotero or EndNote for assistance with staging and citing while you write, but don’t let it distract you from why and who you’re citing.
Use these guides to help you find the reference management tool or system that works best for you:
- Reference management for researchers guide
- Guide to Getting started with Zotero
- ZoteroBib – a gateway to Zotero
5. Inspired by this year’s Eurovision theme Open up, support open scholarship
Subvert the exploitative academic publishing system and find more open research using the following resources:
- Open at La Trobe (OPAL) – a gateway to open research and more resources at La Trobe
- Australasian Open Access Repositories – a gateway to research repositories in Australasia
- DOAJ – Directory of Open Access Journals – Over 10,000 quality peer-reviewed OA journals from all disciplines
- JURN – Search free academic articles, chapters and theses
- CORE – Search for openly accessible content from repositories and journals
- Humanities commons and Open Library of Humanities – search for openly accessible research from humanities disciplines
- Add Unpaywall to your browser to easily access open access versions of journal articles online
Ahmed, S 2017, Living a feminist life, Duke University Press, Durham.
Are citations political? 2020, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWAaEZx0-MA&t=283s>.
Austlit 101 Links to Black Writers and Voices – Compiled by Dr Sandy O’Sullivan June 2020 | AustLit, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.austlit.edu.au/austlit/page/19577014>.
Conchita Wurst – Rise Like a Phoenix (Austria) 2014 LIVE Eurovision Second Semi-Final 2014, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaolVEJEjV4>.
D’ Cruz, C 2020, Democracy in difference: debating key terms of gender, sexuality, race and identity.
Daði Freyr (Daði & Gagnamagnið) – Think About Things (Official Video) 2020, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=VFZNvj-HfBU&t=1s>.
Eurovision: All Eurovision Fails | Best Moments 2021, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxGI2kSgPnw>.
Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love – Australia – LIVE – Second Semi- Final – Eurovision 2018 2018, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=yizRoV7uPKo>.
Pollapönk – No Prejudice (Iceland) LIVE 2014 Eurovision Song Contest First Semi-Final 2014, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ZG378DH1c&t=1s>.
The politics of Eurovision 2018, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2bkmDG3buk>.
The winning performance of Salvador and Luísa Sobral from Portugal 2017, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=z5VUti3kVIo&t=1s>.
Copenhagen 1964, Eurovision.tv, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// eurovision.tv/event/copenhagen-1964>.
Hatari Flew the Palestinian Flag at Eurovison, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.icelandreview.com/news/hatari-flew-the- palestinian-flag-at-eurovison/>.
Griffiths, T 2009, History and the Creative Imagination, History Australia, 6:3, 74.1-74.16, DOI: 10.2104/ha090074.
Netolicky, D Jul 11 2018, “Reference lists as sites of diversity? Citations matter”, the édu flâneuse, viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// theeduflaneuse.com/2018/07/11/citations-matter/>.
OUR PRAXIS – Cite Black Women., viewed 19 May 2021, <https:// www.citeblackwomencollective.org/our-praxis.html>.
Palestine & Praxis: Scholars for Palestinian Freedom, Palestine and Praxis: Open Letter and Call to Action, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://palestineandpraxis.weebly.com/>.
Palestinian artists and broadcast journalists: “Boycott Eurovision 2019!,” BDS Movement, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://bdsmovement.net/news/palestinian-artists-and- broadcast-journalists-boycott-eurovision-2019>.
Rules, Eurovision.tv, viewed 19 May 2021, https://eurovision.tv/about/rules
‘Talk:Eurovision Song Contest 1964’, in Wikipedia, , viewed 19 May 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php? title=Talk:Eurovision_Song_Contest_1964&oldid=989252908>.
Vuletic, D May 14 2019 ‘Opinion | Eurovision is political this year. As it is every year.’, Washington Post, viewed 19 May 2021, <https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/13/eurovision-is-political-this-year-it-is-every-year/>.
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