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Say My Name - the humanity of names

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Event description

Can you say my name? Not so far, say Hibaq Farah, Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird, Ranjana Srivastava and the thousands of other Australians whose names are shortened, anglicised, mispronounced or replaced.

For many in Australia, navigating school, the workplace, and life can come with unique and sometimes distressing challenges tied to their name. This storytelling session and panel discussion unpacks how we perceive and acknowledge names unfairly categorised as 'tricky,' 'unfamiliar,' or 'foreign'.

Moderated by Jan Fran, hear Dr Elaine Laforteza, Sunil Badami, Dr Mariko Smith and Dr Kumi de Silva as they discuss their personal experiences and the cultural, familial and historical implications of names in the Australian context. Say My Name will also provide insights and tools for how who we can rectify mispronunciations and work towards a more respectful and inclusive society together.

Our names are an essential part of our identity. They carry deep personal, cultural, familial, and historical connections. They also give us a sense of who we are and our place in the world. Join us in celebrating the diversity of names and the story they tell about us individuals and as a society at large.


Jan Fran (MC and moderator) is a Walkley-award-winning journalist, TV presenter and social commentator. She is the co-host of ABC's Question Everything and is well known for her work on Channel 10's The Project, SBS's The Feed and as host of Listnr's flagship news podcast, The Briefing. Jan is the creator, writer and presenter of the online opinion segment, The Frant, which has been viewed more than 25 million times and earned her a 2019 Walkley Award for Best Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique. 

Dr Elaine Laforteza is the Equity and Diversity Project Officer (Cultural Diversity) at UTS. She has a PhD in Cultural Studies and previously held academic positions Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University, and UTS. Elaine’s work has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals and community media and she authored the book The Somatechnics of Whiteness and Race. Elaine hosts SBS’s award-winning podcast, My Bilingual Family, and is also an emerging playwright, producing plays for various festivals in Sydney.

Dr Sunil Badami is a writer, academic and broadcaster. His work has been published in nearly every major Australian media outlet including ABC TV and ABC Radio, as well as international networks. Stones and Sticks and Suchlike, the story of his name – or rather, the story his mother told him about his name – was published in the bestselling anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia and continues to be studied in schools across the country.

Dr Mariko Smith is a Yuin woman with Japanese heritage. Her professional work as well as community involvement is very much influenced by her diverse cultural background and lived experiences as an Australian-born, First Nations person who has a migrant parent. Mariko has worked in the museum and tertiary sectors in Sydney, specialising in Aboriginal cultural heritage; community-based cultural resurgence initiatives; and incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into curatorial, collections, and creative practices.

Dr Kumi de Silva’s
 commitment to drive and influence inclusion and belonging has led her from a career as an immunologist to her current role as the Gender Equity Programs Manager at UTS. Her experiences as an international student and a migrant woman in science continues to influence her work. Prior to joining UTS she co-founded Mosaic, a network to support multicultural staff at the University of Sydney. 

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