Topic: The truth of testimony: language and the production of subjectivity

Presenter: Dr Trish Luker - Postdoctoral Research Fellow

In law, evidence scholarship is dominated by an empirical model which assumes the existence of objective, observable facts, separate from subjective locations. Oral testimony is seen to provide access to the truth through eyewitness observation, recollection and narration by witnesses to past events. However, testimony also shares a close connection with the humanities, where acts of remembering and personal witnessing are central to the emergence of counter-histories articulated by oppressed subjects. Theorisation of the performative function of speech regards testimony as an illocutionary speech act, with the power to produce subjects within discourse. In this paper, I will provide a textual analysis of the Federal Court's reception of testimonial evidence presented by Lorna Cubillo in Cubillo v Commonwealth, an account which provides powerful evidence of the function of language in the constitution of subjects, in the efficacy of speech to inaugurate racial identity in ideological regimes, and in the power of naming. 

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:


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