Dr Lorraine Mortimer


Growing up in a decaying mansion divided into small flats in Randwick, Sydney, shaped many of my interests and preoccupations to this day. Members of my extended family from the far West of NSW, manual workers with no formal education, lived in these flats, along with a number of post-War refugees from Eastern Europe, highly educated professionals who now worked as labourers to provide a life and university education for their children. As well as these two worlds, a love of cinema was another formative influence. At Sydney University, I majored in French and Anthropology, and completed a Diploma in 1972. Then as a mature-aged student I completed a PhD on social theory and film in Sociology at La Trobe University, at a time when Eastern European critics of totalitarianism, committed to non-authoritarian leftism were on staff. They were also interested in aesthetics, and encouraged students working in other languages as well as English.

After teaching for ten years in Cinema Studies at La Trobe, I returned to Sociology and Anthropology to teach courses on Gender and Sexuality, and Ethnographic Film. My book, Terror and Joy, is emblematic of my concerns with class, identity, testimony, personal and political autonomy, and apocalyptic revolutionary movements.Here I argue that in the works of public intellectual and filmmaker, Dušan Makavejev, con-men and tyrants show more understanding of the sympathetic, organic, chaotic and often dangerous dimensions of human beings than many political diplomats or social scientists with an investment in over-socialized conceptions of the human. Makavejev's body of work also intersected with major historical and political upheavals in Eastern Europe—World War II, the unification and break-up of Yugoslavia, the fall of Communism. It also provides a starting-point for considerations of contemporary post-Communist societies in Europe.

I am presently researching and writing on the ethnographic films of Roger Sandall and preparing a paper on the socialist anarchist, Petr Kropotkin, for a conference at the Centre for Cultural and Historical Research of Socialism at Juraj Dobrila University, in Pula.

Selected publications

1990 'What If I Talked Like A Woman Right Here In Public?'. Arena, No. 92.

1995 'Will The New Woman Keep Some Of The Old Organs?'. Arena Journal, No. 4.

1995/6 'The Grim Enchantment of "It's a Wonderful Life". The Massachusetts Review, Vol. XXXVI, No. 4, Winter.

1997 'Sweet Finitude: Relative Utopias with Live Inhabitants' (in French and English). French Cultural Studies, Vol. 8, Part 2, No. 23, June.

1998 'Les Aventures de L'Esprit et La Chaleur Vivante: A New Encounter with Simone de Beauvoir' (in French and English). French Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, Part 3, No. 30, October.

2001 We Are the Dance: Cinema, Death and the Imaginary in the Thought of Edgar Morin'. Thesis Eleven, No. 64, February.

2007 'The Texture of Lives and the Stuff of Dreams: Jean Rouch at the Heart of Film and Anthropology'. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 18, No. 3.

2010 'Warm Ghosts: Review Essay on Robert Gardner's Making Dead Birds: Chronicle of a Film', The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 21, Issue 10, August.

2011 'Something Against Nature: Sweet Movie, 4, and Disgust'. Senses of Cinema, Issue 59, June, http://www.sensesofcinema.com.

2013 'Poetry in the Air: Mad Bastards and Toomelah'. Senses of Cinema, Issue 66, March, http://www.sensesofcinema.com.


2005 The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man: An Essay in Sociological Anthropology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. This is a translation of Edgar Morin's Le Cinéma ou l'homme imaginaire: essai de sociologie anthropologique, and includes a thirty nine-page introduction for English speakers.


2009 Terror and Joy: The Films of Dušan Makavejev. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

2011 Teror I Radost: Filmovi Dušana Makavejeva, translated by Irena Šentevska and Ivan Šentevski. Belgrade: CLIO and the Institut za pozorište, film, radio i televiziju, Fakultet dramskih umetnosti, Beograd.

2013 From Paris to Perth: Spaces of Civility in an Indifferent Universe. This book proceeds from the seemingly outrageous linking of Paris and Perth—a great European city and capital of world culture, and 'Dullsville'. Australia, way out West and at the bottom of the world. It is a work of journeying and testimony and grows from the conviction that spaces of civility, difference and commonality should be testified to, more widely known about, and be bases for struggle for more human-centred collectivities. [It is presently looking for a home/publisher.]