Dark Emu: Bruce Pascoe and Tony Birch in Conversation
In conversation with Tony Birch, Bruce Pascoe discusses the writing, research and reception of his groundbreaking, celebrated book Dark Emu – which won Book of the Year at the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. What does challenging the past of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people mean for the present?
Tony Birch and Bruce Pascoe — Photo: Gemma Rayner
Myths about the lives of pre-colonial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have proven deeply entrenched. But in Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe struck a grievous blow to one of the most widely accepted assumptions of Australian pre-settlement history. He argued, and presented robust evidence drawn from the journals of European explorers, that Indigenous people were not hunter-gatherers at the time of colonisation.
‘The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag,’ he has said. The book also challenges existing narratives around housing construction, cooking and clothing prior to European settlement.
Presented in partnership with Yirramboi.
Black and Green: Environmentalists and Indigenous Australia
Tony Birch, Karrina Nolan, Jon Altman and Eve Vincent in conversation — Photo: Jon Tjhia
When the environmental movement emerged in Australia in the 1970s, many saw an obvious alliance between activists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There seemed to be broad agreement on one major principle: the natural environment should not be subject to thoughtless destruction.
But these relationships have also often played out with tension – complicated by disagreements on issues from fire management to mining sites and the contested idea of ‘wilderness’. In her 2012 Boyer Lecture, Indigenous writer and anthropologist Marcia Langton denounced ‘the refusal among the romantics, leftists and worshippers of nature to admit that Aboriginal people, like other humans, have an economic life … and have economic rights’.
A new book, Unstable Relations, explores the past and present of this sometimes tense, often constructive and always evolving relationship. Join its co-editor, anthropologist Eve Vincent, Indigenous organiser and strategist Karrina Nolan and contributor Jon Altman in conversation with host Tony Birch.
Presented in partnership with Yirramboi.
Strange Here: George Saunders
In addition to this conversation, George Saunders will be joining us for The Alt Write.
American writer George Saunders is one of the world’s most surreal – and most empathic – eyewitnesses to modern life. But quixotic? Not so much. In his writing, he’s generous with his subjects: offering them dignity where consumerism and politics deny it. It’s absurd and heart-wrenching stuff…
Debut novels announcing the arrival of fresh, young talents are often praised for their capacity to dazzle. Freshly anointed literary darlings are ‘brilliant’, ‘precocious’ and ‘virtuosic’.
But such descriptions don’t exactly fit with 26-year-old Californian author Brit Bennett, whose stirring first novel, The Mothers, is remarkable not for its flashy prose or clever metanarrative manoeuvres but for its restrained…
There is only one living writer whose work has traversed the subjects of slavery, poker, commercial nomenclature and zombies. Colson Whitehead is audacious, inventive and utterly unpredictable.
No matter the subject, the acclaimed New York-based novelist always delivers strange and striking slants – often speculative or satirical in nature. His latest book, The Underground Railroad, won the 2016 National…
Direct Line: Manus Island and The Messenger
Aziz, via Skype, with the audience (inset)
Abdul Aziz Muhamat – originally from Sudan, now a refugee detained on Manus – has been using a smuggled phone to give Australians a first-hand account of life in detention. Since March 2016, Aziz has been corresponding with Melbourne journalist Michael Green, using WhatsApp to relay voice messages. The Messenger is a ten-part podcast series from the Wheeler Centre and Behind the Wire – and the winning pitch in last year’s So You Think You Can Pod competition – and it’s based on their correspondence.
Hear directly from Aziz himself (appearing via Skype) at this discussion of life on Manus and the making of the podcast. He’s joined by Behind the Wire’s Michael Green, psychologist and former Manus Island health worker John Zammit and Guardian correspondent Ben Doherty.
Hosted by ABC 7.30 reporter (and Wheeler Centre Question Time anchor) Madeleine Morris.Listen to The Messenger Podcast episode 1 Aziz, Not a Boat Number / Migration Podcast episode 2 I Need to Format My Memory / Migration Podcast episode 3 I Have Got Some People Waiting For Me / Migration Podcast episode 4 Today I’m Really Smiling / Migration Podcast episode 5 A Safer Place / Migration
John Zammit and Michael Green (front) with Abdul Aziz Muhamat (via Skype) — Photo: Jon Tjhia
Madeleine Morris, Ben Doherty, John Zammit, Michael Green and Abdul Aziz Muhamat take audience questions — Photo: Jon Tjhia
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