Race, religion & identity
The Wheeler Centre
Double Booked Club: Peter Polites and Christos Tsiolkas
Peter Polites and Christos Tsiolkas at the Wheeler Centre
For our last Double Booked Club of the year, Christos Tsiolkas was joined by Peter Polites.
Tsiolkas is the internationally acclaimed author of The Slap, Barracuda and Dead Europe. He's also a celebrated playwright, critic and short-story writer. His new novel, Damascus, is perhaps his most ambitious work yet, based on the gospel and letters of St Paul and concerned with the early days of the Christian church.
Peter Polites is among the most exciting new satirical voices in contemporary Australian literature. Hailing from western Sydney – a hotbed of provocative literary voices in recent years – Polites won praise for his 2017 neo-noir novel, Down the Hume. The book was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. His new novel, The Pillars, is about suburban aspiration and consumerism.
Both Tsiolkas and Polites are writers of Greek descent and both are animated by questions of class, sexuality and community. At this lunchtime session, hosted by Maxine Beneba Clarke, they discuss these themes and their latest work.
The Wheeler Centre
Writing in Exile: PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer
Sami Shah, Samah Sabawi, Mammad Aidani and Roza Germian at the Wheeler Centre
Writers and journalists are often among the first citizens targeted and punished by autocratic leaders. With creeping authoritarianism and instability in many regions around the world, it's an increasingly dangerous time for writers of all kinds.
On the eve of PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we held a special panel event as part of our Writers in Exile series to discuss old and emerging threats to literary freedoms today.
Host Sami Shah welcomed back the three writers who have shared their personal stories of exile – journalist Roza Germian, playwright Samah Sabawi and playwright and poet Mammad Aidani – for the last conversation in the series. They discuss their own experiences and their knowledge of press and literary restriction in their respective home countries – as well as the role Australia can and should play on the international stage with regards to protecting and protesting the freedom of writers here and overseas.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.
The Wheeler Centre
Broadside: Who Gave You Permission? Speaking Up and Speaking Out
Michelle Law, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld at Broadside — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer
When we’re described as ‘speaking out’, what people really mean is we’re ‘speaking out of turn’ – and that we do not have the authority to do so. Behaving well means accepting things as they are, and sticking your neck out if you’re not a white guy requires the knowledge that you may be seen as difficult, and unlikeable.
Many of us have to actively work at claiming the right to occupy space, jobs, or make noise that others simply take as their entitlement. Opposition and rebellion is necessary and invigorating, but bending the world until it breaks can come at a great personal cost, which is divided unevenly amongst us. So how do we blaze a trail without losing our own way?
Hosted by Michelle Law as part of Broadside 2019, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld discuss their voices and how their experiences have shaped their paths.
The Fifth Estate
Political Wrap 2019
For the final Fifth Estate of 2019, George Megalogenis returns to reflect with host Sally Warhaft on the year in Australian politics.
Sally Warhaft and George Megalogenis
They discuss the early manoeuvres of Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese, and the 46th federal parliament. They talk, too, about the stories that made domestic headlines – as well as how major international news events were felt here in Australia. What do these stories and controversies reveal about our country and our culture?
It’s been a wild ride of a decade in Australian politics, with seven prime ministers in 10 years. What does the next year – and the next decade – hold in store?
This is our final episode of The Fifth Estate for 2019; we'll be back early in 2020 with a new slate of conversations. Stay tuned!
The Fifth Estate
Samantha Power on Influence and Idealism
How does a person navigate the change from activist outsider to influential insider? How do you balance idealism and pragmatism under pressure?
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Samantha Power has had to navigate these questions first-hand. From a troubled childhood in Dublin to a career as a war correspondent then academic, she landed at the heart of American politics in 2005 – when her critiques of US foreign policy drew the attention of Barack Obama. She joined his team, eventually becoming a senior human rights adviser.
After an early misstep (she branded Hillary Clinton ‘a monster’, and lost her job over the incident), Power served in the White House’s National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. In 2013, she was appointed to the coveted position of US Ambassador to the United Nations.
As she reveals in her newest book, The Education of an Idealist, the intensity of her work was matched by personal struggle – trying to start a family, then raising young children; dealing with anxiety attacks and her own painful childhood. Power has been celebrated for her skill and influence, and has proudly worn the title of activist. She has also drawn sharp criticism from some quarters, particularly in her advocacy for ‘humanitarian intervention’, and her arguments for US action or inaction in Libya, Syria and Yemen.
In conversation with Sally Warhaft, Samantha Power discusses the complexity of decision-making, the tensions between activism and power, and the reconciliation of past and future.
Sally Warhaft and Samantha Power
The Wheeler Centre
Broadside: Tressie McMillan Cottom
Tressie McMillan Cottom — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer
'People really like to consume [black women] – our emotions, our cultural exchanges, the way we look, the way we speak, our experiences, our traumas. We do not have as much capacity for rendering visible our intellectual work … Can I evoke an emotional response from an audience? Publishers will want me to publish something that will be evocative, without being thought-provoking.'
With Thick, Tressie McMillan Cottom delivered a treatise on beauty, media, money, misogyny and race, a searing analysis animated by the ‘radical idea …[that] black women are rational and human’.
An award-winning sociologist, professor and author described as ‘transgressive, provocative, and brilliant’ by her Hear to Slay co-host Roxane Gay, McMillan Cottom works her way through politics, history, sociology and culture with critical dexterity and unapologetic force.
In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, McMillan Cottom joins Aminatou Sow to discuss her work and career – including navigating academia, the publishing industry and addressing perceptions of how her work fits into various categories.
Anything and everything in Race, religion & identity from across our archives.
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