Race, religion & identity
The Wheeler Centre
Writing in Exile: Samah Sabawi
Samah Sabawi at the Wheeler Centre
‘For Palestinian writers, we write for our lives,’ Samah Sabawi has written. ‘We write to exist.’
Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author, essayist and poet. She’s also a policy advisor for Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, and the second featured speaker in our PEN Writing in Exile series.
Sabawi's family left Palestine following Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip when she was a baby in 1967. She’s lived and worked across the globe throughout her life, but retains strong ties to the place of her birth. In Australia, she’s perhaps best known for her play, Tales of a City by the Sea, which won two Drama Victoria awards in 2016 and has also been rapturously received by audiences in Palestine, Canada and Malaysia. In the same year, the prolific Sabawi contributed to the anthology I Remember My Name, which received Middle East Monitor’s 2016 Palestine Book Award. Her most recent play, THEM, premieres later in May 2019 at the La Mama Courthouse.
Sabawi’s writing is concerned with displacement, conflict and diaspora. ‘Through writing our stories, our poems and songs,’ she has written, ‘we reconstruct our erased past, assert our present and try to shape our future.’ Appearing live at the Wheeler Centre, she talks to Sami Shah about writing for her life.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.
The Fifth Estate
The past decade has seen an alarming rise in antisemitic sentiment the world over – with violent attacks on synagogues by far-right extremists, and currents of hostility towards Jews from left-liberal circles. How do we account for this?
For this Fifth Estate conversation, presented in partnership with the Melbourne Writers Festival, Sally Warhaft will be joined by Jewish studies academic…
Double Booked Club
Tony Birch and Tara June Winch
For July’s Double Booked Club, we’ll see two major Australian talents discussing two of this year’s most highly anticipated novels.
Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri author, now based in France, whose debut novel, Swallow the Air, and short-story collection, After the Carnage, have won many awards, critical acclaim – and the affection of readers. Her second novel…
Pass it On: Preserving Australian Indigenous Languages
‘Budgerigar’, ‘quandong’, ‘Torana’, ‘Canberra’ – there are many Aboriginal words in everyday use by both non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. What do we gain from knowing and learning First Nations words? And how can we embed more traditional language into the daily lives of all Australians?
At least 250 Indigenous Australian languages were spoken on this continent in 1788. Today only…
The Fifth Estate
Post-Election Wrap 2019
Sally Warhaft and Paul Kelly
A month on from the federal election, once the dust has settled, we take an in-depth look at the events of 18 May and discuss what we might expect from the new Morrison government.
With a mandate, and likely a revamped front bench, can Scott Morrison unite a fractured country and leave a lasting legacy? What are the policy goals of the Liberals in their third term in government and how will they handle the cynicism that has infected much of the electorate? What kinds of new alliances might we see forming in the Left of politics over the next few years?
Host Sally Warhaft and veteran journalist Paul Kelly also discuss how the inaccuracy of the 2019 pre-election forecasts might affect our political culture. With predictions proving surprisingly inaccurate, is there reason to hope our elected representatives may now break free from the tyranny of fortnightly news polls? What might that mean for Labor?
The Fifth Estate
In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
Sally Warhaft and Frédéric Martel
The Catholic Church, writes Frédéric Martel, is ‘a system built ... on the homosexual double life and on the most dizzying homophobia … Without this key for understanding, the recent history of the Vatican and the Roman Church remains opaque.'
How is Martel qualified to make such statements? He is an acclaimed academic and journalist in France, and the author of several widely translated books on contemporary culture and political science, including The Pink and the Black, On Culture in America and Global Gay. His latest book, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, is the result of four years worth of investigative journalism, including hundreds of interviews across many corners of the globe, in efforts to understand the scope and culture of homosexuality within the Catholic Church.
Many of his sources – including priests, cardinals, Vatican administrative staff and sex workers – have spoken to Martel about widespread clerical homosexuality under terms of anonymity. Their combined testimony paints a portrait of a bizarre culture of conspiracy and cover-up, with ramifications that extend way beyond the sexual identities of individual priests and into church policies on contraception, IVF and the handling of cases of sexual abuse.
The Vatican, as Martel describes it, is a place of surreal duplicity. But an investigation with mostly anonymous sources raises its own questions about double standards. Join Martel for a discussion of his remarkable book with Sally Warhaft.
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