How do dominant historical narratives keep hidden the lives and deaths of others, and what do these narratives cost us? From the colonisation of Indigenous lands to the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust, this conversation explores bodies hidden by history, and how writing can work toward a recovery of their stories.
Part of the 2020 Wollongong Writers Festival, this author panel features Australian Indigenous writer Bruce Pascoe, the author of Dark Emu, and Leah Kaminsky, author of The Hollow Bones and The Waiting Room, along with myself discussing My Name Is Revenge, chaired by journalist Osman Faruqi.
When festival director Chloe Higgins approached me about programming a panel, I knew exactly who I wanted to speak with.
Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu is the most revelatory book I’ve read during my decade in Australia. In his survey of early European accounts of the continent, Bruce Pascoe reveals how complex Indigenous agriculture and architecture truly was, and so urges us to reconsider our understanding of Aboriginal civilisation. As he concludes, ‘To deny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agricultural and spiritual achievement is the single greatest impediment to intercultural understanding and, perhaps, to Australian moral wellbeing and economic prosperity.’
As I wrote in How to Be Australian, I think Pascoe’s book should be part of the citizenship process. All Australians should read it, and consider what this land was, and what it could be again.
There are obvious connections between the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. Leah Kaminsky is an Australian author who writes, among many things, about being a descendent of Jewish Holocaust survivors, and we’ll be speaking about these connections.
Less obvious but equally fascinating are the connections between the Armenian genocide and the destruction of Aboriginal communities and ways of life. As Pascoe’s book shows, history has been warped, hidden and narrowed. The mechanics of this are far more complex than in the denial of the Armenian genocide, which was a decision made and implemented by successive governments, beginning in the planning phase of the genocide.
This is sure to be a fascinating discussion. Please join us online.
The Bodies History Hides >>
Wollongong Writers Festival
Saturday 28 November, 4pm AEDT, online