‘You’ll be great, but only if you work your arse off.’ An interview with Tony Birch

Type
Article
Category
Long read
Writing

As I read Ghost River, and the parallel narratives of Birch’s river men – their fear of police and hospitals – alongside Ms Dhu’s death and her family’s fight for justice, I tried to make sense of how to read these stories that are fictional and those that are true. And in the case of Ms Dhu, how to bear a true story that no one in positions of power cared to believe until it was too late.

Tones
Teresia Teaiwa
Type
Reflection
Category
Culture
Politics

Vale Teresia Teaiwa

The Pacific has lost one of its great scholars, activists, champion of the arts and leading lights with the passing of Dr Teresia Teaiwa. Teresia’s impact in the Pacific was as expansive as the ocean which carried her across the region from Hawaii, Kiribati, Fiji and Aoteroa. In her poetry and scholarship she would turn to the Pacific Ocean as a metaphor of a universality that connects Pacific and oppressed peoples

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Type
Article
Category
Precarity
The internet

On social media, you’re the only loser

As time went on, and I remained out of a job, I turned on email alerts, began checking my profile daily, and then twice daily. Soon enough I was spending hours each day trawling the site. I had time – I was anxious and broke. In my desperation, LinkedIn seemed to hold the answers, if only I looked long and hard enough.

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Type
Article
Category
Reading
Technology

Let us tell you what you like

In 1996, in a remarkably prescient letter to Jorge Luis Borges, penned a decade after his death, Susan Sontag hypothesised a possible future of reading: ‘Soon, we are told, we will call up on ‘bookscreens’ any ‘text’ on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, ‘interact’ with it. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality.’

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Type
Article
Category
Islam
Politics

Insecurity archipelago: liberal Islam and its limits

For some time now, Muslim activists have been increasingly aware and vocal about how their identity continues to be evacuated of political content. That this identity has momentarily exhausted its political potential can be gleaned from its consistently exhausted looking ambassadors, like Abdel-Magied, as they desperately try to affect the right composure, the pithy expressions, and the sufficient expertise to make themselves heard and taken seriously, not least by their opponents.

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Type
Article
Category
Feminism
Sport

Wen you laugh togetha

There’s something quaint and precious about this beginning – the huge grins on the players’ faces as they run out, the excitement of the fans, and the homegrown, back-to-basics, good-old-days feeling of walking into a suburban footy ground to stand on the terraces and watch the match. It’s not only the presence of the women players. In the opening season we have seen female field umpires officiating matches, watched Bec Goddard coaching Adelaide, and been introduced to many women sports reporters and commentators.

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Type
Polemic
Category
Far right
LGBTQI

Frenemies: severing the ties between LGBTQI and the far right

So here we are: the LGBT community, once marginalised, once anathema to the values of the far right is now told that it’s only within the fold of the far right that we’ll be safe and welcome. Except that rather than the far right shielding us from attack, our rights and our existence are being used to shield groups like the FN from the charge that they’re socially backward.

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Type
Article
Category
Australia
The Body

Bodies fit for consumption

In Australia – a wealthy and democratic country – we have a wealth of ‘shit’. But most of ‘it’ is invisible: the imprisoned refugees hidden in the torture prisons on Nauru and Manus islands; the homeless people of Melbourne who will soon be removed from the city’s centre; Indigenous peoples whose individuality and personhood is obscured by the tabloid spectre of blackness that links Indigeneity to alcoholism, barbarity, and violence.

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Type
Article
Category
Film
Technology

Sexbots, broken dolls and other artificial women

Artificial women have served as temptresses and traps in myths, legends and fiction, usually constructed to reinforce or critique a misogynistic worldview in which all female emotion and compassion is seen as false and designed to manipulate men. The artificial woman is a familiar cinematic trope, and better entries in this milieu can present profound questions about gender, posthumanism, technological anxiety and romantic desire.

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Type
Article
Category
Inequality
Labour rights

Women’s work: the stigma continues

However, since the early 1990s, research has shown that rather than hitting a glass ceiling, men working in the ‘female professions’ take a ride on what sociologist Christine Williams famously termed ‘the glass escalator’. In 1992, she wrote, ‘men take their gender privilege with them when they enter predominantly female occupations; this translates into an advantage in spite of their numerical rarity’.

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Type
Article
Category
Politics
Unions

The problem with ‘Join your union’

After the Fair Work Commission’s decision in February to cut Sunday penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers, it was virtually impossible to scroll through Facebook without seeing a post urging angry workers to join their union. Union membership was presented as the means to resist not only the Commission’s decision, but all of the industrial woes of our time. However, there is a striking dissonance between the portrait of union power painted by our Facebook feeds, and the material reality.

Capture
Type
Article
Category
Capitalism
Gaming

Game over: players in right wing worlds

The fallout from the ‘Gamergate’ movement and its call for naive ‘objectivity’ has led to a reductionist approach in many gamer circles, whereby gamers try to focus exclusively on game mechanics in the hopes of ending the ‘politicisation’ of the hobby, which they say has impaired the quality of modern games and critical appraisals. But almost all games are inherently political, and refusing to acknowledge it doesn’t change their subtext or reality.

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Type
Article
Category
Sexism
The internet

Memories of MySpace: normalising women’s experiences online

While it would be absurd to claim that women haven’t ever traditionally existed on cyber landscapes, their experiences are often filtered through a masculine lens, or deemed to serve a masculine function. In turn, a woman sharing a photograph of herself in a lavender bikini isn’t just a photo of a woman in a lavender bikini. Her intentions are redundant, her authorship stale and meaningless.

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Type
Reflection
Category
Long read

Eulogistics: the stories we tell after death

Doctor Henry Peak, my grandpa, was a complicated and difficult man. As a result, when he died in 2006 there were a lot of conflicting emotions on the part of his immediate family: his five children (David, Patrick, Samuel, Megan and Jonathon), his ex-wife and mother of their children (Diane), his daughter-in-law (Elizabeth) and son-in-law (another Patrick), his ex daughters-in-law (Susan, Adelina, Katelin) and his brother (Paul).

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Type
Article
Category
Feminism
Television

How Buffy slayed

Buffy creator Joss Whedon did not set out to write ‘strong women’, but rather strongly written women. Buffy having slayer strength and the ability to poke stakes through the hearts of vampires don’t make her an innately strong character. Rather, that she is attentively written as a living breathing human, with a fully realised personality, personal quirks, weaknesses and vulnerabilities, make her an SFL. She is not a mere caricature of what a woman should be within a vacuum of cultural bias.

Capture
Type
Article
Category
Australia
Racism

Welcome! (Kind of.) The problem with being declared 'Aussie'

The perception that white Australians have the authority to dictate non-white identities fits more broadly into what anthropologist Ghassan Hage refers to as a ‘white national fantasy’. According to this fantasy, white Australians assume the role of ‘spatial managers’ of the Australian nation space. This fantasy does not prohibit the mere presence of non-white individuals. Rather, central to it is the assumption that white Australians have the right to ‘direct the traffic’.