This edition is off to print at the same time as Indigenous activists are establishing Camp Freedom on the Gold Coast, a protest against the stolen wealth that props up yet another Australian Commonwealth Games spectacle. Camp Freedom has echoes of Melbourne’s 2006 Camp Sovereignty, a powerful demonstration against colonial authority, which Tony Birch documents within these pages. Such occupations, Birch writes, present ‘a spectre of repressed Indigenous histories’ that ‘stake a claim’ on past and present.
And what of claims on the future? ‘Western colonisation is a haunting that started with genocide and continues with the Anthropocene,’ Jess Cockerill argues in a recent article in Overland’s online magazine, which takes readers to the shrinking giant kelp forests off the edge of Tasmania and introduces them to the work of researcher Emma Lee, who specialises in Indigenous land management. ‘I think traditional knowledges are about managing change,’ Lee says. ‘There’s not an Indigenous mob on the face of this earth that hasn’t gone through massive climate change.’ Including the destruction that came with invasion.
But it is difficult to live in this period with its ongoing and pervasive environmental ruination and not feel the haunting that shadows this era – that of ‘a nostalgia for lost futures’. It is these lost futures that the writing in this edition interrogates, from Evelyn Araluen’s Judith Wright Poetry Prize-winning ‘Guarded by birds’ to Jennifer Mills’ encounter with the cuttlefish population off the coast of Port Augusta. ‘Climate change is not as straightforward as extinction and apocalypse,’ Cockerill reminds us, and it is what lies between and around catastrophe that many of the writers here explore. There is also the state of the Australian short story, domestic violence, Tehran in 1983, Henry Lawson’s lingering appeal, the Wayback Machine and the utopian city, in an essay that calls to mind Owen Hatherly’s question from Militant Modernism: ‘Can we, should we, try and excavate utopia?’
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