'I thought I would begin this talk about the power and purpose of literature by talking about my 1998 book Take Power. The title came from a Gurindji Elder while telling the story of the ten-year battle his people fought against Vestey’s, a British pastoral company that owned the Wave Hill pastoral property in the north-west of the Northern Territory, when in 1966, 200 Gurindji, the traditional landowners, walked off the cattle station where they worked on their stolen lands because of the harsh treatment they were receiving from the management of the pastoral property. Vincent Lingiari, who led his people off Wave Hill, said: ‘We can’t go back to that Vestey’s. Vestey’s been treating me like a walagu (dog). Make mefella worry.’ The Gurindji kept telling their story straight, and eventually they achieved land rights over part of their traditional lands.' (Introduction)
'Like the travel memoirs of writers who have wandered the Songlines of the Australian desert under the guidance of indigenous custodians, Aboriginal desert art offers a window into the lyrical and sacred world of the Dreaming. The paintings of the EarthSong exhibition (Australian Catholic University, 2015) embody excerpts from the song-myth cycles of the Western Desert; using ceremonial iconography to portray the actions of Ancestral Beings at specific sites, they form maps of terrain and title deeds to country. An exploration of several of the exhibition’s paintings affords a sense of the beauty, drama and complexity of the song-myth cycles that underpin and connect all of the paintings in the collection.' (Publication abstract)
'Throughout history, anthropologists have confronted a number of uncomfortable truths around the supposed nature of reality. The anthropological maxim, "through the study of others we learn more about ourselves" has been sorely tested en route. Arguably, this challenge reached culmination during the 1970s and 80s, with several prominent social commentators from Geertz to Clifford suggesting that anthropologists had, in both past and present, been much more concerned with the study of 'others' than of 'ourselves' (Nader 1964:289). In essence, this reflexive critique suggested that ethnographers were in the business of writing fiction and more insidiously came to the field equipped with a set of assumptions and presuppositions about the world in all its variety. These universal verities functioned to reduce all subjects of study into conformity with the observer's sense of what was real and of import and what was not and inconsequential.' (Publication summary)
'This paper takes its lead from the poet John Keats’ notion of ‘negative capability’ (1891: 48), exploring some of the key methodologies of representing landscapes in writing, specifically using place to effect the process of ‘… being capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubt, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason …’ (48).
Keats refers to the poet as ‘taking part’ in the life of the poem; and being in the poem. This paper features our own poetry, located in two different landscapes and with its own understanding of place, which captures a sense of connection to rugged and remote terrains. To evoke this sense of connection, Keats’ negative capability comes into play—understood in this paper as a metaphysical space where a meditative state provides the writer with a ‘glimpse’; a recognition of that moment of connection without which ‘poetry cannot happen’ (Oliver 1994: 84)
Our writing, as will be discussed, is individually informed by knowledge about environment and notions of poetic space, where ‘aspects of the unconscious move into consciousness’ (Hetherington 2012: 8). This paper explores the commonalities and distinctions between our work, using brief examples.' (Publication abstract)