'Colonialism is generally considered something that we are past or post, as historical or theoretical. Cultural theorist Stuart Hall described colonialism as the ‘outer face’ of Western modernity from 1492 on, its features expansion, conquest and hegemonisation. Australia’s modern-day mask looks an awful lot like colonialism, many of the pieces in this edition observe.' (Editorial introduction)
'Earlier this year, a campaign started at the University of Sydney, where I work and study, calling for the renaming of the Wentworth building and for the removal of a statue of William Charles Wentworth from the Great Hall. Wentworth is one of the founders of the university, honoured in colonial memory for his 1813 expedition with Gregory Blaxland and William Lawson across the Blue Mountains, a journey that precipitated the pastoral exploitation of Wiradjuri country. Less known is Wentworth’s interference in the 1838 trial of seven white stockmen who massacred up to thirty unarmed Gamilaraay people at Myall Creek, in which he prevented Aboriginal witnesses from giving testimony that would have likely resulted in conviction. The University of Sydney campaign builds on similar movements to remove colonial memorials from university campuses, such as the 2015 #RhodesMustFall campaign at the University of Cape Town, which continues to organise against social and institutional inequality. More recently, students and staff at the University of Melbourne successfully campaigned for Richard Berry’s name to be removed from a prominent building – Berry was a well-known eugenicist and collector of illegally acquired Aboriginal skeletal remains.' (Introduction)
'You shall know me by the books I kept.'
'I realise that it is a romantic and questionable notion, applying only to some people and in limited ways. But I live by the example of my parents, for whom books and reading were tools of emancipation.'
'Einstein’s theory of general relativity states that matter can cataclysmically implode, creating a state where a given density and the space-time curvature split towards infinite values. This is referred to as a singularity, or – as it is known to ordinary folk – a black hole. Extending out from a black hole’s unfathomably dense centre and extraordinary gravitational pull is a finite volume of space that ends in an event horizon: a demarcation – a line in the cosmic sands – from which nothing inside can escape: not rock, metal, Judas Priest, photons, alliteration or anything else. The closer that matter gets to a singularity, the more the laws of physics fail, eventually collapsing entirely.' (Introduction)
'This year, the Nakata Brophy competition focused on the short story. Notes from the judges – author Tara June Winch, Trinity College’s Katherine Firth, and Overland fiction editor Jennifer Mills – are below, followed by the entry that placed first in this year’s competition, Evelyn Araluen’s ‘Muyum: a transgression’.' (Introduction)
'When I crossed there was only little light darkly.
'This place where I have been told to find you is light and floor-stained tea tree, as my sister who dreams has described, she who sees still water when she hears my name. It is she who should be here to lay down in you and listen, but I was the one who was unravelled by silence.' (Introduction)
'What makes me burn are those times when I should have been kind and wasn’t, when a gesture might have made a difference and I didn’t make it. Perhaps it would have made no difference, but that’s not the point. I know that in those moments I betrayed something fundamental in the contract of human relationship.' (Introduction)
'I suddenly felt nauseous. The classroom’s lime-green tiles washed with afternoon light reminded me of a bathroom. I turned away from my students, grabbing at the windowsill where the dried-up whiteboard markers rested cap to end. The ceiling fan churned; outside, a car horn bellowed, followed by the call, more a lament than a sales pitch, ‘Aguaaaa, aguuuuua’. I sat down and waited for the nausea to pass.
'It was 2011 and I was living in a tiny town in Mexico’s Jalisco state. My plan had been to teach English for a year and then return to New Zealand better prepared to teach secondary Spanish.' (Introduction)
'In June 1916, my great-grandfather, Boota Khan, decided to return home to Punjab on a family visit with his wife Betsie and their five young children. But this presented a problem for Boota. He had migrated to the British colony of Victoria in the early 1890s, when the Australian nation did not exist. Boota was a hawker, who worked the streets of Melbourne with his cart, selling fabric, needles, thread and other goods. Boota was a hardworking practising Muslim. He fell in love with my great-grandmother on her mother’s front doorstep. They married, she converted to Islam, and they had a family.' (Introduction)
'The first question in the performance review asks: Describe the most rewarding task you have completed in your role in the past three months.
'I think: ‘Robbing dishwashing tablets from the cleaner’s cupboard for home.’ I write: ‘Finding a suitable foster carer for the Wilson siblings was very rewarding because I managed to keep them together …’' (Introduction)