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The Wheeler Centre

Updated 8 days ago

Arts
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Philosophy
Books
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Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks, featuring the best in books, writing and ideas from Melbourne, Australia.

Read more

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks, featuring the best in books, writing and ideas from Melbourne, Australia.

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Cover image of The Wheeler Centre

The Wheeler Centre

Latest release on Dec 16, 2019

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Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks, featuring the best in books, writing and ideas from Melbourne, Australia.

Rank #1: Toxic Femininity: White Tears/Brown Scars

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Hella Ibrahim, Ruby Hamad and Celeste Liddle at the Wheeler Centre

In 2018, Sydney journalist Ruby Hamad wrote an article for the Guardian that touched a nerve with readers around the world. The article, ‘How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour,’ was about the special and dangerous claims white women make to victimhood – in the workplace, in public debate, and in private interactions – and how these adversely affect and are wielded against women of colour.

The ‘damsel in distress’ tactic, Hamad wrote, is employed ‘to muster sympathy and avoid accountability, by turning the tables and accusing the accuser.’ 

She has since adapted the article into a new book, White Tears/Brown Scars. Hosted by Hella Ibrahim, Hamad is joined at the Wheeler Centre by Arrernte activist and social commentator Celeste Liddle for a discussion about what happens when racism and sexism collide. 

Sep 30 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #2: Young Faithful

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Fatima Measham, Amal Ibrahim, Nevo Zisin and Brooke Rutherford at the Wheeler Centre

In 2001, 19% of people aged under 24 identified as not religious. By 2016, the figure had increased to 35%. We're losing our religion – fast. What might we be losing along with it? And what's it like to be a young believer in an increasingly secular society?

For this conversation, we brought together three young people from different faiths – Amal Ibrahim, Nevo Zisin and Brooke Rutherford – to discuss the role religion plays in their lives. 

Can religious institutions change the way they talk to young people? How does religious faith enrich the lives of young Australians? How is faith tested or altered during adolescence and young adulthood? And how does faith intersect with questions of race, gender and sexuality?

Sep 19 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

Rank #3: Writing in Exile: PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer

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Sami Shah, Samah Sabawi, Mammad Aidani and Roza Germian at the Wheeler Centre

Writers and journalists are often among the first citizens targeted and punished by autocratic leaders. With creeping authoritarianism and instability in many regions around the world, it's an increasingly dangerous time for writers of all kinds.

On the eve of PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we held a special panel event as part of our Writers in Exile series to discuss old and emerging threats to literary freedoms today.

Host Sami Shah welcomed back the three writers who have shared their personal stories of exile  – journalist Roza Germian, playwright Samah Sabawi and playwright and poet Mammad Aidani – for the last conversation in the series. They discuss their own experiences and their knowledge of press and literary restriction in their respective home countries – as well as the role Australia can and should play on the international stage with regards to protecting and protesting the freedom of writers here and overseas. 

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

Dec 05 2019

58mins

Play

Rank #4: Broadside: Who Gave You Permission? Speaking Up and Speaking Out

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Michelle Law, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld at Broadside — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

When we’re described as ‘speaking out’, what people really mean is we’re ‘speaking out of turn’ – and that we do not have the authority to do so. Behaving well means accepting things as they are, and sticking your neck out if you’re not a white guy requires the knowledge that you may be seen as difficult, and unlikeable.

Many of us have to actively work at claiming the right to occupy space, jobs, or make noise that others simply take as their entitlement. Opposition and rebellion is necessary and invigorating, but bending the world until it breaks can come at a great personal cost, which is divided unevenly amongst us. So how do we blaze a trail without losing our own way?

Hosted by Michelle Law as part of Broadside 2019, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld discuss their voices and how their experiences have shaped their paths.

Dec 05 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

Rank #5: Broadside: Rage Against the Machine: Feminism and Capitalism

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The panel, from left to right: Santilla Chingaipe, Fatima Bhutto, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Jia Tolentino and Aminatou Sow — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

What is feminism under capitalism? What is feminism without it?

'Art does become so very important – because it does help a community articulate a way of understanding the world that allows them to reimagine it, rather than reproducing it.'

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Not all of us can afford to lean in, because some of us aren’t even in the room. We’re rightly galvanised by the fact that there are more CEOs at ASX200 companies in Australia named Andrew than there are women – but when did feminism become about earning power? Doesn’t it have to be anti-capitalist? Market ideas about success and failure seem like a shaky foundation for liberation for the 99% of women, so what does an uncommodified resistance look like?

In this conversation from Broadside 2019, hosted by Santilla Chingaipe, our panellists – Aminatou Sow, Fatima Bhutto, Jia Tolentino and Tressie McMillan Cottom – discuss she-EOs, 'ethical consumption', reimagining value and good ancestorship.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Jia Tolentino and Aminatou Sow on stage at Melbourne Town Hall — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

Nov 18 2019

55mins

Play

Rank #6: Broadside: Necessary Truths: Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy

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Sisonke Msimang, Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy on stage at Melbourne Town Hall — Photo: Sophie Quick

'The role of artists is never to celebrate power.'

Fatima Bhutto

There's a million reasons why we're told to keep quiet on difficult subjects: propriety and decorum, convention and status, fear of retribution. When women try to introduce nuance into certain public debates, it doesn't usually go well for them. Western media conglomerates are often more interested in protecting power than interrogating it. If a woman offers an unvarnished analysis of power structures, or a contrary view, it's often framed as ugly, inappropriate or ungrateful.

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, two of the world’s most fearless, most honest, most forthright voices – Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy – unpick the challenges and pitfalls of a life of truth. With host Sisonke Msimang, they discuss artistry, the west, power and biography.

Nov 18 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #7: Broadside: Tressie McMillan Cottom

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Tressie McMillan Cottom — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

'People really like to consume [black women] – our emotions, our cultural exchanges, the way we look, the way we speak, our experiences, our traumas. We do not have as much capacity for rendering visible our intellectual work … Can I evoke an emotional response from an audience? Publishers will want me to publish something that will be evocative, without being thought-provoking.'

With Thick, Tressie McMillan Cottom delivered a treatise on beauty, media, money, misogyny and race, a searing analysis animated by the ‘radical idea …[that] black women are rational and human’.

An award-winning sociologist, professor and author described as ‘transgressive, provocative, and brilliant’ by her Hear to Slay co-host Roxane Gay, McMillan Cottom works her way through politics, history, sociology and culture with critical dexterity and unapologetic force. 

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, McMillan Cottom joins Aminatou Sow to discuss her work and career – including navigating academia, the publishing industry and addressing perceptions of how her work fits into various categories.

Nov 12 2019

1hr 2mins

Play

Rank #8: Broadside: Taking Up Space: Building the City That We Deserve

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A woman’s place in the world and right to move through it freely has always been controlled. Workplaces, our city streets, pubs and parks are not just traditionally unwelcoming, but can be dangerous and destructive. Patriarchy has, until now, dominated our public spaces, and the way that different bodies and identities are policed within them.

So how can public space be reconceived, and how can we create a city that is truly accessible? Can we break our urban environments free from Anglocentric and gendered constructs of the past? And – are we even asking the right questions?

Pictured, left to right: Jan Fran, Niki Kalms, Caroline Martin, Gala Vanting and Jax Jacki Brown — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, host Jan Fran leads a discussion with writer and sex worker advocate Gala Vanting, spoken word performer and disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival creative director and Yalukit Marnang founder Caroline Martin and Monash University design researcher and XYX Lab founding director Nicole Kalms. They talk about urban space – and, ultimately, the intellectual work we have to do before we can even begin to talk about building anything.

Nov 12 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #9: William Dalrymple: Corporate Violence and the East India Company

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Clare Wright and William Dalrymple at the Athenaeum Theatre — Photo: Jon Tjhia

Historian William Dalrymple ­­believes the stunning greed and violence of the militarised East India Company is ‘history’s most terrifying warning’ about unregulated corporate power, and the insidious means by which shareholders exert dangerous influence on the state.

Dalrymple – co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and bestselling author of books including The Last MughalCity of Djinns and Nine Lives – examines the corporation’s ruinous legacy in his latest work, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.

The Anarchy describes an aggressive colonial power operating under the guise of a multinational company, using a ruthless 200,000-strong private army to extort, plunder and dominate vast swathes of Central, South and Southeast Asia – answerable only to its distant investors. At a time when global media corporations and tech giants wield growing and increasingly pervasive power and influence, the story is a timely cautionary tale. 

At this event, William Dalrymple joins author Clare Wright to discuss the long reach and devastating legacy of the East India Company.

Nov 08 2019

59mins

Play

Rank #10: Tell Me a Story: Mem Fox on Reading Aloud

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Michael Williams and Mem Fox, in conversation at the Wheeler Centre

Mem Fox is a legend of Australian children's literature. More than 35 years after her first book, Possum Magic, was published, it is still printed in hardback, with its iconic original illustrations by Julie Vivas.

In the intervening years, Fox has somehow managed an academic career as a literacy expert, while writing 40 more books. She’s charmed generations of readers with stories of Australian children and animals, including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesBaby BedtimeWombat Divine and Where is the Green Sheep?

Through her books, Fox has also helped young readers grapple with difficult topics – perhaps most famously with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Her new book, too, broaches a difficult topic with great wisdom and sensitivity. The Tiny Star is about life and death, and it's told in an unmistakably tender and lyrical voice – the singular voice of Mem Fox – with illustrations by the award-winning Freya Blackwood. 

At this very special event hosted by Michael Williams, Fox discusses her stories and her career. She shares, too, why encouraging us all to read aloud has been such an important part of her work.

Nov 04 2019

58mins

Play

The Show of the Year 2019

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Content note: This podcast episode contains some strong language, and mentions violence and child sexual abuse.

As the decade turns, The Show of the Year marks 2019 in style – with host Casey Bennetto and a glittering line-up of writers, comedians and musicians. Paul Kelly, Nath Valvo, Alice Bishop, Sista Zai Zanda, Margot Morales Tanjutco, Laura Jean, Alice Gorman, Evelyn Araluen, The Merindas, Brodie Lancaster, Louise Milligan and Bill Shorten share their thoughts on subjects as various as the decommissioning of the Opportunity Rover on Mars, the Tigers' premiership run, the death of Toni Morrison, The Masked Singer and the closure of Uluru to tourists.

Select an image to view in detail

Select an image to view in detail

What a year. Protests shook Hong Kong, the Amazon caught fire and children led a worldwide climate strike. Boris Johnson picked up the prime ministerial ball as it came loose from the back of the scrum, Scott Morrison baseball-capped his way back into government, and Trump impeachment talk turned to (some) action. 

We said goodbye to towering figures in literature and politics, including Toni Morrison, Bob Hawke, Les Murray, Clive James and Mary Oliver. And we farewelled meowing figures of the internet. (R.I.P. Grumpy Cat.)

There were the mandatory Big Cultural Moments, too: someone (no spoilers) finally won the Game of Thrones, Fleabag stormed the Emmys, and a Sydney real estate video went viral. Beyoncé came home, Fyre Festival blew up (again) and Lil Nas X shot to stardom via TikTok. Ah yes, how could we forget: TikTok.

Goodbye 2019 … we hardly knew ye! 

Dec 16 2019

2hr 39mins

Play

Claire G. Coleman: The Old Lie

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Tyson Yunkaporta and Claire G. Coleman at the Wheeler Centre

Claire G. Coleman believes speculative fiction is a powerful political tool. ‘It’s a genre in which there’s great scope for Aboriginal literature … It’s able to sneak politics into places people don’t expect to see it.'

Coleman's revelatory 2017 debut novel, Terra Nullius, depicted an alternative Australia – a continent of either the distant past or the distant future – with an entire, brutal ‘future history’ constructed in meticulous detail. The novel received local and international critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize.

Every Aboriginal piece of literature is apocalyptic, because Aboriginal people are a post-apocalyptic people.

With Coleman's new book, The Old Lie, she returns to themes of invasion, dispossession and apocalypse. Again, it's a novel of startling and alarming twists. And again, it's an outstanding contribution to the growing body of superb speculative fiction from Aboriginal authors, also including Alexis Wright and Ellen van Neerven.

For this conversation, Coleman is joined by Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World. The pair discuss craft, creativity and Indigenous imaginations. Does speculative fiction have in-built critical mechanisms that especially serve Indigenous authors?

Dec 16 2019

58mins

Play

Mirror Mirror: Beauty, Body Image and the Self

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Bri Lee, Nikki Stamp, Abbey Mag and Frances Cannon at the Wheeler Centre

Bri Lee's Beauty is a deeply personal treatise on body image, discipline and perfectionism. For this discussion, hosted by Lee herself, our panellists take the essay as a jumping-off point for a broader conversation about beauty standards in the 21st Century.

Together, they consider the beauty lies we tell ourselves and each other, and explore the impossible standards amplified through social media. What impact is our obsession with beauty and wellness having on our physical and mental health? When wielded by major multinational brands, do ideas of beauty diversity, inclusion and body positivity signify progress or ploy? Can they be both?

Join artist and ‘Self Love Club’ founder Frances Cannon, plus-size model and advocate Abbey Mag and doctor and author Nikki Stamp as they discuss reasons for caution and celebration in a time of changing beauty ideals.

A warning: this event includes some discussion of eating disorders and mental illness.

Dec 16 2019

55mins

Play

We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging

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Homelessness can take many guises – sleeping rough, yes, but also couch-surfing, squatting, or staying in a refuge, boarding house or caravan park. The same can be said of the people who experience homelessness. Not defined simply by their predicament, they’re a diverse group. They may be siblings, parents, grandparents; people who study or work; people who’ve moved or migrated, yet to find their feet. People with full lives, and much to offer. 

A new profit-for-purpose book from Affirm Press, We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging, is a testament to the unique insights of people who’ve known homelessness in Australia. Edited by novelist, homelessness researcher and former Big Issue deputy editor Meg Mundell, it offers a bounty of extraordinary true stories from a wide range of writers – prominent names, emerging voices and first-timers – who have themselves experienced homelessness. Behrouz Boochani, Krissy Kneen and Claire G. Coleman appear alongside undiscovered talents, exploring the idea of place – and how our sense of it changes when homeless.

Hosted by Mundell, and presented in partnership with Writers Victoria, hear from contributors Claire G. Coleman, Roderick Waller, Ayub Abdi-Barre and Jody Letts about their stories, their places and their writing. Hear readings from the book – and learn about the process of putting it together – at this celebration of survival, place and belonging.

'It’d be near-impossible to read this rich and humane mosaic of stories and not have how you conceive of homelessness completely reframed. A beautiful testament to survival, resilience and hope.' – Benjamin Law

Prefer to watch? Catch up on our live-streamed video below. Includes Auslan interpretation.

We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging

Watch

Dec 09 2019

58mins

Play

Double Booked Club: Peter Polites and Christos Tsiolkas

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Peter Polites and Christos Tsiolkas at the Wheeler Centre

For our last Double Booked Club of the year, Christos Tsiolkas was joined by Peter Polites.

Tsiolkas is the internationally acclaimed author of The SlapBarracuda and Dead Europe. He's also a celebrated playwright, critic and short-story writer. His new novel, Damascus, is perhaps his most ambitious work yet, based on the gospel and letters of St Paul and concerned with the early days of the Christian church.

Peter Polites is among the most exciting new satirical voices in contemporary Australian literature. Hailing from western Sydney – a hotbed of provocative literary voices in recent years – Polites won praise for his 2017 neo-noir novel, Down the Hume. The book was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. His new novel, The Pillars, is about suburban aspiration and consumerism.

Both Tsiolkas and Polites are writers of Greek descent and both are animated by questions of class, sexuality and community. At this lunchtime session, hosted by Maxine Beneba Clarke, they discuss these themes and their latest work.

Dec 06 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Writing in Exile: PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer

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Sami Shah, Samah Sabawi, Mammad Aidani and Roza Germian at the Wheeler Centre

Writers and journalists are often among the first citizens targeted and punished by autocratic leaders. With creeping authoritarianism and instability in many regions around the world, it's an increasingly dangerous time for writers of all kinds.

On the eve of PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we held a special panel event as part of our Writers in Exile series to discuss old and emerging threats to literary freedoms today.

Host Sami Shah welcomed back the three writers who have shared their personal stories of exile  – journalist Roza Germian, playwright Samah Sabawi and playwright and poet Mammad Aidani – for the last conversation in the series. They discuss their own experiences and their knowledge of press and literary restriction in their respective home countries – as well as the role Australia can and should play on the international stage with regards to protecting and protesting the freedom of writers here and overseas. 

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

Dec 05 2019

58mins

Play

Broadside: Who Gave You Permission? Speaking Up and Speaking Out

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Michelle Law, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld at Broadside — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

When we’re described as ‘speaking out’, what people really mean is we’re ‘speaking out of turn’ – and that we do not have the authority to do so. Behaving well means accepting things as they are, and sticking your neck out if you’re not a white guy requires the knowledge that you may be seen as difficult, and unlikeable.

Many of us have to actively work at claiming the right to occupy space, jobs, or make noise that others simply take as their entitlement. Opposition and rebellion is necessary and invigorating, but bending the world until it breaks can come at a great personal cost, which is divided unevenly amongst us. So how do we blaze a trail without losing our own way?

Hosted by Michelle Law as part of Broadside 2019, Nayuka Gorrie, Raquel Willis, Ariel Levy and Curtis Sittenfeld discuss their voices and how their experiences have shaped their paths.

Dec 05 2019

1hr 4mins

Play

The Next Big Thing: Most Underrated Book Award Edition 2019

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Composite, left to right: Melissa Cranenburgh, Lenka Vanderboom, James Cristina and Ilka Tampke

What's small, nerdy, fiercely independent and sometimes noisy? The Small Press Network's Most Underrated Book Award. It's an anticipated annual tradition – always our last Next Big Thing event of the year – and it's the only peer-reviewed and proven preventative medicine for your chronic case of reader's FOMO.

Now in its seventh year, the Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Award celebrates independently published titles that deserve some extra attention. Previously, the award has gone to The Cook by Wayne Macauley, A Wrong Turn in the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson. Last year's winner was Living in Hope by the late Frank Byrne.

The 2019 shortlisted titles are Brontide by Sue McPherson (Magabala Books), Antidote to a Curse by James Cristina (Transit Lounge) and Songwoman by Ilka Tampke (Text Publishing), and the 2019 judging panel is Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang. 

In this episode, we hear readings from the shortlisted works, and toast a great year in independent publishing, before revealing the 2019 MUBA winner. We're joined by each of the shortlisted authors (except Sue McPherson, who is represented by Magabala Books director Lenka Vanderboom). Melissa Cranenburgh hosts.

Presented in partnership with Small Press Network.

Nov 28 2019

39mins

Play

Broadside: Helen Garner

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'I just threw out all ideas of inspiration years ago. It's all just noticing. You've got to walk around the world looking at things and listening and paying attention.'

In the words of one critic 'to read Helen Garner is to discover what might be her defining characteristic: awakeness and aliveness to the thingness of things'. Garner, a national treasure, has now spent almost half a century showing us who we are and how it is. And she has sharpened this singular style — her humour, sense of the absurd and incisive observation – over a lifetime of writing diaries. 

Sarah Krasnostein, left, and Helen Garner — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

To coincide with the publication of Yellow Notebook, Diaries Volume I: 1978–1987, Garner shares with us the pages that offer a glimpse into the honing and shaping of a craft. Beginning in the 1970s just after the publication of her first novel, Monkey Grip, the book offers a unique insight into how decades of privately shaped internal dialogue creates a voice, and makes a writer.

In conversation with Sarah Krasnostein, Garner discusses the logic of writing, redacting and publishing one's diaries – as well as reflecting on creativity, the emotionally loaded space of hospitals and courtrooms, the architecture of sentences and her fascination with strangers.

Nov 25 2019

1hr 2mins

Play

Broadside: Rage Against the Machine: Feminism and Capitalism

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The panel, from left to right: Santilla Chingaipe, Fatima Bhutto, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Jia Tolentino and Aminatou Sow — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

What is feminism under capitalism? What is feminism without it?

'Art does become so very important – because it does help a community articulate a way of understanding the world that allows them to reimagine it, rather than reproducing it.'

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Not all of us can afford to lean in, because some of us aren’t even in the room. We’re rightly galvanised by the fact that there are more CEOs at ASX200 companies in Australia named Andrew than there are women – but when did feminism become about earning power? Doesn’t it have to be anti-capitalist? Market ideas about success and failure seem like a shaky foundation for liberation for the 99% of women, so what does an uncommodified resistance look like?

In this conversation from Broadside 2019, hosted by Santilla Chingaipe, our panellists – Aminatou Sow, Fatima Bhutto, Jia Tolentino and Tressie McMillan Cottom – discuss she-EOs, 'ethical consumption', reimagining value and good ancestorship.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Jia Tolentino and Aminatou Sow on stage at Melbourne Town Hall — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

Nov 18 2019

55mins

Play

Broadside: Necessary Truths: Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy

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Sisonke Msimang, Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy on stage at Melbourne Town Hall — Photo: Sophie Quick

'The role of artists is never to celebrate power.'

Fatima Bhutto

There's a million reasons why we're told to keep quiet on difficult subjects: propriety and decorum, convention and status, fear of retribution. When women try to introduce nuance into certain public debates, it doesn't usually go well for them. Western media conglomerates are often more interested in protecting power than interrogating it. If a woman offers an unvarnished analysis of power structures, or a contrary view, it's often framed as ugly, inappropriate or ungrateful.

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, two of the world’s most fearless, most honest, most forthright voices – Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy – unpick the challenges and pitfalls of a life of truth. With host Sisonke Msimang, they discuss artistry, the west, power and biography.

Nov 18 2019

1hr 1min

Play

Broadside: Tressie McMillan Cottom

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Tressie McMillan Cottom — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

'People really like to consume [black women] – our emotions, our cultural exchanges, the way we look, the way we speak, our experiences, our traumas. We do not have as much capacity for rendering visible our intellectual work … Can I evoke an emotional response from an audience? Publishers will want me to publish something that will be evocative, without being thought-provoking.'

With Thick, Tressie McMillan Cottom delivered a treatise on beauty, media, money, misogyny and race, a searing analysis animated by the ‘radical idea …[that] black women are rational and human’.

An award-winning sociologist, professor and author described as ‘transgressive, provocative, and brilliant’ by her Hear to Slay co-host Roxane Gay, McMillan Cottom works her way through politics, history, sociology and culture with critical dexterity and unapologetic force. 

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, McMillan Cottom joins Aminatou Sow to discuss her work and career – including navigating academia, the publishing industry and addressing perceptions of how her work fits into various categories.

Nov 12 2019

1hr 2mins

Play

Broadside: Taking Up Space: Building the City That We Deserve

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Read more

A woman’s place in the world and right to move through it freely has always been controlled. Workplaces, our city streets, pubs and parks are not just traditionally unwelcoming, but can be dangerous and destructive. Patriarchy has, until now, dominated our public spaces, and the way that different bodies and identities are policed within them.

So how can public space be reconceived, and how can we create a city that is truly accessible? Can we break our urban environments free from Anglocentric and gendered constructs of the past? And – are we even asking the right questions?

Pictured, left to right: Jan Fran, Niki Kalms, Caroline Martin, Gala Vanting and Jax Jacki Brown — Photo: Hannah Koelmeyer

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, host Jan Fran leads a discussion with writer and sex worker advocate Gala Vanting, spoken word performer and disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival creative director and Yalukit Marnang founder Caroline Martin and Monash University design researcher and XYX Lab founding director Nicole Kalms. They talk about urban space – and, ultimately, the intellectual work we have to do before we can even begin to talk about building anything.

Nov 12 2019

1hr 1min

Play

William Dalrymple: Corporate Violence and the East India Company

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Clare Wright and William Dalrymple at the Athenaeum Theatre — Photo: Jon Tjhia

Historian William Dalrymple ­­believes the stunning greed and violence of the militarised East India Company is ‘history’s most terrifying warning’ about unregulated corporate power, and the insidious means by which shareholders exert dangerous influence on the state.

Dalrymple – co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and bestselling author of books including The Last MughalCity of Djinns and Nine Lives – examines the corporation’s ruinous legacy in his latest work, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company.

The Anarchy describes an aggressive colonial power operating under the guise of a multinational company, using a ruthless 200,000-strong private army to extort, plunder and dominate vast swathes of Central, South and Southeast Asia – answerable only to its distant investors. At a time when global media corporations and tech giants wield growing and increasingly pervasive power and influence, the story is a timely cautionary tale. 

At this event, William Dalrymple joins author Clare Wright to discuss the long reach and devastating legacy of the East India Company.

Nov 08 2019

59mins

Play

Tell Me a Story: Mem Fox on Reading Aloud

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Michael Williams and Mem Fox, in conversation at the Wheeler Centre

Mem Fox is a legend of Australian children's literature. More than 35 years after her first book, Possum Magic, was published, it is still printed in hardback, with its iconic original illustrations by Julie Vivas.

In the intervening years, Fox has somehow managed an academic career as a literacy expert, while writing 40 more books. She’s charmed generations of readers with stories of Australian children and animals, including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesBaby BedtimeWombat Divine and Where is the Green Sheep?

Through her books, Fox has also helped young readers grapple with difficult topics – perhaps most famously with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Her new book, too, broaches a difficult topic with great wisdom and sensitivity. The Tiny Star is about life and death, and it's told in an unmistakably tender and lyrical voice – the singular voice of Mem Fox – with illustrations by the award-winning Freya Blackwood. 

At this very special event hosted by Michael Williams, Fox discusses her stories and her career. She shares, too, why encouraging us all to read aloud has been such an important part of her work.

Nov 04 2019

58mins

Play

Paul Holdengräber: The Art of the Interview

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Paul Holdengräber and Sally Warhaft — Photo: Sophie Quick

What makes a great interview? What can public conversation do, and why does it matter? And how does a skilled interviewer handle the various nightmare breeds of interview subject, from The Robot to The Waffler; The Sermoniser to The Sphinx?

In this conversation, we bring together two master interlocutors – Paul Holdengräber and our own Sally Warhaft – for a meaningful dialogue about ... meaningful dialogue. Paul Holdengräber was the former curator of conversations at the New York Public Library, and is the founding executive director of the Onassis Foundation LA, a centre for dialogue in Los Angeles which is an outpost of the Onassis headquarters in Athens. Throughout his distinguished career, he's interviewed hundreds of artists, scientists and luminaries, from Salman Rushdie to Jay Z. Sally Warhaft is the Wheeler Centre's in-house news anchor and the host of the popular Fifth Estate conversation series and podcast. She's interrogated big names in Australian politics and high-profile international guests, from the late Malcolm Fraser to Masha Gessen and Ronan Farrow.  

How do you get, and keep, your subject on side? And what’s the role of discussion in today’s increasingly partisan political climate? Join Warhaft and Holdengräber as they talk career highlights, horror stories and the art and purpose of public conversation today.

Oct 31 2019

1hr 7mins

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Double Booked Club: Anna Krien and Favel Parrett

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For October’s Double Booked Club, we heard from two acclaimed Australian authors, whose new works of fiction take readers to distant corners of the globe … and back again.

Act of Grace is the first novel from celebrated journalist Anna Krien. It’s a series of interconnected narratives, featuring an Australian soldier returned from Baghdad and a young musician fleeing Saddam Hussein. It’s a highly anticipated and original book, about inheritance and trauma.

Jaclyn Crupi, Favel Parrett and Anna Krien

There Was Still Love is the thrilling new novel from Favel Parrett; one that also arrives with a high degree of anticipation. Favel is the Miles Franklin-shortlisted author of Past the Shallows and When the Night Comes. Her new book traverses Prague and Melbourne during the tumultuous 20th Century. It’s a profound and moving story about family and loyalty.

Meet two brilliant Australian writers for a fascinating conversation, hosted by Jaclyn Crupi.

#doublebookedclub

Favel Parrett and Anna Krien at the Wheeler Centre

In this Double Booked Club, we hear from two acclaimed Australian authors, whose new works of fiction take readers to distant corners of the globe … and back again.

Act of Grace is the first novel from celebrated journalist Anna Krien. It’s a series of interconnected narratives, featuring an Australian soldier returned from Baghdad and a young musician fleeing Saddam Hussein. It’s a highly anticipated and original book, about inheritance and trauma.

There Was Still Love is the thrilling new novel from Favel Parrett; one that also arrives with a high degree of anticipation. Favel is the Miles Franklin-shortlisted author of Past the Shallows and When the Night Comes. Her new book traverses Prague and Melbourne during the tumultuous 20th Century. It’s a profound and moving story about family and loyalty.

Here, these two brilliant Australian writers join Jaclyn Crupi for a fascinating lunchtime conversation.

Oct 25 2019

59mins

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Digital Futures: New Media, Storytelling and Disability

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Adolfo Aranjuez, Eliza Hull and Erin Kyan at the Wheeler Centre

‘Whatever it is that you do, think about how you can make what you do more accessible. Because I guarantee you there’s ways.’ – Erin Kyan

It’s no secret that the digital media industry has been the site of rapid and surprising change in recent decades. The market for screen content of all kinds – as well as screen-adjacent storytelling like podcasts – is hungry for fresh stories and new, authentic voices. And as platforms multiply and consolidate, the boundaries between mass market and niche have softened. 

What does this mean for marginalised voices – especially writers, creative professionals and performers with disability – who’ve traditionally been underrepresented in the media mainstream? And – how about marginalised audiences?

In this panel conversation, Adolfo Aranjuez, Eliza Hull and Erin Kyan discuss how artists with disability across the globe are engaging with the new digital order, and making entertaining and innovative work. Does the changing market offer new possibilities for access and creative expression? And how can we bring forward a future where people with disability have meaningful and lasting careers in the media arts?

Oct 25 2019

51mins

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Writing in Exile: Roza Germian

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Sami Shah and Roza Germian at the Wheeler Centre

‘As a Kurd, I was stateless until I became an Australian, and Australia is the only official home I have, because Kurdistan does not exist on a map.’

Journalist Roza Germian lived through war for most of her childhood. In 1991, when Germian was 10, she was one of more than one million Kurds who fled Saddam Hussein's Iraq following the Iraqi retaliation to the Kurdish uprising. With her family, she later found temporary refuge in Turkey, and then moved permanently to Brisbane at age 15, when her family gained humanitarian visas.

As a teenager, Germian learned English and then went on to gain two university degrees. She now works as the executive producer on SBS Radio's Kurdish programme, where her earliest experiences of terror, persecution and prejudice continue to inform her journalistic work. 

At SBS, Germian has continued to highlight stories that concern the Kurdish community here and abroad, from the ISIS conflict to Kurds held in Australia's immigration detention system. Hosted by Sami Shah, the remarkable Germian shares her story and discusses her life and work.

Oct 14 2019

59mins

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Paul West: Sustainability, Cooking and Community

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Hilary Harper and Paul West at the Wheeler Centre

Paul West – ‘Australia’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’ – is a homegrown champion in more ways than one. 

The former Vue De Monde chef, and host of River Cottage Australia, is a sustainable food advocate – and he wants to show you that you can grow and cook your own food, wherever you are, however much space you have. 

For West, growing, cooking and sharing food with your loved ones is a powerful act. ‘It’s personal, local action that empowers us when global problems can leave you feeling powerless.’

The chef, who trained in hatted restaurants, now offers practical advice on everything from building a ‘no dig’ garden, bee-keeping and knife-skills, to simple and delicious recipes for common veggies that you’ve grown yourself, and even throwing a backyard harvest festival. It’s all in his new book, The Edible Garden Cookbook & Growing Guide.

In this event, West speaks with Hilary Harper about how growing and eating locally has an impact well beyond our backyard.

Oct 14 2019

56mins

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