I’m delighted to introduce our new season of Imagining the Past podcasts. Over the coming weeks, our host, Greg Johnston, will present recordings of live sessions from the HNSA 2019 conference program. It will be a treat for those who couldn’t attend our conference at Western Sydney University in October last year. It’s also a chance for HNSA 2019 attendees to catch up on the sessions they missed because they couldn’t be in two rooms at once!
Our first podcast features a panel discussion which will strike a chord given the current examination of Australia’s colonial past and the erasure of Indigenous history. I personally found this session to be both moving and insightful.
Elisabeth Storrs, Chair, HNSA
Dispossession and Betrayal: Recovering the Erased History of First Nations
The frontier wars, Acts of Protection and Assimilation, and kidnapping of the Stolen Generations are episodes in Australian history which have been erased or minimised. Many Australians still remain ignorant while ‘official’ white accounts taught in our schools have yet to fully address such events. Indigenous writers Madison Shakespeare and Lisa Chaplin discuss with Dr Paula Morris why Aboriginal history has been suppressed, what is needed to remedy the omission, and how historical fiction can play a role in ensuring past injustices and cruelties aren’t forgotten or repeated.
About our speakers
Paula Morris (Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whatua) is the author of the story collection Forbidden Cities (2008); the long-form essay On Coming Home (2015); and eight novels, including Rangatira (2011), winner of best work of fiction at both the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards and Ngā Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards. Her most recent book is False River (2017), a collection of stories and essays around the subject of secret histories. She teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland, sits on the Māori Literature Trust, Mātātuhi Foundation, and New Zealand Book Awards Trust, and is the founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature. Appointed an MZNM in the 2019 New Year Honours, she currently holds the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. Paula was our keynote speaker for the 2019 conference.
Lisa Chaplin is a born and bred Sydneysider with Indigenous heritage, who spent four years in beautiful Zurich, Switzerland, gathering ideas for novels around Europe before returning to her native soil. Writing under the pseudonym, Melissa James, she tackles stories about the Stolen Generation, PTSD, and families with challenges. Her latest Melissa James’ novel is Beneath The Skin, a women’s fiction crime novel, with Aboriginal major and minor characters is being released in the US by MIRA HarperCollins in January 2020.
After writing 20 books, novellas and online reads for giant Harlequin that sold over 1.65 million books worldwide, she quit to concentrate on historical fiction. Her first historical fiction, The Tide Watchers, was based on a true story. In 2014 the book sold to William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins New York, and to six countries around the world. She’s currently working on the sequel, Blind Fall, as well as a YA sci-fi time-travel (from 2069 San Francisco to Lyon, France, during the Terror), and a historical post-WWI fiction for MIRA Australia.
Madison Shakespeare is an Indigenous artist, filmmaker, poet, novelist and accomplished musician who has performed nationally and internationally. As a lecturer of the Indigenous Units for the Indigenous Major Degree for the Humanities and Communication Arts faculty at Western Sydney University, she has had a diverse career as educational mentor, teacher and consultant for students, teachers and executive staff in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary arenas. As the Director of her multi-jurisdictional mobile law firm for over a decade, she provided legal advice to many First Nations clients in inner city Sydney, regional and remote areas. As a National mediator she has experience in commercial, civil, Native Title and Family Law matters.
Identifying proudly as a Gadigal salt water woman Madison seeks, through diverse pedagogical approaches founded on many traditional lore practices and beliefs, to ensure she lives her life as a Custodian of Country where education founded on creative, open-teaching and learning forums provides contextually meaningful ways to understand and address the impact of Colonisation in Australia.
G.S. Johnston is the author of three historical novels – Sweet Bitter Cane (2019), The Cast of a Hand (2015), and The Skin of Water (2012), and a fourth novel set in contemporary Hong Kong, Consumption (2011). The novels are noted for their complex characters and well-researched settings. After completing a degree in pharmacy, a year in Italy re-ignited his passion for writing and he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. Feeling the need for a broader canvas, he started writing short stories and novels. Originally from Hobart, Tasmania, Johnston currently lives in Canberra, Australia.