Welcome to Issue 51 of Australian Humanities Review.
This issue kicks off with two essays that engage with the politics of representation in Australian cultural life. Maria Nugent’s essay, ‘“Every Right to be There”: Cinema Spaces and Racial Politics in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia’, shows how Luhrmann’s recent, controversial film provides insight into the experience of watching movies in segregated cinemas. This important essay brings together analysis of racial segregation as it is represented visually in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia with the recollections of Aboriginal cinema-goers who experienced or observed segregation first-hand. In doing so, Nugent reminds us of the significance of ‘non-realist’ cinema images that can captivate audiences and at the same time represent the material conditions of cinema-watching.
While Nugent’s essay points to how relations of domination and subordination organize everyday, supposedly egalitarian, practices of cinema-going in Australia, Roger Hillman’s essay adds a transnational dimension to representations of an historical event that has become the preeminent site of national memorialisation. In ‘A Transnational Gallipoli?’, Hillman contrasts the masculinist heroics and celebratory nationalism of Peter Weir’s iconic film, Gallipoli, and Roger McDonald’s 1915, with more recent novels and films produced outside Australia’s borders that provide alternative forms of cultural memory. Louis de Bernières’ Birds Without Wings and Tolga Örnek’s documentary film Gallipoli: The Front Line Experience are significant as texts that ‘situate the Gallipoli legend in a transnational rather than a national framework, while providing a fuller understanding of how cultural memory works in relation to the national imaginary’.
This issue features a special guest-edited section, ‘“On the Table”: Food in Our Culture’. Lisa Milner has brought together essays and book reviews that engage, in various ways, with how food is produced and consumed. Topics canvassed in this section include Adrian Peace on the ethics and politics of kangaroo consumption; histories of Australian food culture, including Barbara Santich on colonial appetites for native foods, and Colin Bannerman on the quest to define a distinctive Australian food culture; Ferne Edwards on the tension between large-scale capitalist and localized non-commodified food production systems; Elspeth Probyn on the intertwinement of humans, fish and oceans; and Jemàl Nath and Desireé Prideaux on the role of ‘mock meats’ in vegetarian eating practices.
Our Ecological Humanities section continues the food theme but with a specific focus on the impact of the human/animal divide on attitudes to consumption. Included are Elizabeth Leane and Helen Tiffin’s essay on Douglas Mawson’s relationship to his sled dogs, as well as excerpts from books by Gary Steiner (on the ethics of veganism), Dominique Lestel (on the human exceptionalism implicit in vegetarianism) and Val Plumwood (on the moral dualisms surrounding meat-eating). Concluding this section is Hollis Taylor’s review of Dominique Lestel’s L’animal est l’avenir de l’homme.