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Issue 39 - 40, September 2006

New Urgencies

This issue presents a collection of essays evidencing new work on forms of Australian culture and history. Edited by Nicole Moore and Michelle Arrow, the essays originated in a one-day symposium on "New Urgencies in Australian Studies" held at The Mint in Sydney in 2005, hosted by Macquarie University.  Asking some pointed questions of contemporary academic and public debates, the essays variously represent particular thematics or 'urgencies' for Australia that have figured largely in the pages of Australian Humanities Review. All four essays are engaged in broadly interdisciplinary research informed by the use of feminist, postcolonial, historiographical and critical theory, differently surveying history, film, literature, print media and hybrid forms of life writing. All four also work towards forms of Australian cultural and social life beyond contemporary conditions, in which recognition, justice, freedom and responsibility would be 'national' rather than 'ideal' - an 'Australia' imagined beyond its current limits.

Target Essay

Carole Ferrier interrogates the current privileged presence of 'family' in Australian political discourse, tracing its contestation through 100 years of feminist debate and representation, and compelled to ask again: 'So, What is to be Done About the Family?'


Writing about the historical relationship of white and Indigenous women in Australia, Victoria Haskins reflects on the impasse created by the fraught question of white women's complicity and suggests some new directions in 'Beyond Complicity: Questions and issues for white women in Aboriginal history'.

Catherine Simpson uses the filmic car crash as a lens through which to consider the presence of colonial violence in white Australia's cultural landscape in 'Antipodean Automobility and Crash: Treachery, trespass, and the transformation of the open road.' 

Michele Grossman intervenes in ongoing debates about white readings of Indigenous Australian life-writing, taking up some key questions asked by those witness to institutionalisation and the ongoing impact of 'settlement', in her essay 'When they write what we read: Unsettling Indigenous Australian life-writing'.

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