Articles on Friday essay

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Government MPs raise their hands in response to a question from Scott Morrison: our PM emulates a Pentecostal preacher, engaging in the call and response that features in that tradition. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Friday essay: what do we want to be when we grow up?

We need a new national narrative, for reasons of diplomacy, trade and social cohesion and to grapple with many global challenges. The humanities and social sciences will be vital in shaping it.
Vincent Copley senior and Vincent Copley junior at Redbanks Conservation Park, Burra, in June, 2018. They are holding Ngadjuri book, with their grandfather and great-grandfather, Barney Waria, on the cover. Photo: C.J. Taylor, Flinders University.

Friday essay: who owns a family’s story? Why it’s time to lift the Berndt field notes embargo

In the 1940s, the last initiated Ngadjuri man, Barney Waria, gave a series of interviews to anthropologist Ronald Berndt. Almost 80 years later, Waria's grandson wants to share this material with his family.
S.T. Gill, Kangaroo Hunting, The Death, from his Australian Sketchbook (1865). Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia in the 1830s and 1840s. National Library of Australia

Friday essay: the art of the colonial kangaroo hunt

In the mid 19th century, kangaroo hunting was a sport. Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia and everyone from Charles Darwin to Anthony Trollope tried their hand at shooting roos.
Food can serve many functions in crime fiction, from being used directly as a weapon to expressing cultural belonging, gender or class. from www.shutterstock.com

Friday essay: the meaning of food in crime fiction

Food is an increasingly popular ingredient in crime fiction, serving up insights into the character of the detective hero and adding spice to the mystery.
Peter Coleman-Wright and Merlyn Quaife during a dress rehearsal of Bliss in 2010: it is one of few important local operas over the past three decades to have been staged a second time. Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Friday essay: where is the Great Australian Opera?

Australian operas have been written about many pressing topics - from the Stolen Generations to the Lindy Chamberlain case - but few have been staged a second time. What is going wrong?
Detail from Little Big Woman: Condescension, Debra Keenahan, 2017. Designed and made by Debra Keenahan, Photograph by Robert Brindley., Author provided (No reuse)

Essays On Air: The female dwarf, disability, and beauty

The female dwarf, disability, and beauty. The Conversation, CC BY23.2 MB (download)
For centuries, women with dwarfism were depicted in art as comic or grotesque fairytale beings. But artists are challenging these portrayals and notions of beauty and physical difference.
Detail from Julie Shiels’ 1954 poster White on black: The annihilation of Aboriginal people and their culture cannot be separated from the destruction of nature. State Library of Victoria

Friday essay: the ‘great Australian silence’ 50 years on

It is 50 years since anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner gave the Boyer Lectures in which he coined the phrase 'the great Australian silence'. How far have we come since?
Guy Pearce as the Chandleresque private investigator Jack Irish: in the early years of Australian crime fiction, convicts and bushrangers featured prominently. Lachlan Moore

Friday essay: from convicts to contemporary convictions – 200 years of Australian crime fiction

Australia's rich tradition of crime fiction is little known – early tales told of bushrangers and convicts, one hero was a mining engineer turned amateur detective – but it reveals a range of national myths and fantasies.
A curry-themed shoulder bag: ‘Curry’ is a word that no self-respecting subcontinental would own without a thousand caveats attached. shutterstock

Friday essay: the politics of curry

Whether being called 'curry munchers' or pigeonholed as authorities on a dish largely invented by the British, diasporic South Asians are emulsified in a deep pool of curry.
Australia’s romantic attitude to farming has done untold damage to the land. Shutterstock.com

Friday essay: Dark Emu and the blindness of Australian agriculture

The powerful ideological connection between Australia and agriculture is being increasingly scrutinised. A spate of recent books have recast basic assumptions about our relationship to the land.
Surrounded by Angels, by Carl Schweninger der Jungere, 1912. Wikimedia Commons

Friday essay: what might heaven be like?

Notions of heaven have changed through the ages, from an eternity centred on God to a more secular place where loved ones will reunite.
The courts are, or can be, theatres of remorse. Shutterstock

Friday essay: how do you measure remorse?

In many legal jurisdictions of the world, including Australia, an offender’s remorse is a mitigating factor at sentencing. And yet how judges evaluate such expressions is unclear.
A sculpture of William Ricketts looms over those of Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara men at the sanctuary in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges. Chris Haych/flickr

Friday essay: William Ricketts Sanctuary is a racist anachronism but can it foster empathy?

A mossy sanctuary in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges houses 92 sculptures, mostly of Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara men, women and children. They are steeped in primitivism, yet the park is a popular tourist attraction.
Australian pulp fiction: these works can be read as a symptom, laying bare the unspoken fears, desires, dreams and nightmares of the time. Author provided

Friday essay: the complex, contradictory pleasures of pulp fiction

Mid-20th century pulp fiction was trashy, tasteless, exploitative and lurid. There’s a lot there to love. You might read pulp as a cultural Freudian slip, loony bulletins from the collective Id.

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