Catherine Stewart has had an interesting life, but the telling of it is not so interesting. The book conveyed very little of Catherine’s motivations or philosophy – which is surely what you most want to read about, when a person has made the decision to raise a family in such a remote area: in the early 1990s Catherine moved in with her new partner, Robert Long, who was already living in a shack at the mouth of Gorge River in south west New Zealand that is only accessible by air, or a 2 day walk.
In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer imagines a violent, chaotic end to South Africa’s apartheid system: all-out war between black and white, with other nations getting involved (like Russia, Cuba, the US), mainly to support their own self-interest. Continue reading →
Imagine my surprise when the last book I read in 2015, hard science fiction about interplanetary colonisation by British author Stephen Baxter, inadvertently slotted itself into the Indigenous Reading Challenge I set myself earlier in the year.
The book – Proxima – is not a perfect fit with the challenge because it is not by an Indigenous author, but one of the main characters is Aboriginal Australian.
As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed imagining that the ground beneath my feet is inhabited by tiny beings. These fantasies were — and are — especially strong when I explore rock platforms.
Long before I knew what it was like to look down at the world from a plane, I liked the feeling that I had a birdseye view of landscapes that were home to miniature civilisations perched on craggy cliffs overlooking vast waterways, or huddled in oases among rocky wastelands. Continue reading →
Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Hadji Murad. I now know that he was a Chechen leader in the mid 19th century, during a period when the Russians, under Tsar Nicholas I, were expanding their empire into the Caucasus.
Hadji Murad (or Murat) surrendered to the Russians in 1851 in the hope that they would help him gain ascendance over another Chechen leader: his former ally and current enemy Shamil (who was holding his family hostage). When the Russian army failed to rescue his family, Hadji Murad escaped from house arrest in a desperate effort to do it himself. Continue reading →
In her Boyer Lectures, Marcia Langton points out that many white Australians haven’t really got to grips with the reality that Aboriginal people can be middle class. Instead they cling to a particular stereotype of Australia’s Indigenous population: very dark skinned, very poor and in need of help, either living isolated from modern society in remote areas, or begging on urban streets.
It’s a convenient stereotype, because it enables non-Aboriginal Australians to continue acting in racist and paternalistic ways towards Indigenous people, including denying them the right to self-determination and identity. Continue reading →