Authors reclaim contemporary migrant narrative

Michael Mohammed Ahmed

Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist Michael Mohammed Ahmad

The Writing and Society Research Centre will host a set of unique sessions on Friday, November 6 to bring together writers and thinkers who have dared to step outside the boundaries and reclaim the contemporary migrant-Australian narrative.

Featuring award-winning author of The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014) Michael Mohammed Ahmad in-conversation with internationally acclaimed anthropologist Professor Ghassan Hage, the first session will explore the images and realities of the Arab-Australian narrative. 

For the last two decades the representation of Arab-Australians has been coloured by media reports of sexual assault, drug-dealing, drive-by shootings and terrorist conspiracy. This has made it difficult to understand a community which plays an important role in contemporary Australian society. 

In this discussion, Hage and Ahmad will unpack the various representations in media, politics, film and literature that have shaped our understanding of the Arab-Australian identity. Professor Greg Noble from Western Sydney University's Institute of Society and Culture will chair the session.

The second session will see Melbourne poet TT.O in a rare Sydney appearance, in conversation with critic and editor Professor Ivor Indyk. 

In the past forty years TT.O. has worked at the frontier of contemporary Australian poetry and has contributed to the development of poetry through his publishing house Collective Effort Press and the editing and publication of such magazines as Migrant 7, fitzroy and 925

Greek-Australian by background, anarchist by conviction, his poems dramatised the voices and gestures of the working class of inner city Melbourne, and marked the migrant presence in Australian poetry for the first time.

Writer and panellist Michael Mohammed Ahmad says the event is a timely reminder of the importance of challenging powerful narratives.

"It's becoming more and more urgent that we begin to recognise the active role that literature and creative thought play in transforming people's views," he says.

"This event will celebrate the contribution of writers and thinkers from diverse backgrounds at a time when xenophobia and Islamophobia seem higher than ever."

'Radical Literature' is a free event hosted by Western Sydney University's Writing and Society Research Centre and will include a complimentary lunch.


29 October 2015

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer

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