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Senor Pilich

This is the saga of Senor Pilich and how he saved the monastery. Senor Pilich, monastery cat extraordinaire, is struck by the sinister Mr Dreggs. Struck by his boot, that is. 'Mr Dreggs, a thief, was at large in the monastery. He was a confidence man. He was overly interested in valuable and historic things. He looked suspicious, acted suspiciously and, above all evils, he did not like cats. Dreggs was a positive threat to the place. He had to go.' Señor Pilich and his friends foil  Dreggs at every turn in a hilarious adventure which causes mayhem throughout the monastery. Meanwhile, monastic ...
Wednesday, 23rd July 2014
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API Review of Books

Altitude BirdIssue 44
Features reviews by Kathleen Broderick, Linn Miller, Christine Choo, Bill Thorpe, David Ritter, Eve Vincent, Stephanie Bishop, Alison Miles, Richard Kay, Amanda Day, Bernard Whimpress, Mads Clausen, Marion May Campbell, Sylvia Alston, Catie Gilchrist, Eva Chapman, Lucy Dougan, Stephen Lawrence and Nathanael O'Reilly. Click here for more details.


Altitude BirdPopular Music: Practices, Formations and Change - Australian Perspectives
The papers collected here in this special edition of Altitude offer a brief snapshot of popular music research broadly connected with Australia. The essays demonstrate the variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used by researchers in the fields of popular music studies and cultural studies to explore themes of popular music practice, formation and change in an Australian context. Click here for more details.


Sharing Spaces: Indigenous and non-Indigenous Responses to Story, Country and Rights

By Gus Worby And Lester-Irabinna Rigney, Bentley: API Network, 2006, 488 pages, paperback, $50.00. Reviewed by Linn Miller in the July 2006 issue.

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In regard to sharing stories, spaces and belongings, accounts we are accustomed to hearing in Australia--or want to hear--are often misleadingly simple and one-sided. Sharing Spaces not only succeeds in disclosing and exploring the ground--conceptual, geographical, socio-cultural and political--that connects people to place, past to present and indigenous to settler-Australians, it also acknowledges the complexity of the issues it tackles and respects the multiplicity of their phenomenal expression. Most refreshingly, where and when differing perspectives and understandings exist, and are recognized, they are integrated into the whole, with boundaries between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ways of seeing, knowing and enacting serving to unite rather than divide.

The often equivocal nature and expression of both social and geographical emplacement (and therefore, attitudes toward co-inhabitation and reconciliation) is also evident in the way that Worby and Lester have collated this volume. These themes and approaches are presented in complex structural form consisting of a series of 'Touchstone Pieces', 'Conversations' and 'Parts'. The four 'Touchstone Pieces', all of which have single authors and are derived from keynote or public lectures, are designed to offer 'generic insights into the more detailed and specific approaches...of other contributors' (3). These closer readings of specific issues are located in the three 'Parts', which comprise of 'scatters of articles' (2) assembled under the headings 'Stories', 'Country' and 'Rights'. Introductions to the 'Parts' are proposed to harmonise the distinctive voices heard within, as well as to position and connect the voices of those principal performers who speak out in both the 'Touchstone Pieces' and the 'Conversations'. By prefacing the essay collections with these 'conversations' with elders representing Kaurna, Ngarrindgeri and Antikirinya/Yankunytjatjara communities, the particular (and shared) interests and insights of these distinguished Indigenous Australians are foregrounded, while at the same time their observations and reading of the issues is intended to bring matters of common concern to all contributors into sharper relief.

One of the most engaging contributions is that which begins the volume, Ross Gibson's 'Touchstone', 'Skerrick Scenes'. Here the conceptual device is juxtaposition between notions of space and place. For Gibson, 'place is a shared custodial scene', intimately connected to 'personal and/or communal awareness', while 'space' is 'a neutral entity awaiting significance and value' (9). It is Gibson's thesis that colonisation 'took place' -- that is to say, places in country, evacuated of meaning and integrity, became 'spaces' re-inscribed as 'property' or 'territory' belonging to settler-Australians (9). The consequences of such ontological manipulation, Gibson suggests, is manifest in the failure of places and localities/spaces seized by colonial incursions, to retain identity and integrity and to stay vital and healthy.

Gibson seeks to reverse this process--to re-enchant seized spaces and 're-place' them by 'a kind of divination' (12)--reanimating and reconnecting those constituents of places (and people) that belong to them, but that have been masked by time or circumstance. Here memory, narrative, and engagement play vital roles, and signify, for Gibson, an enactment of both alteration and becoming. His strategy of re-'placing' spaces by re-animating the 'skerricks' of their former lives, more than any other explicitly articulated in the text, sums up what this volume seeks to achieve. Indeed, the collection is replete with divination of this kind.

The message conveyed by Justice Marcus Einfield in the second 'Touchstone' is both solemn and urgent. If we are to rediscover our nation's soul, we must re-examine our own. Here, Einfield provides a timely and poignant reminder that 'sharing space' demands an active commitment to equality, fairness, justice and self-determination for all people who call this country home. This moral imperative is brought to bear on the connection between Aboriginal rights and economic development and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in higher education in subsequent 'Touchstones' by Larissa Behrendt and Tracy Bunda respectively.

Apart from these pieces, there are twenty other separate contributions to this volume, each in their own way, serving to define its tone and texture. They are far too many to discuss individually, however, a few stand out. In 'Stories' Ali Gumillya Baker explores folds of paper, skin and memory as 'spaces of translation'. Linda Westphalen makes these same spaces speak in her piece concerning indigenous life histories and Dreaming, illuminating the porous borders between subjectivity and country, while Clare Johnson in her investigation of Tracks provides a critical analysis of place and person as sites of being where spatial and temporal ontologies meet, relate and/or collide.

In 'Country' Alexander Reilly analyses the relationship between cartography and Native- Title and the implications of committing 'land to paper' (257). Penelope Hall studies the politics of radicalised space in colonial settler Melbourne, focusing on how the 'micro-geography of human interactions' (174) acts to reveal 'space-as-process'. Belongings to 'shared space' is further problematised by Tracey Spencer in her account of the life of Rebecca Forbes, who after marrying Jacky Wichetty in 1914 was reported to be 'the only white woman [known of] to have gone completely native' (217). Interestingly, Rebecca considered herself instead to be 'the only real white Australia there [was]' (224).

Spencer is not the only one to bring into focus the problematic positioning of white Australians in Aboriginal spaces. In 'Rights' Steve Hemmings argues in true Foucaultian style that 'Aboriginal heritage is a form of governmentality at the forefront of a new colonisation of indigenous space' (306), while Sue Anderson and Ribnga Green tackle the issue of protecting Indigenous intellectual property. In the same section Gus Worby, Lester-Irabinna Rigney and Simone Ulalka Tur, explore educational spaces as landscapes in which to reconcile.

Sharing Spaces represents a complex web of accounts told by and through an eclectic range of voices, providing a space in which they can meet and enter into dialogue--a space where notions and occurrences of 'tolerance', 'unity', 'contact' and 'achievement' (1) as they pertain to both historical and contemporary geo-cultural landscapes can be re-visited and re-considered. In this regard it does a remarkable job.

Nevertheless, while initially excited and intrigued by the volume's innovative configuration, after delving more deeply into the text, I found myself increasingly disappointed, not by its content, but by its structural form and logic. For example, Worby's 'General Introduction' acts in a number of ways to obscure, rather than elucidate what follows. This piece (along with the Introductions to the subsequent 'Parts') is unnecessarily dense and self-consciously clever in its attempt to bind together the threads from which the volume is woven and thus to justify their belonging. As a result it is less than effective in conveying the relevance of the ideas and insights that are articulated in individual contributions and shared throughout the collection. It is these ideas and insights, worthwhile both in their own right as well as in concert, that nourish and sustain the volume and its promise to open up a shared space of self-renewal and home-coming (for country and people alike). With this objective in mind, Sharing Spaces is a midden well-worth sifting through.


  • Linn Miller. 'Review: Sharing Spaces: Indigenous and non-Indigenous Responses to Story, Country and Rights by Gus Worby and Lester-Irabinna Rigney' [online]. Network Review of Books (Perth, Australian Public Intellectual Network), July 2006. Availability: <please cite the web address here> ISSN 1833-0932. [accessed 23 July 2014].

Back Cover Blurb

  • This broad-ranging, interrelated collection of conversations and essays by Elders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars addresses a range of contemporary issues including the politics of sharing space derived from a colonial history of non-sharing, the relationship between the stories Australians tell themselves about their place in the world as peoples and nation, the differing concepts of country and knowledge that give stories their context and meaning and the way this combination of grounded narratives animates and informs rights discourse -- in Australia and beyond. In this matrix of ideas and analyses, literature and history meet economics, visual art and film intersect with heritage discourses and cultural geography, multi-layered maps of space, place and time position the law and community meets the academy. All of these approaches converge in the vulnerable, vital and contested space called 'education'. Sharing Spaces values the many-faceted acts of making, shaping and inhabiting social, cultural and intellectual space through talking, sharing, collaboration, advocacy and critical analysis.

    Stephen Alomes, Sue Anderson, Ali Gumillya Baker, Bronwyn Batten, Larissa Behrendt, Tracey Bunda, Eileen Cummings, Penelope Edmonds, Justice Marcus Einfeld, Catriona Elder, Cath Ellis, Don Fuller, Mary-Anne Gale, Ross Gibson, Ribnga Green, Kate Hall, Steve Hemming, Rick Hosking, Lyn Jacobs, Clare Johnson, Lorraine Johnson-Riordan, Kauwanu Lewis Warritya O'Brien, Angela Pratt, Alexander Reilly, Lester-Irabinna Rigney, Tracy Spencer, Bill Thorpe, Tom Trevorrow, Ngitji Ngitji Mona Tur, Simone Ulalka Tur, Linda Westphalen and Gus Worby.

Have You Also Read?

  • Down the Road: Exploring Backpacker and Independent Travel

    imageBrad West ed, Perth: API Network, 2005, 192 Pages, Paperback, $24.95
    Reviewed by Lisette Kaleveld in the July 2005 issue.

    Backpacking sees itself existing outside the frame, even outside the frame of tourism. The community of backpackers is a critical and reflexive population whose need for unique and authentic experiences lead to the very corners of the travel industry, lingering at the edges of the tracks and searching for secrets in the lands they explore. I was interested to see if this romantic framework stood the test of the academic gaze. Down the Road is a book of 8 academic articles about backpacking. The idea of sacred pilgrimage, (the seeker, the escapist) the uses of technology, backpacking and identity constellations, the shape of international travel friendships and communities, and the ... read more.

Network Review of Books

API Network

  • Dedicated to the 'democratisation of knowledge', the API Network is a free electronic gateway specialising on matters Australia. Managed and produced by the Australia Research Institute, the Division of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, it links public intellectuals through its publications, mailing list, online Forum, chat room and regular posting of news relating to book, journal and ezine publications, conferences, events, tours and funding opportunities in the field of Australian Studies.

NRB July 2006

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