Willie Brim and Zennith, Mantaka family home

Bla(c)kness in Australia

Celebrate the launch of the special issue of the magazine Transition on "Bla(c)kness in Australia". The collection brings together the voices and artwork of diverse Bla(c)k writers, artists, poets, and scholars in Australia.

During the 1960s and 1970s with the influence of global Black cultural flows, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as other groups such as African-Australians, African migrants, South Sea Islanders, and Pacific Islanders began to refer to themselves as Black. Since the early 1990s, the alternative term Blak has been used by Aboriginal people to define their own unique histories against limiting phenotypical and romanticized conceptions of Blackness. 

In the latest issue of Transition magazine, the particular spelling of Bla(c)k is used to be inclusive of the distinct experiences and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and Afro-descendant peoples. Bringing together these voices, the issue shows the expansiveness of what it means to be Bla(c)k and highlights the complexity of projects of Bla(c)k solidarity in this settler colonial nation.

This event was held at University of Sydney on Tuesday 7 August 2018. 


  • Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from southwest New South Wales. Her first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: A.D. 1887-1961 (2010, Presspress) won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry, 2010 and her first novel, Purple Threads (UQP), won the David Unaipon Award for an unpublished Indigenous writer in 2010. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, writing otherness and creative non-fiction; and is the recipient of an Australia Research Council Grant on Aboriginal literature. In 2017, Jeanine was the recipient of the Oodgeroo Noonucal Poetry Prize and the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize. She teaches Creative Writing and Aboriginal Literature at the University of Melbourne. The manuscript for her second volume of poetry, Walk Back Over was released in 2018 by Cordite Press.

  • Kaiya Aboagye is a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney. Her research highlights the trans-cultural connections between Indigenous Australia and the global African Diaspora. She would like to thank and acknowledge Wilo Muwauda (Kalkatunga Nation, Allawarra of the Eastern Arrernte) for the many philosophical discussions on indigeneity and blackness which contributed to her article “Australian Blackness.”

  • Yadira Perez Hazel is a Cultural Anthropologist born in Atlantic City, NJ and raised in the South Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. Dr. Perez Hazel's work pushes to uncover the insidious practices & structures of white privilege. She has published on issues of national and racial identity, migration, and belonging and has worked with non-profits and arts institutions on developing and conducting effective community-based research. Dr. Perez Hazel is currently an Honorary Fellow at Melbourne University working on contemporary articulations of Blak/Black Identity in Australia and its connection to community-building and resistance.

  • Omid Tofighian is a lecturer, researcher and community advocate. His current roles include Assistant Professor in Philosophy, American University in Cairo; Honorary Research Associate for the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney; faculty at Iran Academia; and campaign manager for Why Is My Curriculum White? - Australasia. He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with refugees, migrants and youth. He is author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues(Palgrave Macmillan 2016) and translator of Behhouz Boochani's book No Friend But The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Pan Macmillan-Picador 2018).

  • Sujatha Fernandes (moderator) is a Professor of Political Economy and Sociology at the University of Sydney. Her work explores social movements, global blackness, and cultural politics in the Americas and Australia. Her books include Cuba Represent! (2006), Who Can Stop the Drums? (2010), and most recently Curated Stories: The Uses and Misuses of Storytelling (2017). Her literary work includes a memoir on global hip hop, Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation (2011), as well as essays and short stories published in the New York TimesThe NationAster(ix), and elsewhere.

Image (at top): Willie Brim and Zennith, Mantaka family home

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