Keynote Speakers

ASAL Barry Andrews Keynote

Nardi Simpson, Yuwaalaraay musician and writer

Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay storyteller from the NSW north west freshwater plains. A musician, composer and playwright, Nardi is the author of Song of the Crocodile published by Hachette Australia in October 2020. Song of the Crocodile was the 2018 winner of the black&write Fellowship shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writing category. Nardi is currently undertaking a PhD in composition at ANU researching the traditions of song and story in her beloved Yuwaalaraay homelands.

ASAL ECR Keynote

Dr Emily Zong, Hong Kong Baptist University

Toward Refugee Thick Mobility: More-than-Human Emergence at Oceanic Borderlands

In this talk, I will consider literary imaginations of refugee ecology across Australia’s oceanic borderlands in the context of extinction. Public policy and media tends to totalize asylum seekers into abstract figures of security threat, faceless mass, or humanitarian rescue. While dominant bio-and-necropolitical frameworks offer important insights into studying hierarchies of life and human to counter sovereign erasure, such approaches also reinforce anthropocentric structures of life, foreclosing ecological modes of refugee political mobility.

In response, I suggest a framework of refugee thick mobility can account for entangled, contingent, and more-than-human emergence. Recent refugee literature and cinema invite ways of reading displaced humans and nonhumans together, illuminating the overlap of oceanic ecologies, species migration, extractive capitalism, and biopolitical geographies. Through more-than-human crossings, a bioregional and eco-social account reimagines oceanic borderlands as emergent sites of body-place encounters against the territorial claims and telos of sovereign Australia.

Emily Yu Zong is an assistant professor at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University. Her work intersects migrant and refugee writing and the environmental humanities and has appeared in Critique, ARIEL, ISLE, LIT, JASAL, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Journal of Intercultural Studies, The Cambridge History of the Australian Novel, among other venues.

ASAL Dorothy Green Keynote

Associate Professor Mandy Treagus, University of Adelaide

Recentering water: fluvial poetics in recent writing

How might we think of water as region? What might thinking with specific waters, and particular watery forms, bring to our understandings of how literature comes to mean? Taking cues from recent work in both the Blue Humanities – inspired by Pacific scholars – and the posthumanities, this paper will consider examples of recent writing in order to explore what is revealed when focus shifts to the aqueous. What ‘transversal alliances’ (Braidotti) and concomitant limitations are highlighted in writings and readings that take account of water? Using methodologies employing ‘blue focalizations’ (Samuelson), I will think with writings by John Kinsella, Natalie Harkin, Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko, and Christos Tsiolkas, exploring aspects of ‘hydrocolonialisms’ (Hofmeyr) and immersive ontologies. While all waters are revealed to be operating within the multiple restrictions of the nation state together with anthropogenic climate emergency, a focus on waters reveals possibilities of renewal as well as human and more-than-human connections. Taking this beyond the island continent to trans-Pacific links, I will consider the ways such connections are joyfully celebrated in Lisa Reihana’s indigifuturist video work Groundloop.

Mandy Treagus is of Welsh, Scottish and Cornish descent, and lives on the unceded lands of the Peramangk and Kaurna peoples in South Australia. She is Associate Professor in English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide, where she teaches literature, culture, and visual studies, with interests in critical race and whiteness, gender and sexuality. She researches Pacific, Victorian and Australian literature and culture and her publications include Empire Girls: The Colonial Heroine Comes of Age, and the co-edited collections Changing the Victorian Subject and Anglo-American Imperialism and the Pacific: Discourses of Encounter.

ASLEC-ANZ Plenary Roundtable

Uncertainty’s Place: The Ambiguous Regions of Environmental Arts and Culture

Connecting scholarly and creative work to place is an established approach to environmental arts, criticism and activism. In the context of Recentring the Region, the ASLEC-ANZ conference team has curated a plenary roundtable to explore how a sense of place overlaps with and/or diverges from our activist affiliations and our creative and critical practices. In this zone of possible synergy and likely friction, we can be certain of uncertainty. And from this place, we invite reflection on the role of open-ended forms of cultural practice today: poetry, literature, performance, visual arts and critical reading and interpretation. In what ways does art, literature and critique rupture the ways we seek to assert, simplify or silo what is urgent environmental thought and action today?

Does the global rise of fascisms (including eco-fascism/nationalisms, and even fascist feminisms) to take one striking example, connect with localised responses to climate change, if so how? If not, how can we better understand both their friction and concomitance? (How) can we open to the pleasures, impracticalities and ambiguities of art and critique in a time of such widespread uncertainty?


Elena Gomez (Poet & PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne)

Anna Liebzeit (Co-founder of IndigiLearn & Independent Artist)

Dr Hannah McCann (ARC DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Astrida Neimanis (The FEELed Lab, University of British Columbia, Okanagan)

Dr Sue Reid (University of Sydney)

Moderator: Jennifer Hamilton (President, ASLEC-ANZ)