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I am a great fan of Mark Twain both as a writer and a public speaker. Huckleberry Finn’ makes better reading for adults because we have the historical and cultural knowledge to read between the lines and feel the full impact of what Twain (through Huck) is telling us. I disagree with those who see his work as flawed because he was ‘white’. Twain’s/Clemen’s voice reveals the cruelty and degradation of slavery; we witness lynchings and segregation – and all of this through the eyes of an unschooled, unkempt, young boy who breaks most of the Ten Commandments as he makes his way along the Mississippi with Jim, the runaway slave.
Twain revealed his society like nobody else before him; he cared deeply and watched closely. His genius for language and nuance still astounds me.
This session complements the themes of the ‘Identity and Belonging’ unit, looking at 21st century Australia. Topics: The term multiculturalism: how cultural diversity defines Australian society; Previous failed policy of ‘assimilation’; ‘Multiculturalism’ in Holland, France and Germany – a different interpretation. Cultural diversity in the UK and USA The language of ‘belonging’—‘Australian values’ V. ‘unAustralian’ […]
This session complements the history unit ‘ the making of the Australian nation’ as part of the new curriculum and: (a) provides an overview of the experiences of non-Europeans in Australia prior to the 1900’s: the Japanese, Chinese, Malays, South Sea Islanders and ‘Afghans’ (b) examines factors behind the White Australia Policy and its influence […]
Right from its inception, Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (2001) has been covered in controversy. Debate continues as to whether it is a ‘good Act’ or a ‘bad Act’. Victoria’s most famous case proved a nightmare. The Islamic Council of Victoria v. Catch the Fire Ministries Inc. tested the legislation. The case was supposed […]
As a child growing up in the days when Muslim communities in Australia were small and scattered, I was puzzled at the social studies lesson taught us in primary class. My heroes were everyone else’s villains! I would return home full of questions about what I was hearing which my father patiently reinterpreted with only […]
Tensions and fault lines in Australian society are seen as an outcome of Huntington’s ‘clash of civilisations’ theory. This theory is based on a flawed attempt to understand the post-Cold War world. Commentators who use Huntington’s theory ignore the diversity of Muslim countries, from Morocco to Indonesia, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia. It’s a popular […]
A tribe of strangers lived within Australia’s gates during the years when entry was restricted to people of European ancestry at a time when race and the colour of one’s skin classified people. The men whose stories I tell (with one exception) arrived before 1901. Their contribution to Australia’s development has been overlooked for centuries. […]
An imaginary and humorous scenario where I explain my frustration with the ‘M’ word (Muslim) and how I feel trapped on a treadmill. I propose some outlandish and over the top solutions to the ‘anti-Muslim virus’. Topics: • A diagnosis of the virus • The annual hijab debate • In praise of disobedient women • […]