Playing in the dark archive

Confronting the global legacy of slavery

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  • Published 20220428
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-71-9
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

Interviewer: Describe your aesthetic in five words.
Jasmine Togo-Brisby: Can. You. See. Us. Now?

IN JUNE 2021, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and a wave of similar Australian protests – conducted in solidarity with African Americans and to draw attention to Aboriginal deaths in police custody – Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned against ‘importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia’. Morrison conceded that Australia has ‘issues in this space’ but implied the effects of anti-Black racism in the past and present were less serious than in other nations and regions. One week later, he said during a talkback radio segment that ‘there was no slavery in Australia’. The next day, Morrison apologised for the remark, saying he misspoke and meant only when the colonies were established there was no intention for legal slavery to exist. When pressed specifically about the practice of ‘blackbirding’ – the coercion of South Sea Islanders into indentured labour on Queensland plantations – he responded: ‘There have been all sorts of hideous practices that have taken place, and so I’m not denying any of that,’ reiterating, ‘Okay? I’m not denying any of that. It’s all recorded.’ (Our italics.)

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About the author

Clare Corbould

Clare Corbould is associate professor at Deakin University, where she specialises in African American history.

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