A leading Victoria University Indigenous Research Fellow will highlight Indigenous knowledge of climate change in his keynote address to the inaugural Australian Literary Studies Convention in Wollongong today.
Dr Tony Birch’s presentation coincides with NAIDOC Week and his commencement with Victoria University’s Moondani Balluk Centre as the first recipient of the Dr Bruce McGuinness Indigenous Research Fellowship.
The Fellowship is named for one of Victoria’s most respected Aboriginal elders and a long-time activist in the struggle for Aboriginal justice and self-determination.
Dr Birch says he is delighted to kick off his new VU Fellowship at this landmark literary convention.
“This convention draws together major Australian literary studies organisations and academics. As I start in this new role with Victoria University, it’s a welcome opportunity to honour the memory of Bruce McGuiness, and highlight Indigenous perspectives on an issue confronting everyone,” Dr Birch said.
In his address, Dr Birch will discuss the western fetish for apocalyptic fiction, climate change as a future and abstract concept, and the experiences of Indigenous communities having dealt with climate and environmental change historically and in contemporary society.
Dr Birch is the author of the books Shadowboxing, Father's Day, Blood and The Promise, for which he was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin literary award. His new novel, Ghost River, will be released in October, and his fiction and nonfiction has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies, in Australia and internationally.
The Australasian Association for Literature, Association for the Study of Australian Literature and Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association have organised the convention.
NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July to celebrate Indigenous culture.