Australia, the oldest continental landmass on Earth, has had a relatively stable geographical history and, situated in the middle of a tectonic plate, it currently has no active volcanism. However the advent of colonisation led to massive upheavals in Australia’s extant cultures, history and environment. Prior to this, Indigenous peoples too dramatically impacted the environment.
Two hundred and thirty years later, these ruptures are being experienced more intensely than ever. Politics has seen the rise of populism; climate change is destabilising human and non-human populations; and discrimination remains entrenched despite feminism, social justice, and human rights movements and legislation. Technology has disrupted the traditional media landscape while creating new global networks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have survived enormous hardship and displacement, yet respond strategically to assert a national voice, to call for agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and to insist on truth-telling about history.
These timely issues create a sense of urgency, a need to make sense of and to react in intelligent and creative ways. While this is a time of great unsettlement, it is also an opportunity: as scholars, we have the capacity to interrogate, contextualise and disseminate innovative responses to these issues. The 2018 InASA conference, Unsettling Australia, seeks to create an environment in which ideas and answers can be articulated, discussed and debated.