Deathscapes Symposium and Website Launch in Sydney


Registrations for the  symposium and launch are at capacity, but you can  get on the waiting list via Eventbrite.

The deaths of Indigenous people in custody and the deaths of refugees at the border and in detention centres are connected by shared colonial histories, and by structures of sovereignty. Across the settler states of Australia, Canada and the U.S–as well as in the UK and the EU as their places of origin–the Deathscapes project analyses and documents the deaths of racialised groups in prisons, police cells and in on-shore and offshore detention camps.

On 16 February 2019 we will be launching the Deathscapes website and holding a one-day symposium at The Settlement. Come and hear a brilliant cast of artists, journalists, academics and activists at the Sydney launch of the Deathscapes site.

We acknowledge that this event will take place on the land of the Gadigal people and we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Speaker BIOS:

Safdar Ahmed is a Sydney-based artist, academic and community art worker. He is author of the Walkley Award-winning documentary web-comic Villawood: Notes from an immigration detention centre, and a founding member of the non-profit community art organisation, Refugee Art Project, for which he conducts regular workshops with asylum seekers and refugees in Western Sydney.  

Behrouz Boochani (via video) graduated from Tarbiat Moallem University and Tarbiat Modares University, both in Tehran; he holds a Masters degree in political science, political geography and geopolitics. He is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate, filmmaker and human rights defender currently incarcerated by the Australian government on the Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). Boochani is co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time; collaborator on Nazanin Sahamizadeh’s play Manus; and author of No Friend but The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Pan Macmillan-Picador 2018), the winner of the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature and the Prize for Non-Fiction. He has been the recipient of multiple awards including the Anna Politkovskaya investigative journalism award and the Amnesty International Award for Writing for his work in documenting Australia’s offshore detention regime.

Bronwyn Carlson is a Professor of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University. Bronwyn is an Aboriginal woman who was born on and lives on D’harawal Country in NSW.  She was the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Stanner Award administered by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies for her PhD thesis.  Bronwyn was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous grant in 2013 for research on Aboriginal identity and community online, and has since received a second ARC in 2016 for her research on Indigenous help-seeking on social media.  Bronwyn is the author of the book, The politics of identity: who counts as Aboriginal today? which includes a chapter on Aboriginal identity and community online on social media.  

Dr. Maria Giannacopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Socio-Legal Studies and Postgraduate Director for Law and Criminology in the College of Business Government and Law at Flinders University. She has a law and cultural theory background and conducts interdisciplinary research in the areas of sovereignty, colonialism and borders politics. She is currently writing a book for Palgrave titled Sovereign Debt, Austerity and the Endurance of Colonialism. She has written for The Conversation and for ABC Online on questions of race, law and colonialism.

Dr Hannah McGlade is the Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at Curtin University and an active member of the Perth Noongar community. Her book Our Greatest Challenge, Aboriginal children and human rights was based on her Ph.D at Curtin university, and she received the Stanner Award in 2011. Hannah has been at the forefront of the development of several key organisations in Perth and WA, in relation to Aboriginal women legal supports, Noongar radio and Stolen Generations and healing. She was the 2016 Senior Indigenous Fellow of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Dr. Ryan Presley (keynote) was born in 1987 in Alice Springs, and currently lives and works in Brisbane. His father’s family is Marri Ngarr and originate from the Moyle River region in the Northern Territory. His mother’s family were Scandinavian immigrants to Australia. Presley’s work has been included in Just Not AustralianArtspace (2019), Trade Markings (Frontier Imaginaries Ed No. 5), Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2018); the 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Darwin;  TarraWarra Biennial: Endless Circulation (both 2016). His work is held in public collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Queensland Art Museum, Murdoch University, and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. Presley completed a PhD at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, in 2016. His current project, “Prosperity: An In-Depth Analysis of the Blood Money Series” is supported by the Griffith University’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme. His solo exhibition Ryan Presley: Prosperity was held at the Institute of Modern Art in 2018.

Saba Vasefi is a multi-award winning artist, journalist, filmmaker and poet. She writes for The Guardian on the narratives of displacement and imprisoned women and children on Nauru. She is researching her PhD on Exilic Feminist Cinema Studies and teaching at Macquarie University. Her latest piece focused on the prison letters of women on Nauru has been published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Alison Whittaker (via video) is a Gomeroi poet and research fellow at the Jumbunna Institute. She was a 2017-18 Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School, where she was named Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law and developed a forthcoming monograph on Australian justice system responses to Indigenous deaths in custody. Her most recent book, BLAKWORK, was released with Magabala Books in 2018.

Flyer image credits (left to right):

Aunty Carol Roe outside Perth Coroner’s Court, Whadjuk Noongar Country (Perth), 2015. Photo: Charandev Singh. 19 July painting by woman detained on Nauru, 2017. Darren Turner, a member of the Gunditjmara nation, marching at the ‘SOS Manus Prison – End the Siege #SanctionAustralia’ Protest, Naarm, 2017. Photo: Charandev Singh. 

Villawood Fence, Refugee Art Project Surviving Detention Series, Villawood NSW. Artist: ‘J’. Welcome to Aboriginal Land Passport Ceremony, The Settlement, Gadigal Country (Sydney), 2012. Photo: Charandev Singh. Peaceful protests, Manus Island camp, Lombrum, November 2017. Photos published on the @ManusAlert Telegram Channel. 

Banner in memory of David Dungay, Gadigal Country (Sydney), 2018. Artwork by Simone Pash. Hands off Aboriginal kids protest, Naarm (Melbourne), 2016. Photo: Charandev Singh. Terror Island Wish You Were Here. Artwork: Ryan Presley. 

Black Lives Matter / Say Their Names Protest, Whadjuk Nyoongar Country (Perth), 2016. Photo: Marziya Mohammedali. Protest on Nauru, 2016. Some people who arrived on LEL boat were sent to Nauru, while others remained on Christmas Island and were eventually released into the Australian community, 2016. Artwork: Yousef, 10 year old child detained by Australia on Nauru. 

Check the symposium program


Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.