1788 marks the fulcrum on which this continent pivots. Before this stretches innumerable thousands of years of Indigenous custodianship. After, 230 years of devastation. We find ourselves now on a continent which seems to have lost its very future, eroded by the same forces which have sought to do so to its past.
Are the disasters of this continent disconnected outbreaks of sickness, or are they instead symptomatic of ‘Australia’ itself? Are the crises of the present unique to this time, or recurrences in a circular history? To understand this moment, we must observe the root of the sickness and how the systems and structures that order our lives on this continent have been constructed and continually reconstructed to serve some and exploit others.
But what is this thing called Australia? Is it an occupation; a prison; a fair dinkum, have-a-go-get-a-go democracy; a site of resource extraction or a dumping ground of waste? Is it a Sunburnt Country, a lucky one, even? Or an outpost of the British, then American, empires; or is it far more?
‘Australia’ has held many meanings over its colonial history: a series of illusory narratives, weaponized for wealth and power; a mythic portrayal of mateship and prosperity, the veil far too thin to hide legacies of bloodshed and violence. When so deeply rooted in injustice and destruction, what hope remains for this land, and those who inhabit it?
There is no singularity, and herein we find our hope. The conditions of our dystopia are equally the substratum for our utopia, and the multiplicities of this continent reveal both. The future is never decided, but forever contested.