I talked to Emma Do and Kim Lam, the writer and illustrator of Working From Home, a graphic narrative about Vietnamese outworkers in the garment industry, and Nguyet Nguyen and Beth McPherson, veteran manufacturing workers and organisers in the textile, clothing and footwear union.
Is indie music in China growing up or selling out? My story for ABC TV on Wuhan’s punk history and what it means for underground scenes to land in the spotlight.
Ft Li Ke (Wild Records/Vox Livehouse), Krish Raghav (comic artist, Chaoyang Trap House), SMZB, Shii, Hualun, Re-TROS, Bohan Phoenix, Wutiaoren, and a flash of the cringe anti-Blackness of Higher Brothers because we have to talk about that.
Jinghua: Part of what we wanted to do was to find the stories missing from the narrative, but I’m really resistant to the idea of heroes… I don’t want to topple one statue and put up another.
Liz: But it’s much harder to find out much about the lives of people who don’t get a statue… We had to go into our research without a predetermined idea of what the final story would be. And it’s this, I think, that’s more useful for those of us on the Left than mining the past for forebears, or new heroes: seeing its radical unfamiliarity.
Liz and I wrote a feature for Overland on Underfoot (our Footscray history multimedia project) and how everyone can make and write history. Read it here.
I made a short podcast about Melbourne’s Chinatown for The Hearts of the People are Measured by the Size of the Land, an exhibition curated by Olivia Koh (Recess) for Rising.
Sadly the festival is paused while Melbourne goes into its fourth lockdown so I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to see the exhibition currently, even the outdoor projections, but you can listen to the podcast in the meantime. Hoping events just get rescheduled.
In this podcast, Jinghua Qian offers a broken, bite-sized history of Chinatown and its role as the epicentre of a fractured and evolving community.
‘Trans people are under immense pressure to present a coherent and palatable origin story that helps cis people make sense of us – even when we are not seeking medical treatment, we are treated by laypeople as if presenting to them for diagnosis. We are supposed to be intelligent, untroubled, sympathetic and reassuring.’
Plenty of ink and pixels have been spilled over the fraught relationship between Australia and China lately, so Nicholas Jose and Benjamin Madden’s anthology, Antipodean China: Reflections on Literary Exchange, would appear to be a timely intervention in a conversation that is rife with misreadings and illiteracy. Read my review in InDaily, part of Writers SA’s review series.
It’s International Working Women’s Day today, which means my grandmother would’ve turned 92 next week. She died in December. Her life (1929-2020) spanned nearly 100 years of immense upheaval in China and she survived it all with resilience, dignity and optimism. I wrote a thread remembering her – first on Twitter, and then republished in Chinarrative. Read below.
You can listen to my essay on the politics of changing my name here via Soundcloud. Kim Cheng Boey’s poem for Silent Dialogue is also available as audio, or you can order a print copy of the Silent Dialogue book here featuring Maria Tumarkin, Elizabeth Tan, Julie Koh and many more.
I grew up thinking there were seven fundamental flavours: suān, tián, kǔ, là, xián, xiān, má. The first five translate easily – sour, sweet, bitter, hot, salty – but the other two don’t own a home on the English tongue. It was a shock to realise that something as material as flavour could be coloured and even erased by language. But eating has many dimensions beyond what happens in your mouth, as Sam van Zweden chronicles in this thoughtful debut, Eating with My Mouth Open.