For The Saturday Paper, I reviewed She and Her Pretty Friend, an appealing and accessible history of queer women’s lives in Australia from roughly 1830 to 1980. There’s a lot I liked about it and a few things that bugged me too. As always, I can send a read link if you can’t access it through the paywall, just leave a comment.
Scrimshaw code-switches easily between the cautious register of the historian and the more colourful lexicon of chronically online queers, reading real events in relation to memes and fandom tropes such as “oh my god, they were roommates” and “be gay, do crime”. The effect is chatty and conspiratorial, like catching up with a friend who can’t wait to tell you about what she just read, and it’s endearing to witness her transparent disappointment when women treat each other badly or don’t get the life we feel they deserve.
My audio piece for Powerhouse Museum’s Oscillations project is finally out! It’s a chewy little story about sino/trans inscrutability, visibility and representation. Massive thanks to sound and story wizard Jon Tjhia, and everyone whose voices and ideas are part of this work: Atong Atem, Oliver Reeson, Kate Bagnall and Tim Sherratt, and my glorious chorus. So proud of this. Listen here.
I have a piece in Liminal’s second anthology and it’s my very first collage, a sort of annotated time capsule from Chinatown, Melbourne in the 1880s, 1930s and 1980s. Pre-order here to get 200+ pages of Asian Australian excellence including art, poems, essays, fiction, comics, conversations & more.
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.
‘Zanetti cleverly plays with the idea that our queer predecessors paved the way for how we live now, but as individuals can be just as bumbling and out of touch as anyone else when it comes to dealing with teenagers. We might idolise OWLs (“older wiser lesbians”) but they’re only flightless, bug-eyed humans after all.’
Liz and I were on Radio National this morning talking with Jonathan Green about the secret histories of Footscray for Blueprint’s Sense of Place segment. Listen to the show here and check out our Footscray history project, Underfoot.
My Meanjin piece from the Summer 2019 issue is now online if you’re interested. It’s a review of The Chinawoman, a book about a white woman sex worker who was murdered in 1856 Melbourne, and it’s also a reflection on Chinese-Australian history, Aboriginal deaths in custody today, who is worthy of protection, who is disposable, and how that’s shifted.