Friday, November 25, 2011

BOOKS: Henry Reynolds on Tasmania

Work has taken yours truly to a small island off the coast of Mexico. It's a gorgeous place known for its delightful landscape ...

... and for the genocide committed by its early settlers.

So where did all this luscious murderous Tasmanian stuff emerge from? I decided to spend a Friday afternoon finding out.

It didn't involve much research or effort on my part. I just joined some of Tasmania's chattering classes at an upmarket bookshop in Launceston There we were greeted and seated before Henry Reynolds and another historian named Eric.

We all packed together to hear Reynolds tell us about a book he's just written on the history of Tasmania. Reynolds' work certainly isn't the first. There have been plenty of books on Tasmanian history. Go to any bookshop in Hobart or other town on the island and you'll find an entire section on Tasmaniana.

Eric suggested that Reynolds' book was like a distant autobiography of his own dealings with Tassie. Reynolds, it so happens, did most of his study in Tasmania. He then went into exile in Queensland before returning.

Reynolds says that when he was at school, most history taught was about England. Ironically, Tasmanians have had a very rich tradition of writing about the history of their colony/state.

Reynolds tells us that perhaps the reason for this is that everywhere you look, you are reminded of the island's English colonial history which has been preserved in its old buildings.

There's lots of Georgian style buildings. Tasmania was a filthy rich colony, especially during its boom times of the 1830's and 1880's.

Reynolds says he was first approached by Cambridge University Press 10 years ago to write this short history. He was given a 100,000 word limit. He starts his work by looking at European settlement in Tasmania through the eyes of its Aboriginal tribes who has lived in the island for around 300 generations. These tribes were virtually cut off from the mainland by the Bass Strait.

I was surprised to hear that as late as the 1960's, there were indigenous peoples in Tasmania who has not met white people. Reynolds he has spoken to some of these people.

... to be continued.

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VIDEO: Yep, it's time to swear!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

SPORT: Bookshop paradise

I believe in heaven. I've always wondered what it would be like. Maybe I should stop wondering and start preparing for it.

But let's wonder for a while. I'd like to think jannah/paradise is a huge library and bookshop where browsing and even shoplifting is permitted.

Books about all subjects, not just God and religion. Hopefully there will be lots of travel books, stuff on anthropology and politics. Entertaining and humorous novels. And books about sport. In particularly a sport I grew up playing in the backyard and being completely obsessed with.

And I hope Peter Roebuck will be there to sign some copies.

Suicide is a shocking thing. But cricket is wonderful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

COMMENT: A thought on Remembrance Day

This Remembrance Day our thoughts will be going to the Diggers in Afghanistan, many of whom are dying at the hands of allied troops in the Afghan National Army. Perhaps may not be quite the day to try and understand why Afghans are killing our young men.

Or perhaps it is. Perhaps we need to understand the realities of torn loyalties and how they can lead allies to stop shooting the real enemy and start finding enemies among their own.

Part of the answer may be seen in the context of colonialism. Whether we like it or not, Afghans see us as just another colonial power in a long line of colonial waves.

So what happens when nasty sentiments such as independence and freedom come in the way of a war on freedom-hating terrorists?

We might look back at history and find some answers.

(to be continued ...)

Words © 2011 Irfan Yusuf

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