School of displacement

The School of Displacement is an alternative place to learn about Indigenous history and future and how they relate to displacement. Its third iteration is about to open in Melbourne.

The school is held within an enormous patchwork tent that’s previously set up shop in Redfern and Newcastle, but from August 31 to September 7 will be housed at the Arts House at 521 Queensberry St in North Melbourne. 

Both the physical structure and the more metaphysical school are pieces of art. Artist Keg de Souza and Indigenous writer Claire G. Coleman led the process which intersected smoothly with the Arts House’s own Refuge project.

Arts House artistic director Emily Sexton said the program was the result of a collaborative conversation. 

Refuge is a five-year project we’ve been working on where each year we look at how art and emergency relate to each other – particularly in relation to climate crisis,” Emily said.

Themes have included flood, heat, pandemic – and now displacement.

“We do a lab at the start of the year where we bring together emergency service workers, academics, activists, and the result is the program we’ve got coming up.”

As part of the School of Displacement talks will be held on topics like homelessness, language, culture, water rights – all through an uncompromising lens when it comes to climate catastrophe and Indigenous rights.

“What partly makes it different is that we approach these issues by trying to deal with the future crises, not contesting whether or not they’re going to happen in the first place,” Emily said.

“It’s an empowering project in that way even though at time it can feel sort of grim. One of the answers is that listening to Indigenous communities and about how they dealt with climate change for thousands of years is obviously a really useful thing to do.”

In addition to various different First Nations communities, speakers also include a Palestinian and emergency service workers and fields of expertise range from the arts to all parts of academia and activism. 

For In a Strange Land: How Does Culture Survive When You Can’t Go Home, Palestinian performer Aseel Tayah will join Professor Omid Tofighian from the Amerivan University in Cairo and Noongar writer Casie Lynch. 

Check out the rest of the program here:

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