2020 – the view from here


January. It’s been a hell of a year. Heck, it’s been a hell of a decade. 

Each January at Peril, we take a break. By the end of December, our valiant volunteer team have truly worked themselves into early old age, so we extend holidays until around the end of the Lunar New Year. 

That way, come February, we are reinvigorated and ready for the year to come. 

Not so much this year. Across the country, catastrophic bushfires have devastated communities. Compelling smoke messages sent stark reminders about life on the driest continent in the world, our increased vulnerability in the face of climate change and the legacies of colonial land (mis)management. 

The onset of the Novel Coronavirus has reminded us the world is full of people and movement, and fear and xenophobia are still infectious. Christmas Island is again in the news, making our hearts ache, again and again

We’ll be a nation of people who have conversations about other people. And in the middle of it all, again in familiar territory, will be the people of Christmas Island. If people in political, religious or military conflicts around the world could instead show the compassion that we showed on the cliffs that day, what a Christmas it would be.

“We all different. But still same-same one.”

People, Chris Su, Marginasia, 2015

2020 has begun with a compelling wake up call, asking us to understand the nature of interdependence.

There is no “us” and “them”. 

At Peril, amongst these changes, we have taken some time to reflect. 

At the end of last year, we presented to the Asian Australian Studies Research Network, conference, sharing our thinking on the challenging nature of the colonial archive as we contemplate a future that we hope is full of beginnings, but may also be full of endings. 

To continue that conversation and to round out the incredible experience that was the Genealogies of Identities Conference, we are delighted to share our platform with AASRN to bring you a selection of papers from that conference. This is our first edition for the year. 

This conference always reignites our passion to be a part of the critical rendering of Asian Australian creativity. We have spoken elsewhere about the fact that each generation and those beyond will look back on the art we produce to reflect on the values and preoccupations of this era. At Peril, we consider our mission to be a part of that legacy, trying to scratch our figures into the digital cave walls. At AASRN, they make sense of it all.

Our second edition of the year is a series of reviews features and reflections about the creative behemoth that is AsiaTOPA, a festival which has already begun and will continue until the end of March. We look forward to bringing you critically and culturally informed viewpoints about this experience. Further detail on the call out is here. Our critical interest in the festival is multiple and layered. We have always taken an interest in the Asia-esque festivals of Australia. 

Whether it’s OzAsia or BrisAsia, we have been participants and audience, critics and cheer squad, for these collective expressions of Australia’s awkwardness within the region. AsiaTOPA is ambitious and grandiose in its efforts to continue the conversation about what it means to be Australian and Asian, what it means to be Asian in Australia, and what it means to try and link via hyphen, slash or the camel caps of hybridity and overlay. How can a country so patently uncomfortable with the Asians within find so much to celebrate in the Asians without? Is it irony, wishful thinking, or pure mercantilism?

We are also excited to preview a call for Edition 41: Girl Gangs are the Future, a collaboration with the feminist creative collective of the same name.  

We like to think of this as a companion to our earlier edition Man Up, which offered welcome nuance to stereotypical presentations of Asian masculinity. And so, in the coming months we will invite you to consider, the femme, female-ness, feminisms and, in particular, “the girl”. Shake off outdated notions of vulnerable worthlessness, of female infanticide and domestic servitude and contenance youth and young people with the energy and power of a Greta Thunberg. As decolonial feminisms find grounding beyond academia, what issues and experiences should give us hope, passion and insight for the future? We are also interested in collectivity, how working together (or apart) impacts on the “racialised femme”. What modes of working reconceptualise the racialised embodiment of femininity?

As always, you are welcome to connect with our editorial team if this is your first time pitching or you’d like to know more about who we are at Peril and what our readers are looking for. 

Speaking of which.

For the first time in our history, the majority of Peril’s readers were from outside Australia. You might not have been aware of this but, in fact, every year a sizable proportion of our audience have been from outside Australia. 

In our early years of operation, this readership traditionally came from the major global diaspora English-speaking centers. Cities like Vancouver, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, Auckland, often appeared on our global traffic alongside, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane. 

Over the years, this has gradually changed to reflect a more dispersed audience located not in the English-speaking settler colonies but in the region itself. Now you are more likely to read Peril in the Philippines than you are in some capitals of Australia. We think that says a lot about both Asia and Australia. 

To reflect that change in readership we are excited to open up our call for Girl Gangs are the Future for international contributors. We have to acknowledge that the bulk of our current funding is still appended to Australian contributors, but we know that there is room for more voices. Tanushri Saha, our Visual Arts Editor, is in Dhaka at this very moment, making connections at the Dhaka Art Summit. 

We are excited to now feature our Spotify playlist, You Don’t Sound Asian, on our homepage! We know that there are always times in the week when you will need a dose of Bangerz not Mash and YDSA is your place to find it, with our Music Editor Tanya Ali at the helm. We can’t wait in particular to see what some F.E.M.A.L.E. will sound like for Girl Gangs are the Future. 

We’re also welcoming our new, brilliant Prose Editor, Tsaire Duthie, to the masthead (well, not quite – Tsarie has been working with us as an editor for the past little-over-a-year, but we’re so chuffed to now have her in our main editorial fold). However, this means that we’ll be bidding farewell to our Mirandi Riwoe. She has been Peril’s Prose Editor since 2018, bringing to you the likes of this excellent non-fiction piece by Melanie Cheng, ‘The Man in the Green Suit’, as well as this interview with Intan Paramaditha about disobedient women, life and myth, and Paramaditha’s forthcoming novel, The Wandering – and so much more. We’d like to thank Mirandi and wish her all the best for what 2020 has to bring for her – beginning with the publication of her novel next month, Stone Sky Gold Mountain(!).

We’d also like to thank, as ever, our tireless team of volunteers who year after year keep the Peril gears turning. So much of what we do goes on behind the scenes, and without our dedicated volunteers doing the unglamourous work, we simply would not be able to do what we do, nor would Peril be the publication that it is today.

Peril is written and edited on the land of the First Peoples of Australia. We acknowledge sovereignty has never been ceded.

We specifically acknowledge Traditional Owners and Elders from the lands where the bulk of our work takes place:

Brisbane (Meanjin) – Turrbul and Jagera
Canberra – Ngunnawal
Melbourne (Birrarranga / Narm) – Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri
Sydney (Cadi) – Gadigal 

Most importantly, we welcome you back. 

We know that this year may have been difficult for you too, be kind to yourself and each other. 

In a few weeks we will be sharing a reader survey asking you to help shape Peril’s year to come. We welcome your insights and thank you in advance for your time.

And if you have made it this far down, we know you are a generous and patient individual who might even think about dropping a few coins in our Give Now hat to continue this work.

Maybe you’d like to say thank you for an article that you’ve read by making a donation. We’re not a mass-subscriber or paywall publication. We have the time to thank you personally, and to pass on your thanks to the writer, artist, poet or creative in question. And you get to know you’re a part of supporting diverse, passionate, creative expressions of Asian Australian identities in the public realm. Take a cannon to the canon, why don’t you? 

Author: Mindy Gill Eleanor Jackson

Mindy Gill is Peril's Editor in Chief. Eleanor Jackson is Peril's Chair. They share a mean gif and work any timezone you like.

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