Conversations in contrast

Photo by Tseen Khoo

I was at an event at the Immigration Museum recently.

There was a savvy panel of Asian Australian intellectuals and creatives from Peril magazine and Asian Australian Democracy Caucus.

They generated a fantastic critical race conversation and covered big, exciting territory about nation-state identities, exclusionary processes, dispossession, and everyday racisms and their consequences for senses of community.

Most of the people in the room were activist inclined and on board with the debates – not always in agreement, but willing to take on the issues and talk about them.

There were several white audience members – mostly older and male – who were deeply uncomfortable, if not openly hostile, to the presentations taking place in front of them.  Continue reading

Screening diversity

Recently, the mediasphere has been running hot with a series of articles and associated commentary about the lack of cultural (racial) diversity represented on our television screens, and in Australian media in general.

Spurred on by criticisms about the Australian television industry from Firass Dirani and Jay Laga’aia, various commentators contributed to the debate about representing cultural/racial diversity on Oz TV (and many readers voiced their concerns in the very active comment sections). Dirani started the momentum by calling for a more accurate representation of 2012 Australia on TV, while Laga’aia tweeted about being written out of Home and Away and his tweeted comments caused a stir.

The question of culturally diverse representations in our media is a constantly challenging issue, but the conversations that were re-ignited and given air-time since February this year clarify just how big the gap is between the reality of the street and what we see on our screens.


From great things, even greater things grow…

AAFF programmes - Nov 2011 (Photo courtesy of the AAFFN & Indigo Willing:

The inaugural AAFF event in Melbourne on 12-13 November was pretty damn amazing. No two ways about it.

The incredible energy that was brought to, and generated by, the gig has rolled on to create the AAFFN (Asian Australian Film Forum Network). The AAFFN has its own Twitter account (@AAFFN) and Facebook page (here).

Just recently, the “Shout Outs” video from AAFF, which was created and edited by Maria Tran, was uploaded by Indigo Willing to the AAFFN’s Vimeo account. AAFF 2011 SHOUT OUTS:

When I watched the Shout Outs vid at AAFF, and coming off the high that was AAI 4 (where I saw so much intellectual and political creativity – hopefully another post on that will come later; I’m feeling like I need to digest what went on around that event, mostly in a good way), I found myself teary and incredibly inspired. The vibrancy of the talent on the AA screen scene is very exciting. The key realisation I had wasn’t: “Oh, how great it is that another generation is taking the reins of cultural production and forging its own path”. I did think that, but – more importantly – I felt that these kinds of challenges can be taken up by anyone with the drive and skill, across a huge range of cultural arenas. It inspired me to want to be one of those people in a cultural arena, rather than the academic one that I’d been in for a loooo-ong time (*cue sound of plans hatching*).


>PERIL Issue #9 – "Creatures" now online


PERIL – Issue #9 – Creatures


Creatures’ features include:

  • An interview with Owen Leong by Lian Low
  • Regular columnist Benjamin Law’s article, ‘The Impossible Princess’
  • Poetry by Liang Yu-Jing, Matt Hetherington, Maxine Beneba Clarke, + Susan Hawthorne 
  • ‘Letter to John Safran’ by Rosey Chang
  • Articles by Violet Kieu (‘Of Dogs and Dialects’), Amy McDonald (‘Guest House’), + Maxine Beneba Clarke (‘Shu Yi’)
  • An interview with Daniel Lee by Owen Leong

>Peril + Mascara Launch – 22 June


Invitation image: Daniel Lee. ‘1962 – Year of the Tiger’ (detail) 1993, digital C-print |

Asialink Winter Writing Series: Peril Magazine vs Mascara Literary Review
TUESDAY – 22 June 2010
Australia’s two new-generation magazines of Asian and Asian-Australian writing join forces for a genre-bending mashup of Asia-focused literary and pop culture. Join MC Raina (of LoCA fame) for a guided tour through Tibetan activist communities in Dharamsala, Singaporean poetry, belonging in a post-multicultural Australia, and Steve Irwin as you’ve never seen him before. Peril vs Mascara is a magazine-style night of short and sharp readings and performance.

The event marks the launch of the latest editions of these two new-generation Asian-Australian magazines.

Venue: Yasuko Myer Room, Level 1, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne

RSVP: ASAP, to email Adam Hills,, (61)3 9035 4026

Enquiries: Adam Hills,, (61)3 9035 4026

>Call for Submissions – Peril #9 – "Creatures"



The Monkey King, Godzilla, dragons, serpents, talking animals, demons can all be categorised as creatures that occupy a place in our fantasy and narrative. In Western colonial language and discourse, the “Other”, the “savage”, the “uncivilized” have been attributed with non-human and animalistic characteristics. In the fantasy, horror and sci-fi genres, creatures have also come to represent difference and the multiplicity of identities. We invite you to incorporate Peril’s Issue 9 theme – “Creatures” in your work.

Below are some prompts that we hope are only the start of what you might do with the theme:

  • If you imagined yourself as a creature, what would you be?
  • Xenophobia/ fear of the “Other”
  • I want to be a teenage vampire
  • Utopia is…
  • Difference and multiplicity of identities
  • Morphing/anthropomorphism
  • Fur/skin/feathers/fangs
  • Avatars
  • Past and future creatures (folkloric creatures in global media narratives; new creatures)
  • The hybrid
  • The creature’s lair
  • The creature in Asian horror genre
  • Performing creatures – e.g. ‘cosplay’ (or costume play), fantasy gaming
  • Metamorphosis
  • Non- and post-humans

Let’s see and hear what you think about “Creatures” – write, create, draw, compose, collaborate! We accept submissions of any kind of text, sound or visual art, as long as it can be presented online (e.g. essays, blog entries, reflections, poetry, fiction, memoir, spoken word).

Our text limit is 1000 words. Check out our previous issues to see what we publish at

You don’t have to be Asian-Australian to contribute, but your contribution should be related to the theme, and be of Asian-Australian interest.

The deadline for Issue 9 is March 30 2010, to be published in May 2010.
For Peril submissions or queries, email

>NEW ISSUE of Peril now online!


NEW Issue #7 of Peril – “fashion/fetish” now online!

This issue’s articles:

  • “Nailed to the Family Tree” by James Laidler
  • Interview with author of Look Who’s Morphing, Tom Cho (by Hoa Pham)
  • “Skin” by Komi Sellathurai
  • “The Neon Witches of Shibuya” by Corey Wakeling
  • Artwork and interview with Kelly Mollenido Robson (by Owen Leong)
  • “Racial Consciousness = Fetish?” by Jen Kwok
  • Artwork and interview with Shigeyuki Kihara (by Owen Leong)
  • “You Can Love Hello Kitty but Why Can’t I?” by Tiffany Loh
  • Poetry by Qi Guo and Yi Sha (trans. Ouyang Yu)
  • Poetry by Tammy Ho Lai Ming and Tass Holmes

Don’t forget that this issue will be officially launched at the Sydney Writer’s Festival by Annette Shun Wah:

Saturday, May 23 2009
11:30 – 12:30

==> Full details about the launch can be found HERE.


You can also now follow Peril magazine on Twitter HERE.


The Call for Submissions for issue #8 of Peril, “Why Are People So Unkind?,” will be circulated shortly, so watch out for that!

>Pimping: Peril, and the good kinds of committees

>Oooh, can’t wait for the stats on this entry and what kind of search terms folks put in to arrive here…


REMINDER – Call for Submissions – Peril #7 – “Fashion Fetish”

‘Fashion Fetish’ is the theme for Peril Issue 7! Love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion on fashion and fads. Is it, as Bowie says, big, bland, loud and tasteless? Or is it the realm of risk-takers and visionaries? Do you follow or buck trends? Is Oriental in (yet again) this year? Are we talking clothes or cultures?

Below are some prompts that we hope are only the start of what you might do with the theme:

* (Un)healthy obsessions
* ‘So hot right now’ – lure or deterrent?
* Extreme fashion
* Fashion, culture and identity – who or what does it say you are?
* What’s class got to do with it?

Let’s see and hear what you think about ‘Fashion Fetish’ – write, create, draw, compose, collaborate! We accept submissions of any kind of text, sound or visual art, as long as it can be presented online (e.g. essays, blog entries, reflections, poetry, fiction, memoir, spoken word tracks, photos, etc.). Text limit is 1000 words, preferably submitted in .txt format.

We are fortunate enough to have two issues sponsored by the Australia Council this year, and will be paying contributors for Issues 7 and 8. Issue 8’s theme will be “Why are people so unkind?”

The deadline for Issue 7 material is March 31 2009, to be published online by May 2009. This issue will be launched at the Sydney Writers Festival by Annette Shun Wah (full details forthcoming).

Please send your submissions and queries to

Check us out at


If you didn’t already know, I’m one of the editorial advisors on Peril (and if you don’t know what Peril is, go HERE and check it out for heaven’s sake). It was established in 2006, the same year that AASRN officially came into being, so that was a rather smashing year for Asian Australian culture and scholarship.

We just had our second board meeting on the weekend and, as always, I come away from those (and our editorial get-togethers) inspired and hepped up to do more. Hence, the spamming of my networks with Peril material today, as well as this post. I like working with this editorial team a lot. One of them, who had a baby less than a month ago, was at the meeting – I was so impressed, as I wasn’t able to contemplate facing the professional outside world for quite a few months after I had E.

I have three editorial teams I work with now. Two of them I really love and find stimulating, fun and constructive. The third is very new so I haven’t got as much of a feel for it yet; it’s also a group that’s much larger and more articulated so I haven’t seen all of them in one room as yet (and not sure if this will be something that ever happens).

I’ve also attended an ACSANZ meeting recently, our first of two for the year. Seeing as I’ll be on mat.leave for the latter part of 2009, I won’t be seeing them again till late 2010. I was on this committee for many years, from when I was a PhD student. I took a break from it for a couple of years and re-joined in 2008. One of the things I like best about it is the range and calibre of people I’ve had to work with. Right now, I have a few buddies who happen to be Can.Studs folk, and that kind of bond on a committee is great. Because I’ve worked with many of the current committee members before, there’s a sense of collegiality and support that isn’t quite there when you join a group ‘cold.’ Knowing the strategies and personalities of various people also helps a lot in the necessary maneuvering during tricky discussions. I like being part of larger organisations that still feel ‘cosy,’ and this one, with its connections to the Canadian High Commission in Canberra and the govt and international association in Ottawa, has added perks and heightened interest. I remember going to a 3-course lunch at the house of the Canadian consul (I think that’s what his title was…), and feeling totally out of my depth. I’m not au fait with diplomatic chit-chat and embassy-level etiquette.

I feel disappointed at times that I don’t currently have a focused Canadian component to my research (it’s almost all Oz focused, with the ARC project broadening it to include USA perspectives). While I enjoy the committee and association, the networks and events aren’t really feeding my work at all for the moment.

>CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Peril Issue 3 – "Rebel"

“Rebel” Issue of Peril

“Hey! What are you rebelling against?”
“What’ve you got?”

We at Peril, an online Asian Australian journal, are seeking your submissions for our 3rd issue that’s themed as “Rebel.”

Feel free to challenge the theme. Oh, and feel free to interpret ‘rebel’ as noun, verb or both.

Been resisting authority lately? Fending off, or embracing, the model minority tag? This issue of Peril focuses on the ways we might buck expectations. What does ‘rebellious’ or ‘rebellion’ really mean? What does it mean to be ‘anti-‘? Are there anti-rebels? What are you rebelling against? With or without a cause, show us what you can rally.

You don’t have to be Asian Australian to be a Peril contributor, and your submission might not have to reference Asian (Australian) identity either. It’s a tricky thing, identity. Surprise us. Make us want to publish you.

We accept:

  • Articles, essays, short stories, poetry, diary entries, zine excerpts, reviews, letters and any other type of text that you want to try out.
  • (Audio)/Visual art that can be accommodated on our website (please email us for further queries). For example: comics, mp3s, photography, line drawings, flash animations, short-films, etc.
  • Links to your online work (e.g. relevant blog posts).
  • Anything else you can think of, as long as it’s suited to the practicalities of the online medium.

Word limit: We would prefer a maximum of 1000 words per submission. Longer submissions may be serialised over two or more editions.

Publication date: This issue of Peril will be launched at the end of June 2007 to coincide with AAI 2: The 2nd Asian Australian Identities Conference (28-30 June 2007; Melbourne, Vic).

Deadline: We require your submission on or before 30 April 2007.

Format: We prefer plain text submissions by email.

Payment: As a start up journal, unfortunately we cannot offer you payment. However, we are working hard to ensure that your work can reach a wide audience and be published alongside pieces from other outstanding writers.

Copyright: All copyright remains with the creator. We do not insist on being the first to publish your work so feel free to submit already published material or stuff submitted elsewhere.

Check us out at

>Issue #2 ("Heroes") of Peril now online!

>The newest issue of Asian Australian journal Peril is now online! Go check it out and read the shiny new articles and stories.

The 2nd issue’s theme is “Heroes” and I’ve got that vox pop piece in there that I mentioned on this blog earlier. Other contributors include Helen Huynh, Adam Aitken, Lian Low, Tom Cho, Shalini Akhil, Jen Tsen Kwok and Ta Duy Binh.

This issue has about a dozen pieces in all, and I really liked the variety of contributions. A couple of them even had me blubbing quietly in front of the ‘puter. I’m a bit of a marshmallow in general when watching movies/TV and I can cry at the drop of a poignant line of dialogue, but it’s a different scenario when it comes to reading. It usually takes much more to bring a tear to my eye, or make me respond emotionally, to black and white text on a page.

I must admit that I’m not a big poetry person, so my preferences automatically flow toward short stories. My favourite piece in the whole issue is Phillip Tang’s “Teenage Dreamers.” Tang has such a deft touch with characterisation and interweaving the significant narrative threads. The fact that I’m a bit of a Leslie Cheung fan myself just adds another layer.


While on the subject of reading, I must shame-facedly make an admission here that I’ve only just yesterday started reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind. I’ve been meaning to read it for, oh, about a decade. I’m only into the first 30 pages or so and I’m utterly blown away by the cadence of the prose and the evocative, brilliant language. I can’t wait to get back to it.

I seem to take a hiatus regularly from reading books. During these times, I channel my energies into reading magazines, playing with online stuff, or watching too much TV. When I click back into the book-reading groove, though, I usually do it in a big way.

Just prior to picking up Perfume, I’d just finished Nury Vittachi’s latest book, The Shanghai Union of Industrial Mystics (the fourth in his Feng Shui detective series). I got Vittachi’s book as a present and it had been languishing on my shelf, along with quite a few other birthday gifts as I worked my way through the usual back-log of ‘things I must read.’ In the end, I finished Vittachi’s book in about three days. It’s very readable, sporting an outrageous premise and a subcurrent (sometimes OTT, sometimes v. subtle) of commentary about cultural gaps and connections. I liked it, but I don’t know if I’ll be rushing out to read everything in the C.F. Wong series.

After Perfume, the next book’s likely to be Lily Brett’s You Gotta Have Balls.


While I’m here (and while you’re clicking around), go read Oanh’s great blog entry about pho.

On foodie topics: I actually had half a blog-post ready to go (ages ago) that was chockers full of food porn (dishes made by my Mum and photographed by me). Then Blogger rolled over and died and I lost the entry and have never bothered trying to re-create it. I really should, though, because the amount of food porn that’s gathered on my hard-drive at home is too good not to share.