The full abstract for acclaimed writer Arnold Zable’s keynote presentation at ACAS/ACCS2022 titled “The Agony of Limbo and the Imprisonment of the Innocent: Tales from the Frontline, The Ongoing Saga of Australia’s 'Pacific Solution'” has been announced.
This plenary will also be available for IAFOR Members to view online. To find out more, please visit the IAFOR Membership page.
The Agony of Limbo and the Imprisonment of the Innocent: Tales from the Frontline, The Ongoing Saga of Australia’s 'Pacific Solution'
Australian novelist, storyteller, and human rights activist Arnold Zable will weave tales, testimony, poems, and observations regarding refugees who have been indefinitely detained, and imprisoned, in offshore camps in Nauru and Manus Island — which has become known as “the Pacific Solution” — and of refugees incarcerated in detention centres on the Australian mainland. Some were driven to the point of madness, some to suicide. Many have been traumatised. The source of the detainees’ agony had been, above all, the indefinite nature of their detention, their state of limbo, or as Viktor Frankl called it, in his reflection on camp life in an earlier era: their 'provisional existence of unknown limit.' Yet, there have also been many extraordinary acts of resistance — inmates themselves, who bore witness to their own suffering and the suffering of their fellow inmates in many forms — among them literature, journalism, art, music, story, documentation, testimony, and courageous activism. There have been refugee advocates who reached out to offer support, solidarity, and on release, a place to stay. Many refugees remain in limbo. The struggle is ongoing. As too, is the documentation of a period in Australian history which must be understood, and never forgotten.
Arnold Zable is an acclaimed Australian writer, novelist, storyteller, and human rights activist. His books include Jewels and Ashes, Café Scheherazade, Scraps of Heaven, Sea of Many Returns, The Fig Tree, Violin Lessons, The Fighter, and most recently, The Watermill. He has published numerous stories, features, essays, columns, in a range of literary journals and papers, and works for theatre. He has a doctorate from the School of Creative Arts, Melbourne University, titled ‘The Immigrant Experience’, and for the past two decades he has written widely on the journeys, and the detention of refugees, and people seeking asylum in Australia. Zable has lectured widely on the art of story, literature, and human rights issues and was appointed a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne from 2012 to 2014. He has conducted numerous workshops for refugees, bushfire survivors, the deaf, the homeless, problem gamblers, and other groups focusing on story as a means of self-understanding. His awards include the 2013 Voltaire, and the 2017 Australia Council Fellowship for Literature, and The 2021 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. He is the immediate past president and current patron of PEN International, Melbourne.