Black & White: Yiddish Writers Encounter Indigenous Australia (Zoom)
In 1958, the Australian journalist Gedaliah Shaiak traveled around northern and central Australia, visiting Indigenous communities and reporting on his impressions in 30 weekly columns in the Jewish Post – the Yiddish weekly newspaper he edited.
Shaiak’s writings mirrored the dominant paternalistic tropes of white Australia about Indigenous communities, and he was not alone in presenting them to a Yiddish-reading audience.
In this talk, we’ll examine the representation of Indigenous people and communities in Australian Yiddish writing. Focusing on travel writing, journalism, poetry and fiction, we will consider what Yiddish writers’ attitudes might reflect about their own position in Australian society.
This event is proudly presented as part of our Close Encounters series with the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University. Join us in exploring historical connections and conflicts – and their relevance to the Jewish world today.
Author and historian David Slucki is the Loti Smorgon Associate Professor in Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University. From 2013-2019, he was an Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.
He has written widely on Jewish life after the Holocaust, focusing particularly on survivors and their descendants, and on representations of the Holocaust. He is the author of Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons (2019) and The International Jewish Labor Bund after 1945: Toward a Global History (2012); and is co-editor of Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust (2020), and In the Shadows of Memory: the Holocaust and the Third Generation (2015).
Image: Gedaliah Shaiak, ‘Shvarts un vays in oystralie’ (Black and White in Australia), Di yidish post, 1958, Australia.