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Narrative Witness: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States

Narrative Witness: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States, a publication from the International Writing Program, is now available.

Cover of Narrative Witness: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States

The collection features work created during an online exchange that brought together 32 indigenous writers and photographers living in Australia and the United States in fall 2015. During the two-month exchange, the artists created fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography centered on the theme of "narrative witness," which included exploring the historical, geographical, and cultural identities of their communities.

Narrative Witness was a powerful experience and opportunity to see the parallels and enduring legacy of colonization in both America and Australia,” says Timmah Ball, a participant from Australia. “Workshopping my ideas with other first nation writers was enriching; allowing me to push some of the issues I have been wanting to explore even further.”

In addition to working alongside fellow participants, the artists were mentored by exchange facilitators Jennifer Elise Foerster, Will Wilson, and Fall Residency alumna Ali Cobby Eckermann (IWP ‘14). In honoring native voices, the digital workshop not only provided participants a space to create work, but also constructed new communities through which participants were able to further understand each other’s lived experiences.

“The Narrative Witness project has provided a much needed space to connect with other indigenous writers and artists,” says Lehua Taitano, a participant from Guam living in California. “A shared space is sometimes the hardest thing to acquire as an indigenous artist—as historical colonialism, imperialism, genocide, and violent displacement have served to disconnect communities, sever languages, and repress cultural art practice. Even though the experience of Narrative Witness was a virtual/digital one, it served to remind me that our voices are many, are loud, are contributing to important critical conversations concerning our cultures.”

The first Narrative Witness publication and exchange featured artists from Caracas, Venezuela and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The publication is archived at iwpcollections.org. Interested in joining an online exchange? Register for the Distance Learning newsletter.

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