Let the Kids Go: Ending youth detention

Presented by: Sisters Inside, the Cloudland Collective, and Brisbane Free University.

When? 7 – 8.30 pm, Wednesday 19th October, 2016.

Where? AHEPA Hall, 126-128 Boundary St, West End


Thousands rallied around the country following Four Corners’ and Amnesty International reports exposing the use of excessive force, tear gas, restraints, unmuzzled dogs and regular humiliations experienced by young people in youth detention centres. This abuse, largely of Aboriginal children, appears to have been condoned in the past by correctional services agencies and responsible Ministers until public expressions of outrage forced a response.

Widespread support for protest rallies came as no surprise. The mistreatment of juvenile detainees is the tip of the iceberg. Mass removals of Aboriginal children is at an all time high and the threat of dispossession unabated, eg. in the Galilee Basin and the planned nuclear waste dump in South Australia. Growing inequalities in income, employment, health, education and so on, associated with neoliberal capitalism have impacted unrelentingly and disproportionally upon the Aboriginal community.

The meeting will address the systemic racism reflected in, and reinforced by, the juvenile justice system, the alternatives to prison, and why youth detention centres should be closed as part of the broader struggle for Aboriginal justice.

• Angela Davis, prison abolitionist, writer, and Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies
• Rachel Herzing, co-founder Critical Resistance
• Melissa Lucashenko, founding member of Sisters Inside and novelist
• Pekeri Ruska, co-founder of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and Black Rising Magazine
• Murrawah Johnson, a spokesperson for Wangan and Jagalingou in the campaign to stop Adani

Entry by donation / no one turned away.

All welcome!

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Gendered Landscapes: Imagining feminist cities

When?     6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 13th July, 2016

Where?    People’s Park, 157 Boundary Street, West End


This is the second workshop in our winter program, looking at the critical context of global “right to the city” movements. In this session, we began by posing ourselves the question “what would a feminist city look like, and how might we bring it into being?”

Naomi Stead is an architectural academic, scholar and critic, based in Queensland, Australia. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Natalie Osbourne is a planning academic, lecturer and all-round fantastic human. Her research interests include social justice and feminism in environmental planning and geography, radical and insurgent planning practice, resilience and community development and community-based adaptation to the impacts of climate change and peak resource.

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Becoming Beautiful: Anarchist Geography and Hope Beyond Hope

When?       6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 6th July, 2016

Where?      People’s Park, 157 Boundary Street, West End


Cathy Howlett: Cathy is a Senior Lecturer in the Griffith School of Environment and currently inhabits a space at the Gold Coast Campus. Her research focuses on the political economy of mineral and energy development on Indigenous lands. Her passion is understanding how dominant political and economic ideologies (aka neoliberalism) can constrain our abilities to both think, and act, empathetically and altruistically. She is particularly interested in how dominant ideologies such as neoliberalism impact upon Indigenous peoples. She is currently contributing to a Norwegian research project that addresses these questions in the Artic geographical context. She is committed to engaged and ethical research with Indigenous peoples and is the Indigenous research specialist on the Commonwealth Scientific International Research Organization (CSIRO) Social Science Research Ethics Committee.

Simon Springer:  Simon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, Canada. His research agenda explores the political, social, and geographical exclusions that neoliberalization has engendered, particularly in post-transitional Cambodia, where he emphasizes the spatialities of violence and power. He cultivates a cutting edge theoretical approach to his scholarship by foregrounding both poststructuralist critique and a radical revival of anarchist philosophy. Simon’s authored books include The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Toward Spatial Emancipation (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), The Discourse of Neoliberalism: An Anatomy of a Powerful Idea (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse and Dispossession in Cambodia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and Cambodia’s Neoliberal Order: Violence, Authoritarianism, and the Contestation of Public Space (Routledge, 2010). He is co-editor of the ‘Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt’ trilogy, which includes The Radicalization of Pedagogy, Theories of Resistance, and The Practice of Freedom (all Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Simon also serves as Managing Editor of ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies and is a co-editor for the Transforming Capitalism book series published by Rowman & Littlefield.



Let us become beautiful ourselves, and let our life be beautiful!
– Élisée Reclus

Anarchism is a beautiful enabler. As a political praxis it allows us to embrace our capacity for living now and doing for ourselves in this moment what we would otherwise leave to authority. Strength is to be found not in what is dreamed possible but as an illumination of the powerful beauty we collectively represent. Anarchism insists upon the development of new relationships with our world and, crucially, with each other. Recognizing such connection implies a relational geography as an aesthetic realization that we all matter, that we are all part of the beauty of immanence. Within this recognition of our capacity for the beautiful comes the seed of something new, nourished by the possibilities of our desire for a better world. A relational geography is consequently a way to try to make sense of a world that is infinitely complex and in an ever-changing process of becoming. Geography’s recent reengagement with anarchism brings us closer to the possibility of shaking off the chains that fetter us to statist, capitalist, racist, sexist, and imperialist ideas by maintaining that our greatest resource is our bonds to one another. In anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus’s notion of ‘universal geography’ we see an early iteration of such a politics of possibility, which looks to connection, or relationality, as its impetus. For Reclus, all people should share the Earth as siblings by expanding our circle of empathy and reorganizing the landscapes of power though strengthened bonds of solidarity. So rather than simply always becoming, for anarchists, geography is about becoming beautiful.

As usual – ALL WELCOME! Completely free!

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POSTPONED!! “Decolonising the City”

Hey folks,

Please note that tonight’s scheduled talk “Dispersed: Decolonising the City” has been POSTPONED until further notice.

Next week’s talk by Simon Springer and Catherine Howlett will go ahead as planned.

Please spread the word!

Warm wishes,

BFU crew

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Hey BFUers!

It’s time to get your blankets packed, a thermos of tea brewed and your thoughtful frowns at the ready…the BFU winter program is here!

Join us every Wednesday evening for the next six weeks of winter for thoughtful discussions, heated conversations and critical thought.  We’ll be meeting each Wednesday at People’s Park in West End (157 Boundary Street) from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.  No better way to warm up your winter than with critical theory and cups of tea in an inner-city park.  Blankets and provocative ideas free.


!!!POSTPONED!!!! 6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 29th June – “Dispersed: Decolonising the City”

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 6th July – “Becoming Beautiful: Anarchist Geographies and a politics of beauty”

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 13th July – “Gendered landscapes: Feminism in the City”

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 20th July – “The right to whose cities? Unpacking the global context of the Right to the City movements”

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 27th July – “Food Sovereignty: Urban agriculture and inner-city landscapes”

***TBC: Saturday 30th July, late afternoon – Cloudland Collective present “Collaborative meeting on “Green Bans” + Film “Rocking the Foundations” & [exciting] speakers panel – Boundary Hotel.

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 3rd August – “Understanding the Commons: possibilities, opportunities and limits”


For more details on the speakers and topics, check this page one week prior to each lecture.  You can also follow us  on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/BrisbaneFreeUniversity/

Or you can join our mailing list by emailing brisbanefreeuniversity at gmail dot com.



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DISPERSED: Decolonising the City

When?   6.30pm – 8pm, Thursday 21st July, 2016

Where?   People’s Park, Boundary Street, West End

What?     Presentations and panel discussion

Join us on Thursday evening for the second of our Winter Program series on the critical socio-political context of the Right to the City and urban activism.

This session will explore questions of colonisation and the right to the city, asking what a “decolonised” city might look like, and what “decolonising” the city entails.

We are honoured to be joined by the following incredible thinkers:

Gordon Chalmers

Gordon Chalmers (BA, JD) is an academic currently based at QUT. His PhD thesis attempts to deconstruct the legal identity of the “Aboriginal Race of Australia” in Australian law, allowing for the possibility of both re-conceptualising and -addressing Indigenous efforts to once again normalize Aboriginal ontologies in Australia.

Melissa Lukashenko
Melissa Lucashenko is an acclaimed Australian writer of Goorie (Aboriginal) and European heritage. She was born in Brisbane, and has been widely published as a novelist, essayist and short story writer. Her books have won or been shortlisted for many major awards. She has also written about the experiences of criminalised women alongside the ground-breaking organisation she helped establish in Brisbane, Sisters Inside.

All welcome! Free!

We acknowledge the rightful owners of the lands on which we meet. Sovereignty never ceded.

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BFU presents: More than Concrete and Steel

When?  6.30pm, Tuesday 31st May, 2016

Where? The Bearded Lady, Boundary Street, West End

A historian, an indigenous activist and an urban designer walk into a bar, to talk about community organising in South Brisbane….

“More than Concrete and Steel” is the first in a series of talks organised by Brisbane Free University for the Right to the City Campaign. The series will aim to explore the meaning of the “right to the city” by contextualising it within anti-colonial, feminist, anti-capitalist and anarchist movements. This set of 6 talks will span a diverse range of topics that intersect with and give meaning to the idea of the right to the city, exploring everything from decolonisation and the urban environment to feminist theories of the public realm; anarchist spatial politics and the aesthetics of urban resistance.

This first session will set the scene for our critical examinations of the “right to the city” by looking at some histories of urban activism in South Brisbane.  The idea that as inhabitants of Brisbane we deserve the right to have a say in how the city evolves has long been part of political organising on the West End peninsular.  Tonight we meet to ask, “who has the right to the city? Who is excluded from our city? How can we resist and change this?”  

Join us in the heart of West End to learn about, remember and discuss 4101’s history of creative resistance and spirited dissent.


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