BFU Radical Reading Group

Brisbane Free University are hosting our very first Radical Reading Group! The idea is pretty simple: a bunch of folks getting together to think through some big ideas, drink tea, embrace our deeply earnest enthusiasm for critical theory and gooey philosophical chats.

The focus of this reading group will be on counter-canonical works; writing by and about Indigenous, queer, black, POC, anti-capitalist and feminist ideas and theories. The first month of readings are uploaded in a google drive. You can access it through the link below. Beyond that, we’ll be opening up the reading list to suggestions from participants.

These discussion groups will be open to everyone, regardless of whether or not you participate in the reading side of things. Each week, we’ll upload the readings as well as a short summary and some framing questions. You can read through those, or just show up on the night to listen and think with us. We hope this reading group will be earnestly fun, accessible, fumble-friendly.

Where?  Hope St Cafe, Boundary Street, West End

When?   5.30pm – 6.30pm, Wednesday 25 January, 2016

What?   Casual discussion and reading group


Week 1: Wednesday 25 January, 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Discussion topic: Indigenous feminism, postcolonialism and the politics of representation


1. Aileen Moreton-Robinson, “Talkin’ Up to the White Woman”
Introduction: Talkin’ the talk
Chapter 6: Tiddas Speaking Strong

2. Irene Watson, “Power of the muldarbi, the road to its demise”

3. Celeste Liddle: “How to show solidarity with Indigenous Australians this Invasion Day”

4. Amy McQuire: “All feminists are created equal, but some are more equal than others”

5. Oodgeroo Noonuccal: “Racism” | “I am Proud” | “Then and now”

6. Alexis Wright, “Carpentaria,” (Chapter 1)



Week 2: Orientalism, Exoticisation and Postcolonial Theory


Edward Said, “Orientalism,” pp 1 – 57

Franz Fanon, “The Wretched of the Earth,” pp 1 – 62


Zoe Samudzi: “The Women’s March and the difference between unity and solidarity”…/the-difference-between-unity-and…/

bell hooks, interviewed by i-D, “A discussion of the black female and modern day feminism with bell hooks”…/a-discussion-of-the-black-female-and…


Maya Angelou, “Still I rise”

Junot Diaz, “How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie”

“Colonialism” – Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

You can find the full text of each of the readings in the following google drive folder:…/fo…/0B88BefcZ-uPCRVNsUDMzOXlSYlU…

We acknowledge that we’ll be meeting on stolen land. We acknowledge and thank the traditional owners of the lands on which we live and work. We work to remedy the wrongs of colonialism, and their ongoing legacies. Sovereignty never ceded.

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BFU presents: Teach, organise, resist!

When? 6.30pm, Wednesday 18th January 2017

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

**Wet weather contingencies will be updated closer to the event. Keep an eye on this page and the facebook page ( for updates.

What? A public discussion and panel conversation on the importance of public discussions and panel conversations.

In conjunction with a worldwide movement toward re-imagining and rebuilding, intervening and transforming, Brisbane Free University is thrilled to kick off our first ever ‘Radical Reading group’ with a public lecture on the history, politics and potentialities of public education projects.
This session will coincide with the global day of protest and public education called “Teach Organise Resist.” The session will take the form of a panel conversation and discussion group about free universities, reading groups, public learning spaces and the radical potential of collective thinking.

The participants:

Associate Professor Kristen Lyons is an activist academic with over twenty years’ experience in the fields of environment and development sociology. Kristen’s work is focused on the political ecology of resource conflicts and resistance movements, with a particular interest in fossil fuels, forests and food. Kristen is also engaged in work that is examining the various ways in Australia, and internationally, opposition is growing against the privatised and corporatised university model. In a current collaboration with Professor Raewyn Connell, Associate Professor Richard Hil and Dr Monica Seini, Kristen is working on a book project ‘Transforming Universities for the Public Good’.

Jon Piccini is a historian of social movements at The University of Queensland and dad of one. He will be discussing the history of reading groups in Australia, and in particular how they served as a form of popular education for working class people excluded from higher education.

Max Chandler-Mather is a political historian, organiser, soccer-fiend and all-round intellectual babe. He’ll extrapolate on his Honours research into left organising in Indonesia, discussing the radical role that reading groups and public academia play in left organising movements.

Briohny Walker is a cofounder of Brisbane Free University and Radio Reversal, a politico-philosophical talk show on 4zzz Community Radio. Briohny’s current research interests include queer ecology, precarity, failure, education and climate change. She’ll speak about the history, philosophy, ethics and aesthetics of the Brisbane Free University.

Natalie is a critical geographer and environmental planner based at Griffith University. Her work focuses on social, spatial and environmental justice in human settlements, radical planning and the role of activism and community organising for just transitions, and the right to the city. She will be facilitating the discussion and otherwise saying very little.


About the broader movement:
January 18, 2017, is a day to Teach, Organize, Resist. Transform your classrooms and commons into spaces of education that protest policies of violence, disenfranchisement, segregation, and isolationism. Use the power of knowledge to challenge inequality and to build alliances for social justice.

#J18 is meant to be a day of actions, ideas, dreams, dialogues, performances, alliances, plans, marches, and assemblies created by many in a multitude of spaces and places. We invite educators, students, and community partners to plan programs and activities on that day and to share information via this website. We will together build a platform that connects education and protest across the United States and links these to actions of solidarity in other parts of the world.

For more information, check out the website:

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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:

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



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