BFU Radical Reading Group

Why a reading group?

This time last year (January 2017) we decided to try and test out the possibility of running an autonomous radical reading group with weekly texts and a tutorial-like discussion group structure.  On the 19th January we held a panel discussion and community meeting with a bunch of interesting academics and activists talking about neoliberalism and the university, and the radical histories of reading groups. The following week, on the 25th January 2017, we hosted out first official reading group. A lot of people came. We ran out of seats. We read an impressive bunch of work that week: two chapters of Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s Talkin’ up to the white woman, a beautiful piece by Professor Irene Watson, ‘Power of the Muldarbi, the road to its demise,’ two short opinion pieces by Amy McQuire and Celeste Liddle, three poems by Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and a chapter of Alexis Wright’s extraordinary Carpentaria. Yep. It was pretty ambitious. We split into a bunch of groups, sweltered in the January heat, tried to think ethically and deeply about colonisation, decolonisation and Indigenous sovereignty, and afterward, headed to Musgrave Park to help make sandwiches for the Invasion Day action the following day. 

We planned to run the reading group until June. When June came around, we decided to run the reading group until the end of the year. When the end of the year arrived, we decided that really it made much more sense to continue the reading group in the new year, because there’s just so much left to read. 

The idea is pretty simple: a bunch of folks getting together to think through some big ideas, drink tea, and shamelessly embrace our earnest enthusiasm for critical theory and gooey philosophical chats.

This year, we’ll be meeting on Thursday evenings, at a new creative hub in West End called OuterSpace (1/170 MONTAGUE ROAD, SOUTH BRISBANE) from 6pm – 7ish. Sometimes we’ll have tea afterwards. Sometimes we might screen films in addition to the readings.  Sometimes there’ll be lectures on in the same week.  Generally though, this document should be a reasonably good indication of what you can expect from the reading group for the first half of this year.

So what do we read?

The focus of this reading group is on counter-canonical works; writing by and about Indigenous, queer, black, POC, anti-capitalist and feminist ideas and theories. We want the process of collective reading to be expressly political: we are reading this content in order to know how better to respond to the crises of the present.  This isn’t an abstract learning exercise, though those too have their merit.  This is a deliberate space for thinking philosophy, theory and politics in relation to the material, social, economic, aesthetic and emotional conditions of our lives.

These discussion groups will be open to everyone, regardless of whether or not you want to read in advance. You can find all of the readings for the first half of the year in this document. You can read these papers, or just show up on the night to talk and listen and think with us. These kinds of projects should be fun, accessible, fumble-friendly. If you’d like to come for the conversation but you feel like you won’t have time to read the articles: don’t worry! Please come along anyway!

The readings for the next few months are all available here:

If you want to read physical copies of the readings, you can find two copies of each paper in a Brisbane Free University folder at the Outer Space community hub. Pop by earlier on a Thursday to read it in the space, but please don’t remove the copies from Outer Space.  If you’d like a physical copy of the text, you can head to the Gabba Ward council office (Councillor Jonathan Sri) at 2/63 Annerley Rd, Woolloongabba and ask the office staff for the Brisbane Free University readings. They are all labelled with the appropriate dates; feel free to photocopy one for yourself in the office.

If you have suggestions for future readings, or want to get more involved, or just want to have a chat about the project before coming along, you can get in touch with us at brisbanefreeuniversity (at) gmail (dot) com.