Livestreamed on Tuesday 5th July 3.30-5.00pm AEST.

Recorded by the ABC & broadcast on ABC Radio National after the event.

Bryan Mukandi

“When will things go back to normal?”

In the Australia of economic uncertainty, social restrictions and a sense of precarity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of a return to normal has become so pervasive that when not stated explicitly, it forms part of that white noise on which we rarely focus. The desired return arguably now functions as the true north around which the nation gets its bearings. Were Australia a moving vessel, ‘normal’ would be the heading towards which the bulk of collective action is being directed. In this lecture, I want to examine this pursuit of ‘normal’, which I propose to term ‘the white fantastic’. 

The concept of ‘the white fantastic’ is drawn from Richard Iton’s meditation on post-civil rights cultural politics, In Search of the Black Fantastic; and Charles Mills’ indictment of the settler colonial state as a ‘racial fantasyland’. Beginning with Aristophanes’ The Birds and Plato’s Republic, thinking through Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow and Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book, I plan to examine the function and workings of fantasy within the Australian polity. Rather than advocating for a view of political maturity that puts aside fantasy, I take seriously Tsenay Serequeberhan’s suggestion that the ‘antidote is always located in the poison’. Rather than when things will return to normal, I propose that we  question what a republic founded on different flights of fantasy, on a more just fantastic, might look like. 

A free, ticketed, live streamed event. This lecture is recorded by the ABC & available for download after the event on Radio National.


Alan Saunders 1954 - 2012 

Alan Saunders was a prince among broadcasters. Of all the journalists I've ever met, he had the deepest love of, and also understanding of, philosophy, and his passion for ideas made doing a program with him a highlight of one's year -- even long distance by phone, and even more in person in the studio. What he brought to public discussion was priceless'.

- Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

In recognition of his enduring work, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in association with the Australasian Association of Philosophy presents an annual Alan Saunders Memorial Lecture. The lecture aims to spread the joy of philosophy and make it accessible to the wider public.

Picture - Michal Kluvanek

2021  Stephen Gardiner

2020  Cancelled due to pandemic

2019  Alison Wylie

2018  Serene Khader

2017  Nancy Sherman

2016  Susan Wolf

2015  Cordelia Fine

2014  Philip Pettit

2013 Simon Blackburn

©Australasian Association of Philosophy
ACN 152 892 272 ABN 29 152 892 272
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