Carpentaria - Alexis Wright
Carpentaria by Indigenous writer Alexis Wright has been chosen as a core text for the English language Agrégation in France. This is a historic choice for the Agrégation examination, as English-language literature is usually drawn from British, Irish and American writers. The international conference on Carpentaria, organized by the Université de Bretagne Occidentale on 19-20 October 2021, was a day-long event for Agrégation teachers. Through this hybrid event, international speakers had the opportunity to propose innovative readings of Carpentaria and to dialogue with French Agrégation teachers, candidates and with academic researchers and lecturers.
Alexis Wright is a leading voice in both Australian and Anglophone literature. For many years, she has been advocating for Indigenous people’s sovereignty and for the recognition of environmental rights. In the media, her statements on global warming and the depletion of natural resources, as well as her calls to abandon the colonial approach to the environmental issue that characterize industrial civilization, have received considerable attention. Her works have been published in French by Actes Sud. Alexis Wright is one of the most studied authors in Australian universities.
Carpentaria has won several prestigious literary awards including the Miles Franklin Award in 2007. The inclusion of this novel as a core work in the English Aggregation program is significant for its original and innovative aesthetic, its decolonial approach, and its resistance to Western tools of literary analysis. Through this novel, several hundred students will explore issues of colonialism, Aboriginal epistemologies, decolonization and current forms of control and resistance in Australia (and elsewhere).
In addition to the various contributions, the conference program featured an online conversation with Alexis Wright, another with writer Tara June Winch about her prizewinning novel ‘The Yield’; two keynote lectures by Jeanine Leane and Sandra Phillips, leading Indigenous scholars and writers and a third keynote lecture by Temiti Lehartel, an Indigenous teacher from French Polynesia. It also included poetry readings and performances by Aboriginal poets Ali Cobby Eckermann, Jeanine Leane, Romaine Moreton and Ellen van Neerven, and readings in English and French by writers Anita Heiss, Philip McLaren and Kim Scott.
The Carpentaria conference was organized jointly with a conference on Indigenous Environmental Art Practices as Responses to Pollution.