Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in AustraliaSamia Khatun
The first major history of South Asian migration to Australia.
Australian deserts remain dotted with the ruins of old mosques. Beginning with a Bengali poetry collection discovered in a nineteenth-century mosque in the town of Broken Hill, Samia Khatun weaves together the stories of various peoples colonised by the British Empire to chart a history of South Asian diaspora.
Australianama (The Book of Australia) composes a history of Muslims in Australia through Sufi poetry, Urdu travel tales, Persian dream texts and Arabic concepts, as well as Wangkangurru song-poetry, Arabunna women’s stories and Kuyani histories, leading readers through the rich worlds of non-white peoples that are missing from historical records.
Khatun challenges a central idea that powerfully shapes history books across the Anglophone world: that European knowledge traditions are superior to the epistemologies of the colonised. Arguing that Aboriginal and South Asian language sources are keys to the vast, complex libraries that belie colonised geographies, Australianama shows that stories in colonised tongues can transform the very ground from which we view past, present and future.
Winner, Educational Publishing Awards 2020 – Scholarly Non-fiction Book of the Year Award
Shortlisted, 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards – Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction
Shortlisted, 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards – NSW Multicultural Award
Shortlisted, 2019 Ernest Scott Prize for History
Samia Khatun is a writer, filmmaker and cultural historian whose documentaries have screened on SBS-TV and ABC-TV. She was born in Dhaka, educated in Sydney and has held research fellowships in Berlin, Dunedin, New York and Melbourne. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Australianama won the 2020 Educational Publishing Awards – Scholarly Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards - Douglas Stewart Prize for Nonfiction and the Multicultural NSW Award.