Is the Commonwealth of Nations a legacy of another age? As the changes triggered by Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump and the rise of China and India create a new world order, will the Commonwealth take a major role in our global future or simply be swept aside? Join Selina Tusitala Marsh, Michael Wesley, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Jenny Hocking in discussion with author and academic Julianne Schultz as they interrogate the role of the Commonwealth at this time of geopolitical uncertainty.

Presented with Griffith Review.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (International)

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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist and currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, was born in Kenya, in 1938. He was educated at schools in Kenya and colleges in Uganda and Britain. He has taught in many universities including Yale and New York University. A UCI Medalist, Ngũgĩ is recipient of twelve Honorary Doctorates from Universities in Africa, Europe, America, and New Zealand. He is also an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; & Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include the novels Wizard of the Crow, Petals of Blood, and A Grain of Wheat as well as the collections of essays Decolonizing the Mind and Something Torn and New. He is also the author of memoirs including In the House of the Interpreter and Wrestling with the Devil. His fable, The Upright Revolution, an English translation of the Gĩkũyũ, Ituĩka rĩa Mũrũngarũ, has been translated into 68 languages, making it one of the most translated stories in history.

Selina Tusitala Marsh (Australian)

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Selina Tusitala Marsh was the 2016 Commonwealth poet and is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate (2017–19). She has published three collections of poetry with Auckland University Press: the award-winning Fast Talking PI; Dark Sparring; and Tightrope. She teaches postcolonial literature and creative writing at the University of Auckland.

Jenny Hocking (Australian)

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Jenny Hocking is a celebrated biographer, scholar and political commentator. She is the author of the acclaimed two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam, Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History and Gough Whitlam: His Time, winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Barbara Ramsden Award and shortlisted for several awards including the Prime Minister's Literary Awards and the National Biography Award. Jenny is the inaugural Distinguished Whitlam Fellow with the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University and Emeritus Professor at Monash University. Her latest book is The Dismissal Dossier: Everything you were Never Meant to Know about November 1975 and her essay ‘Relics of colonialism: The Whitlam dismissal and the Palace letters’ appeared in Griffith Review 59: Commonwealth Now.

Michael Wesley (Australian)

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Michael Wesley is Professor of International Affairs and Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He has published on Australian foreign policy, Asia’s international relations and strategic affairs, and the politics of state-building interventions. His 2011 book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia, was awarded the John Button Prize for the best writing on Australian politics and public policy. Previously Professor Wesley was the Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU from 2014 to 2016, the Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy from 2009 to 2012; Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University from 2004 to 2009; and Assistant Director-General for Transnational Issues at the Office of National Assessments, Australia’s peak intelligence agency, from 2003-2004. He gained his PhD from the University of St Andrews and his BA (Honours) from the University of Queensland.

Julianne Schultz (Australian)

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Julianne Schultz is the founding editor of Griffith Review, the award-winning literary and public affairs quarterly journal.