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The State We're In 

Fintan O'Toole, Deborah Lipstadt, Melissa Lucashenko

Western countries are seeing a resurgence in xenophobic populism, where national identities are constructed around fear of outsiders. In a world obsessed with borders, how do we define ourselves?

Hosted by Edwina Throsby. 

In the Concert Hall, our largest venue | View Seat Map

Talks & Ideas | Antidote

"A nation state is, first and foremost, a shelter"

Fintan O'Toole

Who are we? What is our country? 

Across western democracies, a populist nationalism is on the rise.Brexit was carried on a wave of anti-immigration sentiment and President Trump is still planning on building a wall, while in Australia issues of race and identity continue to dominate our political discourse.

The understanding of nationhood holds crucial questions: in a globalised society, can multiple identities be reconciled? Can you love your country's unique identity, and still embrace multiculturalism? And how do we contend with the legacy of colonialism?

Irish writer Fintan O'Toole, Goorie writer Melissa Lucashenko and American historian Deborah Lipstadt lead this essential panel discussion on the complex idea of national identity. 


More about the speakers...

Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University. She was sued for libel in 1996 by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier, but won the case in court. She is the author of: History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving; Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory; and Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933–1945, and most recently, Antisemitism. She lives in Atlanta.

Fintan O'Toole is one of Ireland's leading journalists, drama critics, biographers, polemicists and historians. He is the author of acclaimed biographies of Richard Sheridan and Sir William Johnson and the bestselling Ship of Fools. O'Toole is a columnist and his acclaimed columns on Brexit for the Irish Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books have been awarded both the Orwell Prize and the European Press Prize. His most recent book, Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain, was published in 2019.

Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Goorie writer. Her most recent novel Too Much Lip was awarded the 2016 CAL Fellowship and has been critically acclaimed since its publication in 2018.  It has been shortlisted for the Stella Award 2019 and Miles Franklin Awards 2019. Her 2013 novel Mullumbimby was awarded the Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction, won the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing, and was longlisted for both the Stella and Miles Franklin awards as well as the Dublin IMPAC Literary Prize 2015. 

Dr Edwina Throsby is the Head of Talks & Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Formerly the Head of Head of Curation of TEDxSydney, Throsby has dedicated her 20-year career to bringing complex topics and stories to the broadest possible audience across platforms and media.

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