The Mildura Writers Festival is delighted to announce the recipient of the $15000 residency program for 2023 is Melinda Hinkson.
The national call out for projects from writers working in any genre to enhance the regional or national cultural landscape attracted the highest numbers ever sought for a Mildura-based literary residency. Applications were of a high standard reflecting a diversity of engaging ideas for worthy projects.
Melinda Hinkson’s winning proposal - Nourishing futures in the Mallee-Millewa - will explore the intergenerational experience of work and life in and beyond Mildura’s irrigation belt through the eyes, bodily experiences, and memories of primary producers. Extending research relationships being built since 2019, the residency will provide a vital opportunity for a period of immersive creative research and writing, as well as interviews, observation, and the deepening of relationships in the region. The Mallee-Millewa is one of Australia’s most important centres of primary production. The region and its human and other-than-human inhabitants face profound challenges in a warming climate, increasingly frequent extreme weather events, unreliable water supply, as well as a raft of geopolitical, economic, and social pressures. From the perspective of history, however, such challenges are not new to local First Nations communities, nor to the successive waves of migrants who have made the Mallee-Millewa region home. Delving into memory and exploring intergenerational approaches to problem solving can provide vital sources for imagination and inspiration for a future-focused resourceful community. Discussions with intergenerational farming families often reveal lives that have been distinctively shaped by a rich conjunction of practically engaged life on the land, other forms of enterprise, as well as diverse intellectual and creative pursuits. Farming work has always involved energetic problem solving—by individual inventive growers, within families, farmer to farmer, farmer to agronomist, and through informal and formal cooperative arrangements. Across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries agricultural practice has been in a process of constant adaption and transformation in response to techno-scientific developments and the drive for large corporate profits, while the human need to produce food continues to draw growers of all kinds to human-to-human scale problem solving. The work undertaken in the residency will form the basis of a 5-6,000 word essay to be submitted to an Australian literary magazine and will also contribute to a larger book length project exploring Mallee/Millewa primary producers’ contemporary navigation of economic, environmental, climate and social pressures.
Melinda Hinkson is a is a social anthropologist living and working in Melbourne/Naarm. Her work explores fault lines in settler colonial Australia. Much of this work has been informed by long term research relationships with Warlpiri people of the Central Desert. Her most recent book is an intimate ethnography of displacement, See How We Roll: Enduring Exile Between Desert and Urban Australia (Duke University Press, 2021). Since 2020, Melinda has been pursuing new research with primary producers in the Mallee/Millewa region. She is an associate professor of anthropology at Deakin University and executive director of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies.
Melinda will spend one month in Mildura and attend the Mildura Writers Festival from 13 – 16 July as a guest author.