Meet the curator: Sarah Krasnostein
Sarah Krasnostein has worked as a lawyer, researcher and lecturer. In 2018, her biography of Sandra Pankhurst, The Trauma Cleaner, won the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Prize for Non-Fiction. As one of the Festival's guest curators, she spoke to us about how this year's theme inspired her programming.
As the grandchild of a holocaust survivor, the duty to question received authority – social, political, legal – was the driven into me like a bone screw. So, I always return to that notion of power as a relationship; the idea that it cannot be wielded in its total form if its claims to authority are, in some way, rejected by those who would be subjectified.
The type of immersive research I've done over the past few years has taught me that when we talk about that type of rejection or resistance, we are talking about resilience – that practice of repeatedly insisting upon full humanity, with all the rights and dignities that attach to it – in the face of often-terrifying external messaging to the contrary. I think that holding that notion up to the light is something that can fortify us all personally and politically.
I always return to that notion of power as a relationship; the idea that it cannot be wielded in its total form if its claims to authority are, in some way, rejected by those who would be subjectified.
If we can view resistance to unjust authority through the prism of resilience, that is its own tiny act of refusal – flipping the balance of legitimacy, speaking in positive language.
I wanted to explore two particular features of resilience. First, how we disconnect from dangerous messaging in the current socio-political environment to try to protect and maintain independence, dignity, and justice. Second, how we connect with others to form the social links that sustain us in times of uncertainty and fear.
The opportunity to co-coordinate discussion on topics I care deeply about with writers whose work I so admire in front of an engaged audience of readers is a wonderful chance to hopefully promote productive dialogue on the issues.
– Sarah Krasnostein, Guest Curator