Thesis on 60s and 70s movement – basis of next 17 Group talk

The next talk in the 17 Group at 6/20 Drury St West End on Wednesday the 2nd of June at 7pm will be of interest to anyone who was involved in the politico-cultural radical movement of the 60s and the 70s.

It will be given by a radical activist and theorist of the present generation, a young man called Jon Piccini, recent Honours History graduate of the U of Q.
The attachment herewith is his thesis. He examines in particular the cultural dimensions of the movement, paying particular attention to such phenomena as Foco, the group Harpo and the rise of and internal debates within 4ZZZ.

I have read the thesis and found that it was exceptionally interesting in the light of the time that has elapsed since the events that are recorded and analysed within it.

It was interesting to have been there and then to have seen the way that it all looked to a thoughtful and sympathetic eye of the current generation.

I’ll probably send the thesis out again as an attachment in the normal notices of the June 17 Group meeting, but given the pressures on time I thought I’d send it out beforehand to those people on the list who might have a more personal interest in the matters dealt with, so that if you come to the meeting you will have had a chance not only to hear the talk but also to have absorbed the ideas on which it will have been based.

This could add to the depth and rigour of the discussion.

Dan O’Neill

5 thoughts on “Thesis on 60s and 70s movement – basis of next 17 Group talk

  1. Jon Piccini says:

    Thanks Ian, That link provides some useful information. My previous research into the Panther’s was largely from Michael Aird’s ‘Brisbane Blacks’, their published materials (including manifestos and whatnot) held in Fryer and other articles from the radical press at the time.

    Apologies again to anyone who was offended by the thesis for its exclusion of narratives not directly related to the development of a particular type of cultural activism. It is, like all work, flawed, and the projects I am currently working on will seek to remedy these omissions.

    Jon P

  2. Jon Piccini says:

    Dear John,

    I completely and unreservedly accept your criticism of the thesis. It was a history of a specific part of the Brisbane New Left, dealing almost entirely with white, political-cultural activism. There is no historiographical justification for leaving out much of the indigenous aspects of these struggles, rather than a need to keep the thesis to 20,000 words or less.

    I felt at the time that the three general groups under investigation (Foco, Harpo and 4zzz) presented a interesting understanding of the development of a particular aspect of New Left struggle in Brisbane, one which I thought was both integral to its recent history and concise enough to fit into a thesis of the required length, in the required (very short) time frame.

    If I had say, 40,000 words, then space could have been opened to not only a fruitful study of indigenous activism, but also women’s and queer struggles, and the formal/informal relationships which existed between these varying groups.

    In subsequent research for a number of articles for the upcoming ‘Queensland Historical Atlas’ I investigated some of the occurrences and people you mentioned, looking at groups like FCAATSI and the Black Panthers, an organisation I believe to be of great interest and importance to Indigenous struggle in this city.

    Jon Piccini

  3. This is not a history of Brisbane radicalism, it is a culturally specific history of white radicalism.

    What historiographical justification can there be for ignoring Brisbane Aboriginal radicalism of the same period? Terra Nullius history is as wrong in recent history as it is about the founding of Australia.

    Perhaps it could be argued that the white left itself was totally ignorant of the Aboriginal struggle, but there were many key connections between new left and Aboriginal activists during this period. The Springbok tour only rates a passing mention in relation to some heroic aspect of white radicalism.

    The connections between the new left and Aboriginal activists provided a key platform for the land rights movement of the 80s. For any retrospective analysis of the period to ignore this connection is white-washing.

    The central theme of the thesis is contested space. The Aboriginal struggle provides a clear and dramatic aspect of notions of the meaning of space and place and the contesting claims on that space. Again, to ignore the Aboriginal struggle in any discussion of contested space is just Terra Nullius white-wash.

    Aboriginal people started to leave the missions where they had previously been incarcerated and move to Brisbane in the 1960s. In 1962 Pastor Don Brady began is church and political work in West End, and then later Spring Hill which lead to the formation of the black panthers and the “Open Doors” club – a place for music and discussion which, like Foco for white people, became a cultural institution in building the Aboriginal struggle.

    The Aboriginal leadership that developed in Brisbane at this time played a major role in building a national Aboriginal radical leadership and movement.

    To ignore these things is Terra Nullius history and betrays the true history of radical struggle in this town.

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