In the Eye of the Storm Book Launch
A Literary Dinner was recently held at Soi 25 Restaurant and Bar in Sydney to celebrate the publication of Assoc. Prof. Paul Sendziuk’s co-authored book, In the Eye of the Storm: Volunteers and Australia’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis. The event featured the authors in conversation with host Brandan Bear, and was presented by The Bookshop Darlinghurst, the AIDS Council of NSW, City of Sydney and NewSouth Books. (Photos by Deep Field Photography.)
About the book:
In the Eye of the Storm is both a history of volunteering during an extraordinary time and a social history of HIV/AIDS in Australia, told through the lives of people who had close proximity to the epidemic but who, in the majority, were not HIV-positive themselves. It is a history of the crisis ‘from below’; a point of view neglected in existing histories of medical, institutional and governmental responses to HIV/AIDS.
The stories in the book are drawn from more than 60 oral history interviews conducted by the authors. Most of the interviewees identify as gay or lesbian, although nearly the full gender spectrum is represented. The book situates the volunteering activities of LGBTQI people – individuals who have traditionally been reviled and criminalised in Australia’s history – within a narrative about volunteerism, of which many Australians are proud, and which lies central to Australia’s national identity. This book thus has the potential to radically recast the way in which LGBTQI people are viewed in society, and histories of the nation are written.
The book recognises that the generation of oral testimony is shaped, to an extent, by the relationship between the interviewee and interviewer. All of the authors conducted interviews and took the lead in writing different chapters. They approached these tasks from slightly different angles due to their own subjectivities and histories of living through the AIDS crisis. Quite deliberately, therefore, they wrote themselves into text, and included their reflections on the interview process and/or of living through the AIDS crisis. Those providing the testimony were able to explore and interpret their own experiences, and given the opportunity to read and grant final approval of their chapter before publication.
The book is an outcome of an ARC Discovery funded project (DP160103552). All of the recorded interviews have been deposited in the Australian Queer Archives in Melbourne and are accessible to all.