As someone who is not Indigenous or Palestinian, coming to the Indigenous-Palestinian Solidarity conference helped me counter the dismemory[1] surrounding histories of the settler-colonial state. It also provided me a space to remember the anti-colonial heroes that encourage us to take our anti-colonial politics and actions in the present and trace them to the past, thus enabling us to begin decolonizing through transnational solidarity. The following reflective piece brings together some of my notes from the conference.

This conference revealed the “irresistible future vision”[2] that was dreamed up by freedom fighters and revolutionaries before us. In fact, creating a future that is irresistible to ourselves first requires us to connect our anti-colonial past with our decolonizing futures.[3] We must move past our “atrophied imaginations”[4] which struggle to see a world without borders, prisons, detention of refugees, and violence inflicted on the human body, non-human species and the land.[5] We must make links between how colonial empires treat Indigenous peoples and their lands across the globe by examining how the settler nations control Indigenous communities through access to waterways, sky, sea, and land, as well as the resources they provide.[6]

Nadia Ben-Youssef’s talk on the Bandung conference (April 18-24, 1955) reinforced the idea that decolonising our future is about slow and deliberate relationships.[7] Knowing each other’s histories and heroes creates possibilities for transnational solidarity. It uplifts anti-colonial voices and resistances that exists on all colonised lands. Nadia’s discussion on the historic gathering at the Bandung conference situated me in the moment when 29 newly independent countries gathered together and engaged in anti-colonial discussions that “posed an existential threat to the empire”[8]. There were also those with ongoing liberation struggles that came to the gathering to demand solidarity from the newly independent countries. The demands and possibilities for solidarity that came out of this conference represented a “rejection of the idea that you need to demand your rights from the powerful”[9] through preferencing solidarity from those within the resistance as a strategy to dismantle the empire.[10]

I was born in independent India 47 years after the 1947 independence which followed hundreds of years of a long, fiery, but fragmented anti-colonial uprising in South Asia. I was born into a post-colonising world that was rich with remnants and reminders of the British empire, which extended itself to surveillance, containment, criminalisation, dismemory, fragmentation, and genocide of Indigenous peoples.[11] India’s freedom fighters and warriors that became beacons of the anti-British sentimentbarely seeped through textbooks that triumphed and memorialised colonial histories. These histories of resistance were found occasionally if you watched Rang De Basanti or questioned the curriculum. The ways in which Bhagat Singh was cinematically celebrated in this 2006 film re-ignited anti-British sentiment in a mostly middle-class youth, without greatly disturbing the collective memories like a “petulant nation just shaking off the hangover of colonisation”.[12]

I currently live and write on Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung lands of the Kulin Nations, where I see Indigenous solidarity as central to dismantling the colonial nation-state’s insidious systems. These systems control and create inequities, while effectively whitewashing the genocide upon which this nation-state was founded. The 232 years of denying this history of ongoing colonisation on these lands means that we need to insist on liberation and do work that we actively situate ourselves in, while imagining transnational solidarity across the oceans.

Nadia described this work of decolonial action in Australia as interconnected, stating that “our struggles are etched onto each other. What you do here for Indigenous struggles is a victory for us. Do your work here. Tell our stories so we recognise each other and see how numerous we are”[13]. This also made me reflect on my anti-colonial thoughts and actions in understanding that there have been “slow and deliberate relationships, across struggles”[14] that have existed, continue to exist, and continue to be forged in order to demand liberation, not only from the traditional power structures that the empire has established, but also from the numerous struggles for justice.

How can we begin to imagine an irresistible future vision without first looking back to understand where our anti-colonial existence was first imagined? How can we situate ourselves in moments when this existence was a future vision of past revolutionaries? The methods of violence that underpin the Empire were threatened, and at times dismantled in moments of anti-colonial resistance, and by the ways in which we keep the collective memories of this alive. Learning about and carrying these moments in our understanding grounds the anti-colonial work that we do and still have to do. It also creates spaces for us to slowly and deliberately learn each other’s anti-colonial heroes and nurture these collective memories so we are able to effectively counter settler-colonial dismemory across borders and in our imagined futures.

The empire’s methods of containment, criminalisation, surveillance, dismemory, fragmentation, and genocide, remain as part of our collective resistance through remembering struggles for liberation [15]. The anti-colonial heroes imagined a future where we could insist on liberation in one place and feel the victories across the globe [16]. Transnational solidarity networks and strategies of resistance indeed reflect how numerous we are [17].

This conference unsettled my settler-migrant position on unceded Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung lands and extended this transnational solidarity that made my anti-colonial position possible. It reinforced the need to continue this solidarity through insisting on learning each other’s radical histories, while continuing to insist on liberation. It also made me acknowledge, remember, and pay my respects to Velu Nachiyar, Lakshmi Bai, and so many more anti-British revolutionaries that have struggled to enter our collective memories, as well as the ancestors and elders on the stolen Indigenous lands, to the anti-colonial activists on the lands whose campaigns I have and will continue to intersect with, through my solidarity work across struggles.

I am still attempting to move past this dismemory in our discourse, gathering anti-colonial histories and heroes, and reimagining what solidarity work looks like on this land. As Nadia’s discussions weave in and out of my reflection, her words that “decolonization needs to happen everywhere, solidarity needs to be transnational”[18] reminds me that solidarity is a praxis, that the work that has been done must be remembered and of the work that is still needed in imagining and actioning a new world order.

[1] A word I first heard Nadia Ben-Youssef use that made me reflect on and question the way discourse is created and the ways in which it affects collective memories associated with place.

[2] Nadia Ben-Youssef, “Slouching Towards Bandung: Rooting our Decolonised Future in our Anti-Colonial Past,” paper presented at the Indigenous-Palestinian Solidarity Conference, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 6-8/11/2019.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Tony Birch, “Inside the Conflict Zone: Global Colonialism and the Destruction of Country,” paper presented at the Indigenous-Palestinian Solidarity Conference, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 6-8/11/2019.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Léopold Lambert, “Spreading the Decolonial Spirit of Bandung from Tunisia to Turtle Island: Recorded in Naarm (Melbourne) with Nadia Ben Youssef on November 8, 2019,” The Funambulist, no.131, accessed on 23/2/2021, at:

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ben-Youssef.

[12] Sunil Khilnani, “Forgotten Heroes: the True Story of India,” The Guardian, February 19, 2016, accessed at:

[13] Ben-Youssef.

[14] Lambert.

[15] Ben-Youssef.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Lambert.

[18] Ibid.

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