Everyone is taking their seats, the talk should begin within the next few minutes.
Today's conversation is with author David Austin and hosted by Adrian Harewood from the CBC.
"tell us about the road that lead you to Montreal"-Adrian Harewood
"In many ways I think Montreal has been my window to the world...I made a consious decision to move to Montreal in 1990...I began to spend a lot of time in bookstores where I was able to exchange ideas and have a lot of conversations."- David Austin
Author C.L.R James captivated Austin and greatly inspired him. He gave him many of the ideas that he has written about and discussed.
"The 1990's were a time of heightened-political consciousness...McGill University was a part of this anti-apartheid movement. Tell us about your experiences as a student during this time."- Harewood
"I think for us, the 1990's was our 60's and 70's, in terms of heightened political music and film...it was a moment when all of these issues surrounding race converged" - Austin
He joined a group that began producing papers for McGill's campus with student issues but broader issues as well..."it was part of our education but it was profoundly political, we were attuned with what was happening in the world and wanted to bring that to the school and wider community"- Austin
Austin is speaking about his travels to Jamaica, and how his time there are profoundly shaped who he is and why he chooses to write about some of the issues he does within the black community. He saw poverty, sadness and destruction.
"Why have you chosen to be an independant scholar and not tied to an institution, and how that's shaped your work?"- Harewood
"It gives me the freedom to write because I want to...that profound pressure to produce, and writing in rappid prosession, I've seen what that's done to folks."- Austin
Austin says he's learned the most through those who have brought their experiences to him in unique ways, and taught him in "worldly ways"
Austin asks rhetorical question: what's the place of intellectuals and individuals in dark times.
He said we can't not acknowledge that there's something wrong going on in the world we're living in. He said "It looks pretty grim."
Austin's novel: "you can't write with pre-conceived ideas of what the book is going to be about"- Austin
He says the book ended up writing itself, and changed paths many times. He would search around archives and constantly find new things he wanted to add to the novel.
Room is getting hot, every seat is taken. About 55 people here.
Book raises question of black and white solidarity, as well as white and black sexuality
"Some argue lots has changed for black canadiand, some argue not...where are we right now with the regard to the relationship between black people and the state?"-Harewood
"Incidents happen every day in one form or another, physical abuse, racial profiling...it happens in this country all the time...were living in a time where since 2000 the black prison population has increased by 50 per cent."
Question from audience: what is an intellectual?
Austin: "Anyone can be an intellectual. The university environment is only one place where ideas are produces, and it's not always true that the best ideas are produced in universities...when people encounter each other as equals, those experiences can produce the best ideas and share of knowledge."
For your generation, what is Africa to you?
Harewood talks about a story from his childhood when he went to reach for an orange at an Ottawa grocery store and his father told him to put it back because they didn't buy foods from South Africa:
"From a very young age I think i recognized Africa as being my country, and i had a responsibility to be in solidarity with the struggle of those folks (this incident took place during the Apartheid time)" -Harewood
Question period is finishing up now, onto the wine and cheese portion of the event