un Projects is based on the unceded sovereign land and waters of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation; we pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
un Projects

In our previous editorial for Issue 17.1 we described the decision to explore the theme RESIST before this issue’s theme of RETURN as an instinctual decision. On reflection, this is not true.

Our intent in choosing both words as prompts was to understand how they manifest in creative work. We see them everywhere: in material, concept and process, sometimes presented ethereally and sometimes presented explicitly in considerations of authority, identity and the political. In spotlighting the words ‘resist’ and ‘return’ as distinct but interrelated forces, we wondered if we could conduct a kind of survey of what they mean to our peers.

We also carried some expectations about the responses we might receive through the open call process. For RESIST we saw a collective position emerge, a shared understanding of what to push against and how to do it. The responses for RETURN, however, were unexpected. In our call for submissions we asked: ‘is nostalgia a trap?’ The answer, we found, is yes.

We placed RETURN second in the sequence in part because of our sentimentality. We both got our first ‘arts writing’ gigs in un Magazine and enjoyed the full circle of being invited to edit in 2023. We imagined the word might mean something similar to other writers, offering the neatness, the reassurance, of a closed loop. Perhaps this is evidence that we have confused the expectation of return with a desire for relief. The responses to this issue suggest ‘returning’ is personal. Even when the return is to a cultural or collective place, the position one returns from is contingent on individual circumstance.

For our contributors, returning suggests movement as subject or strategy. This issue is thick with time jumps, reminiscences, material lifespans, walking and weaving. Several contributors from 17.1 RESIST returned to contribute to this issue with sequels, continuations or replies to previous texts. Most contributions take a form best described as the ‘creative text’ — hybrid combinations of essay, poetry and prose that are fragmentary and ethereal. Many contributors have encountered successive layers of power that changed the trajectory of their pursuit or produced further, unforeseen disconnections, while some contributors stood firmly and were able to assuringly assert their right to authorise and return.

What is collected here does not close any loops. It is more like a nebula, with many parts acting in relation, set in motion by the force of collapse or the birth of something new. When captured in two dimensions, in print, the effect is like collage: those parts synthesise momentarily into something whole. This does offer a kind of reassurance. It is a system that acknowledges its own partiality, offering the necessary suggestion of possibility.


This issue was produced, editorial included, before the events of October 2023. Metaphor is not enough in these circumstances, but possibility remains necessary - the possibility, for example, of generosity, solidarity, and justice. We stand with those who are resisting imperialism and pursuing sovereignty here, and around the world.