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Issue Details: First known date: 2014... 2014 Decolonizing the Landscape : Indigenous Cultures in Australia
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'How does one read across cultural boundaries? The multitude of creative texts, performance practices, and artworks produced by Indigenous writers and artists in contemporary Australia calls upon Anglo-European academic readers, viewers, and critics to respond to this critical question.

'Contributors address a plethora of creative works by Indigenous writers, poets, playwrights, filmmakers, and painters, including Richard Frankland, Lionel Fogarty, Lin Onus, Kim Scott, Sam Watson, and Alexis Wright, as well as Durrudiya song cycles and works by Western Desert artists. The complexity of these creative works transcends categorical boundaries of Western art, aesthetics, and literature, demanding new processes of reading and response. Other contributors address works by non-Indigenous writers and filmmakers such as Stephen Muecke, Katrina Schlunke, Margaret Somerville, and Jeni Thornley, all of whom actively engage in questioning their complicity with the past in order to challenge Western modes of knowledge and understanding and to enter into a more self-critical and authentically ethical dialogue with the Other.

'In probing the limitations of Anglo-European knowledge-systems, essays in this volume lay the groundwork for entering into a more authentic dialogue with Indigenous writers and critics.' (Publication summary)


  • Contents indexed selectively. This volume also contains works that are outside AustLit's scope, listed below:

    • Anna Haebich, 'Aboriginal Families, Knowledge, and the Archives: A Case Study' (pp.37-56).
    • Michael Christie, 'Decolonizing Methodology in an Arnhem Land Garden' (pp.57-70).


* Contents derived from the Amsterdam,
Western Europe, Europe,
Rodopi , 2014 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Beate Neumaier , Kay Schaffer , single work criticism

'One of the central concerns recurring throughout this collection is the question of how to probe the limitations of Anglo-European knowledge-systems so as to lay the groundwork for entering into a true dialogue with Indigenous writers and critics. The multitude of creative texts, performance practices, and artworks produced by Indigenous writers and artists calls upon Anglo-European academic readers, viewers, and critics to acknowledge the impact of Australia's colonial past as a violent history of oppression, to engage with alternative ways of knowing, and to adapt counter-strategies of resistance which do not cultivate the comforting position of redemptive empathy and identification, but which, rather, enforce a process of self-questioning and un-settlement, calling for a renewed ethical response. This process has its pitfalls and works differently for different readers, viewers, and critics, given their own different embeddedness in histories of cultural and national trauma and the complex processes of healing.'

Source: From paragraph two (p.ix).

(p. ix-xix)
From Drill to Dance, Kim Scott , single work criticism
Traces a history of Noongar (Nyungar) writing, song, and skill in language play, and discusses the significance of Indigenous languages and writing.
(p. 3-22)
The Great Tradition : Translating Durrudiya's Songs, Stephen Muecke , single work criticism
Discusses the ways in which conventional divisions between graphocentrism and phonocentrism have meant that the same broadening of Australian conceptions of pre-colonial history and culture that have happened in archaeology and art have not happened in literature, meaning that 'Australian literature' is still defined as 'anglophone and written'. Focuses particularly on language groups around Broome.
(p. 23-36)
The 'Cultural Design' of Western Desert Art, Eleonore Wildburger , single work criticism

Discusses the burgeoning of the Western Desert (Papunya) school of art and the way in which scholars of 'Western' art have attempted to fit Aboriginal painting within a 'Western' tradition.

(p. 71-86)
Modernism, Antipodernism, and Australian Aboriginality, Ian Henderson , single work criticism

'THIS ESSAY DESCRIBES THE ENTANGLEMENT in Australia of three concepts: modernism; 'settler modernity'; and Aboriginality. Its three principal arguments are: (i) that European perceptions of Australian Aboriginal cultures were deeply influential in the development of modernism; (ii) that anxieties about the proximity of Aboriginal and settler peoples in Australia — but also resistance to European theories of Aboriginal culture not validated through personal experience of interacting with Aboriginal Australians — influenced strong anti-modernist sentiment among some Australian artists and writers; and (iii) that perhaps this 'anti-modernism' might instead be characterized as an 'alternative' modernism in Australia — an entanglement of visions of progress and degeneration — to which I will give the purposefully ugly label of 'antipedernism'. In developing these arguments I will make reference to Sigmund Freud's Totem and Taboo (1913) as inflected by the work in Australia of Francis Gillen and Baldwin Spencer, and discuss writings by Miles Franklin in particular, as well as Katharine Susannah Prichard, D.H. Lawrence, A.D. Hope, and Christina Stead.'

Source: From paragraph one (p.89).

(p. 89-106)
Material Resonance : Knowing before Meaning, Bill Ashcroft , single work criticism

'WHAT IS IT TO KNOW WHAT WE KNOW? I want to talk about what we can know about the other in the interstices of cultures, in that contact zone in which subjects are mutually transformed. In particular I want to talk about the space that lies just beyond interpretation, beyond the boundary of that product we call 'meaning' to see how we might know the unknowable, might 'know' the Indigenous experience of the world, a form of knowledge outside, perhaps, the boundaries of our epistemology. I say 'beyond' but it may be better understood as a communication that occurs before the interpretation of meaning, in a non-hermeneutic engagement with the materiality of the text. '

Source: Paragraph one (p.107).

(p. 107-128)
Waiting at the Border : White Filmmaking on the Ground of Aboriginal Sovereignty, Lisa Slater , single work criticism
Examines the role of white film-makers in making films of and on Aboriginal land. Particular focus on Tasmania and the conflicted state of White Australian discourses about Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
(p. 129-148)
Wounded Spaces / Geographies of Connectivity : Stephen Muecke's No Road (Bitumen all the Way), Margaret Somerville's Body / Landscae Journals, and Katrina Schlunke's Bluff Rock: Autobiography of a Massacre, Kay Schaffer , single work criticism

'In this essay, I explore three texts written by white Australians that either attempt to explore Indigenous relationships to land or address the legacies of white settler violence. All of them might be considered as texts of reconciliation growing out of concerns generated by the Bringing Them Home Report (1996) on the separation of mixed-race children from their families and the 199os Decade of Reconciliation.3 All three texts seek new ways of belonging to country and new connections with peoples and landscapes. The narratives include Steven Muecke's No Road (Bitumen All the Way) (1997), Margaret Somerville's Body/Landscape Journals (1999), and Katrina Schlunke's Bluff Rock (2004). These hybrid, provisional texts exceed disciplinary and generic classifications. They self-consciously reflect upon the complex attachments and messy entanglements involved in white settler belonging, challenging what Aileen Moreton—Robinson calls the "possessive logic of white patriarchal sovereignty."5 Weaving together autobiographical material with post-colonial and postmodern theory, ethnography, spatial history, cultural geography, ecological ethics, and decolonizing critique, their narrators speak across cultures, attempting to negotiate a contested ground of knowledges, cosmologies, and modes of being; to forge an ethics of being together.'

Source: pp.150-151

(p. 149-168)
Recovering the Past : Entangled Histories in Kim Scott's That Deadman Dance, Sue Kossew , single work criticism
Examines Kim Scott's That Deadman Dance via his conceptualisation of it as a 'recovery' novel and the inter-related experiences of colonial history.
(p. 169-182)
The Geopolitical Underground : Alexis Wright's Carpentaria, Mining, and the Sacred, Philip Mead , single work criticism
Examines the role that mining plays in contemporary Australia, in the relationship between Aboriginal Australians and the land, and in Carpentaria.
(p. 185-206)
Identity and Re-assertion of Aboriginal Knowledge in Sam Watson's The Kadaitcha Sung, Heinz Antor , single work criticism
Closely examines The Kadaitcha Sung as a parable for white colonisation and a reiteration of Aboriginal knowledge otherwise overshadowed by White Australia.
(p. 207-232)
Gallows Humour and Stereotyping in the Nyungar Writer Alf Taylor's Short Fiction : A White Cross-Racial Reading, Anne Brewster , single work criticism

'I find Aboriginal humour powerful and compelling, and in this essay I want to address the ways in which it compels and is taken up by white readers such as myself. This is not to assume that I occupy the position of a universal reader or that white readers such as myself are the definitive or primary audience for Aboriginal literature. Aboriginal literature convenes many different kinds of audiences — including Aboriginal and other non-white audiences —locally, nationally, and globally. Its humour is polysemous and fluid, and speaks to this range of audiences in a variety of ways. Given its slipperiness and semantic complexity, there are dimensions of Aboriginal literary humour that inevitably elude me. In this essay I speculate, as a white reader, about ways it renegotiates cross-racial relationality.'

Source: p.234.

(p. 233-254)
'And in My Dreaming I Can Let Go of the Spirits of the Past' : Gothicizing the Common Law in Richard Franklin's No Way to Forget, Katrin Althans , single work criticism

'In this essay I will discuss how Richard Frankland's award-winning short film No Way to Forget (1996) approaches the topic of Aboriginal deaths in custody in gothic terms. As I will show, Frankland reverses gothic dichotomies, employs tropes of haunting and trauma, and ultimately exposes the fictional quality of the gothic itself in his representations of the Australian common law and its institutions. Through an appropriation and transformation of both this originally European mode and the English legal tradition, he thus creates his very own version of an Indigenous gothic. By asserting the cultural strength of that vast body of knowledge summarized as "Dreaming/Law/ Lore,” Frankland reclaims Aboriginal identity and subverts what he and others have described as the de-humanizing quality of the law in civic and spiritual terms? I will therefore first outline the benefits that the field of law and literature offers for questioning the factual discourse of law through the study of fiction before I turn to the dangers the use of the gothic mode holds for Aboriginal appropriations. The opportunities filmmaking offers for re-claiming Koori culture and identity will conclude my theoretical outline. I will also draw on the doctrine of reception and the legal foundations of the Australian common-law tradition in order to introduce my following analysis of Frankland's No Way to Forget. This analysis will be supplemented by readings of Frankland's 2002 play Conversations with the Dead, according to the author "a much heavier and harder version of 'No Way to Forget'".

Source: p.256.

(p. 255-274)
Performative Lives – Transformative Practices : Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, The 7 Stages of Grieving, and Richard Franklin, Conversations with the Dead, Beate Neumaier , single work criticism

'In the following, I would like to focus on Wesley Enoch's and Deborah Mailman's The 7 Stages of Grieving (1995) and Richard Frankland's Conversations with the Dead (2002), plays which address and simultaneously perform a transformative process involving actors and spectators, with specific ethical and political implications. While both plays engage in this transformative endeavour, The 7 Stages of Grieving explores the possibilities of connecting across boundaries towards the horizon, while Conversations with the Dead centres on its boundaries, foregrounding questions of difference.'

Source: p.280

(p. 275-292)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Amsterdam,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Rodopi ,
      2014 .
      image of person or book cover 8443950356050315294.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      ISBN: 940121042X (electronic bk.), 9789401210423 (electronic bk.), 9789042037946 (, 9042037946 (
      Series: y separately published work icon Cross/Cultures Cross/cultures : Readings in the Post/Colonial Literatures in English Geoffrey V. Davis (editor), Hena Maes-Jelinek (editor), Gordon Collier (editor), Rodopi (publisher), Amsterdam New York (City) : Rodopi , Z1219090 series - publisher Number in series: 173

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Last amended 25 Jan 2018 15:02:09