'This article considers some of the reasons why Irish-Australian literature has not been a significant trajectory within Australian literary studies and what it might offer if it were. Since the colonial era, Irish difference has been both recalcitrant and assimilable but, in the wake of Federation in 1901, Australian literature was concerned with the production of a national tradition and Irishness served to differentiate Australianness from Britishness. This article is concerned, then, with retrieving Irish difference. It extends my longstanding interest in Indigenous Australian literatures by analysing the representation of Irish Australians in Indigenous Australian writing, particularly moments of solidarity between the Irish and Indigenous Australians. After looking briefly at representations of colonial relations between the Irish and Aboriginal Australians in Jack Davis’ 1979 play Kullark and Eric Willmot’s historical novel Pemulwuy (1989), this article offers a reading of a minor scene in Alexis Wright’s Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning novel Carpentaria, published in 2006, as a way of exploring such representations in the contemporary era. This article is not trying to generate a new category for the field of Australian literary studies. Rather, it follows a seam within the Australian literary tradition that imagines generative forms of allegiance that may complicate existing conceptions of the Australian literary field.'
'This article proposes a reading of Alexis Wright’s epic novel Carpentaria that focuses on the mine and its impacts as central to any understanding of the novel. Carpentaria offers a stark portrayal of how resource extraction is intimately linked with both colonisation and capitalism and is sustained through state-sanctioned violence and nationalist ideologies. This article explores the dichotomy between Normal Phantom, who views mining as just another phenomenon in the vast expanse of time, and his son Will, who fights the mine on the understanding that it is an unprecedented threat to the survival of the Waanyi people and their Country. Although I suggest that this wider debate, and the forms of agency it represents, remains unresolved in the novel, I conclude with a meditation on the critically neglected character of Kevin who complicates the novel’s uneasy resolution. In the light of ongoing debates about the Adani mine, Carpentaria is more relevant than ever.' (Publication abstract)
'In order to better understand and appreciate Alexis Wright's publishing history, it is important to first place it in the context of the publishing history of Australian Aboriginal literature. Only then can one properly situate it in the larger context of Australian literature. Finally, for full effect, Wright's publishing history should be placed in the context of the international literary marketplace.' (Introduction)
Wright describes what drove her to write her novel Carpentaria, stating that 'For a long time while I was exploring how to write Carpentaria, I tried to come to some understanding of two principal questions: firstly, how to understand the idea of Indigenous people living with the stories of all the times of this country, and secondly, how to write from this perspective.'