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'Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Aboriginal writings from the 1920s are among the earliest, by a communist, to represent Aboriginal workers in the Australian cattle industry. However, critics have not, in general, situated these writings in relation to Prichard’s Marxist politics or to left-wing discourse more generally. Indeed, there is a general consensus that Prichard’s socialism could not inform her writings about colonial relationships in the way it informed those about white workers. This article reassesses this position by situating her rarely read play Brumby Innes in relation to discourses about race and labour in the Communist Party and on the left in Australia in the 1920s. It argues that Brumby Innes grapples with the disconnection between the concerns of the Australian left and the conditions of Aboriginal workers, at times explicitly pointing to the left’s failure to address the exploitation of Aborigines working on cattle stations. It suggests that Prichard’s own orthodox Marxist commitments were stretched and challenged by her encounter with the Aboriginal worker, and that Brumby Innes constitutes a crucial meditation on silence, political inarticulacy and rage.' (Source: Abstract)

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Last amended 20 May 2016 10:00:44