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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Orbits, Mobilities, Scales : Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance as Transcultural Remembrance
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'Writing in the wake of Moby Dick, which haunts all later fictions on whaling, Kim Scott brings an Indigenous imaginary to reflect on the ‘enlightened world’ that was brought to the ‘pestiferously barbarous’ shores of Australia by whale-ships (Melville 120). His novel That Deadman Dance spans the two decades from 1826 to 1844, a period during which pelagic and shore whaling brought substantial income to the fledging settler colony (Gibbs). In the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the whaling industry lit the world and played a significant role in the great movement and intermingling of populations.  In 1844, the peak of colonial whaling in Australia, there were over three hundred whaling ships in the Southern Ocean. Foreign whaling ships brought settlers, convicts and explorers, and left with a cargo of whale oil—an exchange that contributed to the dispossession of Indigenous people and the depletion of the whale population. In his collaborative family memoir Kayang and Me Scott notes that during the bay-whaling boom of the 1840s ‘some Noongars joined the whaling parties’ (37). That Deadman Dance was, Scott states, ‘inspired by the history of early contact between Aboriginal people—the Noongar—and Europeans’ on the remote south coast of Western Australia, near his hometown of Albany, described by some historians as the ‘friendly frontier’ (That Deadman Dance 397; see also Shellam, Shaking Hands). While the novel remediates archives, material traces and histories of early contact, the past it remembers is imaginatively refigured in and for the present. This orientation signifies it as an act of cultural remembrance and a contribution to the transcultural memory of contact on the maritime frontier.' (Introduction)


  • Epigraph:

    That great America on the other side of the sphere, Australia, was given to the enlightened world by the whaleman… The whale-ship is the true mother of that now mighty colony.

    Hermann Melville, Moby Dick

    The story is not over yet—we’re coming back through story again.

    Kim Scott

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Last amended 11 Apr 2019 07:50:01 Orbits, Mobilities, Scales : Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance as Transcultural Remembrancesmall AustLit logo Australian Humanities Review