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'Jussi Parikka has talked about the mobilisation of animals and insects into 'technological modernity', as a particular way of making them visible. I want to look at the way native species in Australia were mobilised in the framework of colonial modernity. Species classification and species extinction happened almost simultaneously: someone like John Gould is important here, for example. Species visibility thus brings two competing but intertwined realities into play. I want to look at a colonial animal fable, E.J. Brady's 'The Friar Bird's Sermon' (1897), which works by gathering native species together, making them visible (even allowing them to 'speak'), and classifying them: but all within the cultural logics of colonial modernity. This story is a subgenre of the animal fable that owes something to Chaucer's The Parliament of Fowles — attributing human/citizen characteristics to (in this case) native species, and so inserting them into the colonial project. Written partly in reaction to Adam Lindsay Gordon's dismissive view of local species, the story recovers a native ecology but only by suppressing the realities of extinction and burying the effects of colonialism itself. Brady went on to publish a paean to Australian settlement and land development, Unlimited Australia (1918).' (Publication summary)
'Ideas of the beachcomber as part castaway, part vagabond – the ragged figure of the ex-sailor or convict searching for a better life somewhere in the islands of the Pacific – are no longer so familiar as they were during the nineteenth century. Beachcombing today is more often associated with scanning the shoreline to collect shipwrecked objects or natural specimens washed up by the sea, in rituals to do with monitoring and preserving the coastal environment instead of plundering it for trade. This article will explore the beachcomber’s changing investments in nature, looking at stories by the colonial Australian author Louis Becke and at later, non-fiction works by the writer and naturalist E J Banfield. It will suggest that Banfield’s 1907 book, Confessions of a Beachcomber, marks a self-conscious transformation of the beachcomber from tropical-island fugitive to ecological recluse.' (Publication abstract)
The late Bill Neidjie was one of a remarkable generation of Aboriginal elders who in the late 20th century mediated Aboriginal knowledges for a wider audience. These knowledges were individual and specific, and originated in each elder’s engagement with modernity, rather than being the articulation of a primordial wisdom tradition. This article conducts a reading of some of the key themes of Story About Feeling – a collection of Neidjie’s narratives recorded in October and November 1982 by Keith Taylor and published in 1989. In these narratives Neidjie identifies a universal human subject, defines inter-species concordance, the relation between nature and culture, and the experience of the Aboriginal sacred and its effects in the everyday. Story About Feeling returns continually to the reality of djang and its corollary feeling – a modality that is always in excess of any story that attempts to represent it.' (Publication abstract)
'Awareness of non-human species, both plant and animal, has lagged well behind theatre’s primary focus on the human drama. The associated human/nature and culture/nature binary oppositions play out in theatre as character and setting, as metaphor and as landscapes of the human mind. In the modern era, theatre that aspires to be political or efficacious, or that believes itself to have a transformative effect on human consciousness, typically stages the social relations of class, race, gender and sexuality and takes on broad themes of war, justice and human rights. The non-human is represented as space, place, prop, pet, metaphor or allegory. From the 1990s, however, theatre scholars such as Arons, Chaudhuri, May, Kershaw, Tait and others have raised an ecocritical awareness within the field while theatre itself is becoming more overtly environmental in theme and content if not form. This article discusses a provocative work from the fringe that indicates an emerging critical and ethical conscious of the ‘more-than- human’ world: They Saw a Thylacine (Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2013).' (Publication abstract)