'Blackfellas' Point' lies on the Towamba River in south-eastern New South Wales. As the river descends rapidly from its source on the Monaro plains, it winds its way through state forest, national park and farming land. Around twenty-five kilometres before it reaches the sea, just south of Eden, it passes through Towamba, the small village in which Mark McKenna now owns eight acres of land. Mark's land looks across the river to Blackfellas' Point , once an Aboriginal camping ground and meeting place.'
Looking for Blackfellas' Point is a history that begins by looking across the river to arc of bush that is Blackfellas' Point. From there, Mark McKenna's gaze pans out - from the history of one place he knows intimately, to the history of one region and, ultimately, to the history of Australia's quest for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.'
In Memory of Hilda Dymphna Clark 1916-2000
and Nancye Eileen McKenna 1927-1999
'This article uses Lacanian psychoanalysis to look past the enormous contextual differences between the politically-motivated mass murders and consequent genocide of the Maya in Guatemala during the Civil War, and the frontier massacres in Australia during colonisation, to locate important commonalities. In Horacio Castellanos Moya’s 2004 novel Senselessness, it identifies a libidinal investment in a Maya and Latin American Other as the site of the excessive enjoyment that Lacan calls jouissance: a projection responsible for love, hate and all varieties of discrimination. It identifies a similar investment in an Aboriginal Other in Mark McKenna’s 2002 nonfiction book Looking for Blackfellas’ Point. Castellanos Moya creates a narrator whose intense libidinal investment in the Maya Other’s suffering reveals not only the limits of reconciliation in Guatemala, but also how libidinal investments in Latin America as a site of literary jouissance trap the region between magic and violence. McKenna unearths a local narrative of denial in which Aboriginal Australians are cast as villains; this points to an ambivalent national narrative where Aboriginal Australians are either victims or victimisers, but always exceptional. What connects Guatemala, Australia and the world is a collective responsibility for the production of Others – of and for whom violence is expected.' (Publication abstract)
'It was barely two pages: the story of the murder and midnight burial of a new-born ‘half-caste’ child on the far south coast of New South Wales in April 1864, witnessed by a 14-year-old domestic servant, Emily Wintle (née Gillespie). Of all the histories that I explored while writing Looking for Blackfellas’ Point (2002), it was this story that continued to unfold long after it was published, unsettling the memories of the families involved, revealing previously hidden details and shifting at the edges as more information came to light. What began as a subject of historical research became increasingly personal. In 2002 I knew little of Emily’s background or what happened to her after she gave evidence in court. I had only the fine detail of this one, long moment in her life. I had no idea of how the story had resonated in the lives of her descendants or how it had been passed on in family oral history down the years. The story that I originally saw as a metaphor for the ‘repression of the memory of Indigenous Australia’ became even larger and more mysterious after its telling. ' (Introduction)