Kim discusses some of the processes that he used to research, draft and edit Benang.
Anna Haebich investigates how the West Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs archives (1898-1972) have been utilised by Indigenous writers/researchers.
'Kim Scott’s 1999 novel Benang has often been read in terms of the anxieties raised by Australia’s Stolen Generation Report. However, this article argues that the novel is not a direct attempt to lay bare white Australia’s neurosis. Rather, the novel aims to interrogate the colonial discourse that formed the basis of the exploitative, white, monologic, modern nation. Benang also deals with the strategic cultural resistance and negotiating manoeuvrings of the Nyoongars seeking to establish their distinct identity and envision an “ethnonation” within a modern nation. Benang thus examines how simultaneous and contrary discourses of nation formation, one modern and the other ethnic, one hegemonic and the other performative, simultaneously make and unmake Australia. The representation of these two contesting nations in Benang is assessed here with reference to modern theories of nation and nationalism.' (Publication abstract)
'The Mabo decision of 1992 made questions about the definition of land in Australia and its relation to humans newly significant by overturning the British legal fiction of this continent as ‘terra nullius’ (empty land) and acknowledged for the first time in Anglo-Australian law the validity of Aboriginal land claims. Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise (1997) and Kim Scott’s Benang (1999) were written in the wake of this landmark decision. Both tell stories of children of the Stolen Generations and their ancient ties to their ancestral land, despite their severance from it. Critical scholarship on these novels has focused primarily on their human stories and been conducted in terms of postcolonial theory and discussions of magic realism. In this article I seek to complicate and expand these predominantly anthropocentric readings by drawing on ecocriticism to explore the central role of the non-human world in these novels. I argue they privilege an Indigenous understanding of two regions of the Australian continent as ‘country’ over their conception as terra nullius, a blank canvass available for colonisation and inscription by British property law and Christianity. The novels contest this concept of terra nullius by manifesting ‘country’: a vibrant, active land inextricably bound to its Indigenous people by ancient, enduring laws. They rewrite the continent as black land and suggest their protagonists’ inextricable, enduring ties to it.' (Publication abstract)
'Over the past three decades the Miles Franklin shortlists have contained a healthy serve of history, from the poised historical fiction of authors such as David Malouf and Roger McDonald, to the past-in-present fabulations of Alexis Wright and Richard Flanagan. Another is Kim Scott, twice winner of the award, and part of the current shortlist with his most recent novel Taboo.' (Introduction)