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Issue Details: First known date: 2009... 2009 The Uses of Fear : Spatial Politics in the Australian White-Vanishing Trope
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In the fourteenth century, cartographers depicting Terra Australis, the imagined but as yet unconfirmed southern continent, placed fearsome mythical creatures in the 'unknown spaces' on their maps. Dragons, gargoyles, and giant sea serpents both guarded and occupied the as-yet-undefined spaces of the Antipodes.'

'In contemporary Australia's dominant, non-indigenous culture, the dragons and gargoyles, and even, ostensibly, terra nullius itself, now repealed, are gone, yet ghosts of their presence and purpose remain. White Australians still populate the spaces beyond their immediate knowledge with mythical presences and imbue them with qualities of fear and menace. This article explores the role of spaces of fear in one particular white Australian narrative trope, the white-vanishing tales. This is the paradigm of recurring stories in non-indigenous Australian textuality about disappearing whites (lost children, missing explorers, vanishing tramps and drovers, etc.)'


  • Epigraph: [T]he Beaumonts are not the only ones who explored a little way off the cultural map and disappeared into thin air: Harold Holt, Ludwig Leichhardt, Azaria Chamberlain, the girls from Miss Appleby's school [...] All inhabiting now this Other space in Australian Memory.

    (Spencer, sect. 8, par. 5)

    [A] nation's management of its literal and metaphoric 'space' reveals its anxieties more than almost any other feature of nationhood. (Tompkins, Unsettling Space 18)

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