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Issue Details: First known date: 2010... 2010 'All are Implicated' : Violence and Accountability in Sam Watson's The Kadaitcha Sung and Alexis Wright's Plains of Promise
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'Just like historians, writers of fiction have evinced an enduring fascination with the Australian frontier. In and around the decade of the 1990s, writers seemed particularly interested in Tasmania as a place distinguished by its antipodean isolation, and by the bloody violence of its colonial history (see Mudrooroo 1991; Castro 1994; Flanagan 200 l ). Equally violent, though less geographically remote, the Queensland frontier is vividly evoked in two novels from the 1990s: Sam Watson's The Kadaitcha Sung (1990) and Alexis Wright's Plains of Promise (1997). Both novels are by Aboriginal writers, and they both represent, in different ways, the uneasy, ambivalent and often violent connections between their Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal characters. Watson's novel assaults the reader with visceral descriptions of murder, rape, and other forms of violence, between and amongst white and black individuals and communities, in late twentieth-century Brisbane. At the same time, the text details the massacres of Indigenous populations in colonial Queensland (and other states) with a lack of restraint that recalls U.S. writer Cormac McCarthy's depiction of frontier violence in Blood Meridian (1985). Plains of Promise foregrounds the horror of stolen children and the myriad forms of violence and abuse against women (by white and black men) that occurred in missions and institutions from the mid nineteenth century up until at least the 1970s in Australia. The Aboriginal mission is a significant 'frontier' place in the Australian psyche, in part, perhaps, because of its remote or 'outback' setting, but also because it represents a place where a clear boundary exists to demarcate Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural groups. In examining evocations of the frontier in Australian fiction it is helpful to remember that the frontier is, among other things: a literal (historical) space describing a specific geographical region, an actual or imagined boundary line, a discursive concept and a metaphor. In whatever context it is used the frontier inscribes a boundary between a number of familiar Manichean oppositions: savagery/civilisation, black/white, wild/tamed, us/them, and so on. And, just as the historical and geographical frontier shifts with the creep of colonial expansion, so the figurative frontier of Australian history is an unstable and shifting construct. Australian historiography has, of course been renegotiating this frontier for some time, and it is useful to recall that the recent history wars "were preceded by a long, complicated and strongly contested process of historiographical transition" (Veracini 439). It is an encouraging mark of progress that, during the history wars of the 1990s, right-wing combatants such as historian Keith Windschuttle and former Prime Minister John Howard found themselves in the minority, railing against what they saw as "poses of political correctness" (Howard 23) as the frontier they knew was radically redefined by historians intent on providing "counter-narratives of the nation". I've used Homi Bhabha's much borrowed phrase from The Location of Culture because it applies equally well to historiographical and fictional retellings of the past, and because writers of fiction and historians seemed equally interested during the 1990s in interrogating history. Wright and Watson are just two of a number of Indigenous novelists (see, for example, Kim Scott and Bruce Pascoe) who were producing historical counternarratives of the nation during the 1990s, from 'the other side of the frontier'.' (Introduction)

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    y separately published work icon Frontier Skirmishes : Literary and Cultural Debates in Australia after 1992 Russell West-Pavlov (editor), Jennifer Wawrzinek (editor), Heidelberg : Winter Verlag , 2010 Z1797661 2010 anthology criticism "The frontier has been the central metaphorical figure governing discursive configurations in the last two decades in Australia. The cultural landscape since the Australian High Court's 'Mabo' decision of 1992 has been increasingly openly defined as a site of animosity and hostility. Frontiers, both real and imagined, past and present, continue to haunt the cultural landscape of Australia. This volume explores a range of paraliterary and literary discussion of recent years which can be interpreted as displacements into the cultural realm of erstwhile frontier conflicts along the borders of white colonial settlement. The collection gathers together a distinguished group of scholars and writers from Australia, Europe and Asia to investigate the dual manifestations of frontiers - both genuinely historiographical and more broadly metaphorical - in the cultural debates taking place in the Australian public sphere from the early 1990s onwards. Long since terminated as real armed conflicts, these past skirmishes none the less continue to resonate in the consciousness of white Australia, leaving their mark upon literary texts, films, artworks, and public discourse."--Back cover. Heidelberg : Winter Verlag , 2010 pg. 199-216
Last amended 9 Oct 2017 13:06:02
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