AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2011... 2011 The Time of Biopolitics in the Settler Colony
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Kim Scott's description of the Moore River Native Settlement, also known as Mogumber, in his 1999 novel Benang, suggests implicit analogies with the mid-century concentration camps of the Holocaust. The Indigenous detainees are transported there in stock cars, they are welcomed by uniformed overseers armed with whips, they are housed in barracks with barred windows, and a punishment regime of solitary confinement and ritual humiliation operates as a means of coercion (89-94, 99-102). Elsewhere in the novel, Scott leaves us in no doubt about the force of these associations: "' They had some good ideas, those Nazis," Earn said, "but they went a bit far"' (Benang 154). The analogy between twentieth-century government control of the lives of Australian Indigenous people and biopolitics of Nazism has not gone unnoticed in other quarters. Elizabeth Povinelli describes the equation, made by the Royal Commission's Bringing Them Home report in 1994, of a century of child removal practices with cultural genocide, as 'an analogy made more compelling by the age of the Aboriginal applicants, many of whom had been taken in the early 1940s'. The impact of that equation was that 'Australians looked at themselves in a ghastly historical mirror and imagined their own Nuremberg. Would fascism be the final metaphor of Australian settler modernity?' (38).' (Author's introduction, p. 1)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Imaginary Antipodes : Essays on Contemporary Australian Literature and Culture Russell West-Pavlov , Heidelberg : Winter Verlag , 2011 Z1819744 2011 selected work criticism 'How can contemporary Australian literature and culture be ‘imagined’ from abroad? What particular refractions may emerge out of an expatriate reflection upon Antipodean literature and culture? This collection of essays summarizes fifteen years’ work done from an explicitly European perspective. The unashamedly outside perspective these essays present envisages a largely ‘imaginary Antipodes’ whose character is regarded from four distinct angles: indigenous literary production, white settler identities, migrant destinies, and the global construction of Australian literature, thereby gesturing towards the transnational perspective that furnishes the framing rationale for the collection itself. The thirteen essays range over a broad selection of literary and filmic texts, from classics such as Patrick White and Crocodile Dundee, via Castro, Davison, Fremd, Gooneratne, Grenville, Hall, Hospital, Lawrence, McGahan, Malouf, Martin, Morgan, Scott, Teo, or Yasbincek, through to wider issues such as indigenous poetry, the post-Mabo ‘history wars’ of the 1990s, and the global translation of Australian literature' (Publisher blurb). Heidelberg : Winter Verlag , 2011 pg. 51-68
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Literary Studies vol. 26 no. 2 June 2011 Z1845937 2011 periodical issue 2011 pg. 1-19
Last amended 25 Jan 2018 15:41:10
1-19 The Time of Biopolitics in the Settler Colonysmall AustLit logo Australian Literary Studies
51-68 The Time of Biopolitics in the Settler Colonysmall AustLit logo