Richard J. Martina, Philip Meadb, David Trigger, ‘The politics of indigeneity, identity and representation in literature from north Australia’s Gulf Country’, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 2015
Abstract: The Aboriginal author Alexis Wright’s novels Plains of Promise, Carpentaria and The Swan Book have prompted scholars and critics towards enthusiastic comparisons with the ground-breaking work of a range of international writers. With her novels all set partly in the remote Gulf Country of north Australia, Wright’s work arises from intellectual and political commitment to Indigenous people, and aspires to the idea of a distinctive ‘Aboriginal sovereignty of the mind’. Much less known yet, we argue, of complementary significance, are a broader suite of writings about this region, and we address representations of cultural identity and connections to place by authors with both Aboriginal and European ancestries. With our interest in a deliberately cross-disciplinary methodology, ethnographic research complements our focus on texts to facilitate analysis of diverse identities in a setting produced through both the resilience of Indigenous cultural traditions and the legacies of European settler colonialism. We argue that the range of authorial representations arising from this sector of Australian society provides a focus for understanding shared and contested postcolonial imaginaries about place, culture and identity.
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