On the failures of the ‘middle ground’: Kristine Kelly, ‘Dangerous Insight: (Not) Seeing Australian Aborigines in the Narrative of James Murrells’, in Robert T. Tally (ed.), The Geocritical Legacies of Edward W. Said’, Springer, 2015, pp. 165-18
Abstract: Concluding his brief account of castaway James Murrells’s (also spelled Morrill) return to Australian settler society in 1863 after living with Aborigines for 17 years, popular colonial chronicler James Bonwick notes that this man’s insight into Aboriginal life rendered him surprisingly ineffectual as a mediating influence between Aboriginal Australians and British colonial settlers. Bonwick writes, “The blacks mistrust the deserter of their camp fires; and the whites threaten him already with deadly hostility for supposed confederation with the natives to the injury of the flocks.”1 Bonwick admits his regret over the failed connection. Nevertheless, first-hand accounts of lost-and-found travelers like Murrells become, despite their failure at promoting cultural negotiation, the basis for Bonwick’s subsequent ethnographic account of Aboriginal manners and customs. For Bonwick, the preservation of such ethnographic insights offers a response to what was believed to be the imminent disappearance of Aboriginal peoples.
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