From Landscape to Country : Writing Settler Belonging in Post-Mabo Australia

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Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Life Writing
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Memoirs of settler belonging; Australia; Tim Winton’s Island Home; Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful; post-Mabo
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Description One of the debates which Australia continues to witness with various degrees of intensity involves the complex ways of articulating settler (un)belonging in the postcolonising settler nation. While one of the most significant moments which re-defined settler-Indigenous relationship took place around the turn of the twenty-first century, the critical scholarship examining settler anxieties regarding the sense of (un)belonging is flourishing in the post-Mabo period, as is the production of cultural and literary narratives engaging with this topic. This article explores two recent memoirs of settler belonging in Australia and contextualises them in a broader tradition of settler memoirs in the first decade of this century. By comparing and contrasting Tim Winton’s Island Home (2015. London: Picador) and Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful (2016. Melbourne: Scribe), the article demonstrates a visible shift from earlier forms of writing settler (un)belonging, which often thematised settler anxiety and desire to belong through various acts of appropriating Indigenous ways of belonging. Winton’s and Mahood’s memoirs, however, offer a different vision of settler belonging: one that is deeply embedded in local, bioregional and environmental histories, recognition of Indigenous knowledges as significant agents shaping post-Mabo aesthetics and politics, and a commitment to transformation of settler relationship with the land from territory to Country.
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