“Kin-fused” revenge : Rewriting the canon and settler belonging in Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife

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

Faculty of Arts

Web https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17449855.2022.2051867?needAccess=true
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17449855.2022.2051867
Keywords Australian literature; postcolonial Australia; Australian plays; Leah Purcell; The Drover’s Wife; settler belonging
Description One of the many rewritings of Australian Henry Lawson’s iconic 1892 short story “The Drover’s Wife” is the 2016 play The Drover’s Wife, written by Aboriginal actor, writer, and director Leah Purcell. Purcell’s rewriting evidences a much more significant presence of Indigeneity. The play not only introduces Yadaka, an Aboriginal fugitive, as a key character, but the drover’s wife herself is revealed to have Indigenous origins. This powerful twist offers several implications: a tour de force of frontier violence with disturbing and haunting images of racism, rape, lynching, and murder, the play confronts the foundations of the literary canon and of settler belonging, providing an alternative to both. Borrowing Fiona Probyn-Rapsey’s term “kin-fused”, this close reading of the play’s text argues that its resolution implies a critique of Indigenous–settler reconciliation, pointing to a lingering desire to redress colonial violence, desire embodied in the play by a “kin-fused” revenge.
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