Self-narration and Place-making : Narrative Strategies in Australian White Women’s Life Writing
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|White settler women have always held a specific position in the history of Australian colonization and settlement: half-colonized, framed by complex intersections of gender and race, they were often navigating between patriarchal oppression and complicitous whiteness. Much of their life writing contributes to the discourse of settler belonging by presenting highly complex narrative strategies which draw on several recurrent tropes specific to Australian context such as: journey to the Outback as a way of searching for a “deeper” belonging; encounter with Indigeneity as a way of reflecting on their whiteness; female perspective as a way of commenting on gender politics; and also a peculiar love letter to the unique landscape as a way of coming to terms with the haunting colonial past. In the presentation I will outline the context and character of these recurring narrative strategies and then offer illustrative examples from the “landscape memoirs” by Australian women writers and artists: Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful (2016), Saskia Beudel’s A Country in Mind (2013) and Angela Rockel’s Rogue Intensities (2019). I will argue that self-narration is in these narratives intimately and inseparably related to the process of place-making—process in which affective responses of complicity and shame combine with attempts at remapping not only landscapes and memories but also the history of gender and race relations in Australia.