A Crisis of Settler Belonging?: Landscape Memoirs by Tim Winton, Kim Mahood, and Don Watson
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|Fakulta / Pracoviště MU
|In her 2002 article “How Does the Settler Belong?” Fiona Probyn points to the “crisis of [settler] belonging” as symptomatic of settler (post)colonialism. In Australia, spatial anxiety and what Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs described in Uncanny Australia as “the postcolonial uncanny” was theorized particularly around the turn of the 21st century—a moment of historical revision of the nation’s foundational narrative of settlement—when a number of authors, including historians Peter Read, Mark McKenna, and Inga Clendinnen; fictocritics Stephen Muecke or Katrina Schlunke; and feminist writers/artists Gail Jones, Kim Mahood or Margaret Sommerville, published self-reflective, personalized narratives in which they commented on settler (un)belonging. These texts, which Gillian Whitlock labeled “white intellectual memoirs,” often reveal a sense of complicity, responsibility and awareness of one’s whiteness, as they look for ways to articulate new ways of personal as well as national belonging. My presentation will explore whether the debate about the crisis of settler belonging is still relevant today and if yes, what forms does it take in public intellectuals’ nonfiction and memoir? As examples of contemporary attempts to come to terms with and frame aesthetically settler belonging in the postcolony such as Australia, a short analysis of three recently published landscape memoirs will be used: Don Watson’s The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia (2014), Tim Winton’s Island Home: A Landscape Memoir (2015), and Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful: Mapping Landscapes and Memories (2016). I will argue that although these narratives share a number of common themes, such as the authors’ appreciation of (outback) landscapes and its aesthetics, uneasiness about the troubling history of frontier violence, and environmentalist concerns, they communicate different sensibilities.