Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, by Graham Huggan

By Graham Huggan

The Oxford reports in Postcolonial Literatures sequence bargains stimulating and obtainable introductions to definitive themes and key genres and areas in the swiftly diversifying box of postcolonial literary reviews in English. In a provocative contribution to the sequence, Graham Huggan offers clean readings of a good, occasionally deeply unsettling nationwide literature whose writers and readers simply as unmistakably belong to the broader international. Australian literature isn't the distinct province of Australian readers and critics; neither is its specific job to supply an inner statement on altering nationwide matters. Huggan's ebook adopts a transnational technique, stimulated by means of postcolonial pursuits, within which modern rules taken from postcolonial feedback and important race concept are productively mixed and imaginatively reworked. Rejecting the trendy view that Australia isn't really, and that Australian literature, like different settler literatures, calls for shut awareness to postcolonial equipment and issues. A postcolonial method of Australian literature, he indicates, is greater than only a case for a extra inclusive nationalism; it additionally consists of a common acknowledgement of the nation's replaced dating to an more and more globalized international. As such, the e-book is helping to deprovincialize Australian literary stories. Australian Literature additionally contributes to debates concerning the carrying on with background of racism in Australia-a heritage during which the nation's literature has performed a constitutive function, as either product and manufacturer of racial tensions and anxieties, nowhere extra seen than within the discourse it has produced approximately race, either inside and past the nationwide context.

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Attitudes towards the past are largely characterized by ‘schizogenic processes’ (Hodge and Mishra 1990: 142) of revelation and concealment; attitudes towards the land are mostly defined through negation and ‘nomadic syntax’, ‘a form of consciousness which is rootless [and] fragmented’, and which represents a distinctively ‘Australian inflection of the modernist malaise’ (Hodge and Mishra 1990: 154; see also Carter 1987). Hodge and Mishra’s own particular variation on the ‘gloom thesis’ (Docker 1984) is marked above all by an insistence on the continuing history of racism in mainstream Australian society and culture.

This anxiety previously focused on the local, contemplating the uncertain notion that ‘there is a definable community whose character a properly national literature would express’ (Kramer 1981: 9); there is now considerable evidence that it revolves around the global, taking in the idea that the national literature, in dramatically expanding its geographical and cultural horizons, is rendered accountable to the wider world. This local/global dialectic is hardly new, and is probably a shared feature of all national literatures.

It is a racism whose dominant theme is not biological heredity but the insurmountability of cultural differences, a racism which, at first sight, does not postulate the superiority of certain groups in relation to others but ‘‘only’’ the harmfulness of abolishing frontiers, the incompatibility of life-styles and traditions’ (Balibar 1991: 21; see also Castles 1996). This racism is hardly new, with roots going back at least as far as the Enlightenment (Todorov 1993). Nor, strictly speaking, is it singular; like other racisms, it takes on a number of contingent, not necessarily compatible forms.

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